Knowledge Main Headline

Macao service sector professionals report stress in parental role: study

From left to right: Associate Professor Dr. Anise Wu, University of Macau; Associate Professor Dr. Sydney Hu, Kiang Wu Nursing College; and Assistant Professor Dr. Cindia Lam, IFT

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

A piece of research involving scholars from 3 Macao higher education institutions concluded that individuals working in the city’s services sector report significant levels of stress regarding their role as a parent.

The study was conducted by Associate Professor Dr. Sydney Hu from the Kiang Wu Nursing College; Assistant Professor Dr. Cindia Lam from IFT; and Associate Professor Dr. Anise Wu from the University of Macau. The Macao Government’s Tertiary Education Service Office sponsored the research, which was conducted in 2016.

Researchers focused on behaviours of parents and the perceptions of those parents that respectively worked in the city’s services sector and had children up to 2 years of age. The study found that nearly 70 percent of respondents considered work adversely influenced their role as parents.

Almost 80 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the researchers reported feeling stress due to becoming a parent and thus needing to fulfil their parental responsibilities.

The researchers also concluded that parents in Macao might lack awareness and knowledge on the importance of parental skills and of engaging with their children in order to promote their healthy development. Effective education programmes in parental skills are urgently needed in Macao, the researchers suggested.

Moreover, parents were urged to spend more and better-quality time with their children in order to improve parent-child bonds. To achieve that, daily companionship activities such as family dinners should be promoted, the researchers said.

The majority of respondents to the survey (95 percent) considered “playing with toys / visiting parks / practising sports / playing games / having outdoor activities” with their children as the most effective ways to enhance parent-child bonds.

This was followed by “chatting / storytelling” (89 percent), “having meals together” (87 percent), “encouragement and appreciation / body contact like hugs” (86 percent), “vacation trips” (85 percent), and “joining parenting activities organised by schools or other organisations” (84 percent).

Despite these perceptions, only 70 percent of respondents indicated that they would regularly perform any of the following activities with their children: “play with toys / visit parks / practise sports / play games / have outdoor activities”. According to the research results, “vacation trips” were even less common (36 percent), and fewer than 30 percent of respondents reported having joined parenting activities organised by their children’s nurseries or related organisations.

More than 70 percent of respondents said they would use friends, family members and/or the Internet as primary sources for advice on parental skills. Fewer than 30 percent of respondents admitted to ever joining health education workshops about infant care organised by hospitals or health centres.

On a positive note, more than 70 percent of respondents to the study reported being able to spend more than 2 hours a day with their children, and being able to have 1 or 2 meals with them every day.

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