I am writing to express my views on the article “Hong Kong mothers increasingly bring in the professionals when it comes to childcare” (SCMP, April 30).
In my opinion, the government should extend maternity and paternity leave for new parents. At the moment, a mother gets 10 weeks and a father just three days.
After giving birth, a mother needs time to recover and she should be cared for by her husband who should also look after their newborn. However, once the father returns to work, the woman, especially if she is an inexperienced first-time mother, may feel stressed and unable to take care of her child.
What’s more, mothers may not have enough energy to look after their baby after a long day at work. Thus, 24-hour care is now the best choice for many parents.
The government should follow the example of countries like Sweden and Britain, and extend maternity and paternity leave in Hong Kong, so that parents can rest and care for their newborns. The government should also offer financial support for low-income families who cannot afford to hire professional help.
Trisha Tobar, King Ling College
Thank you for your letter, Trisha. I’ve always thought it was ironic that the Hong Kong government encourages couples to have more children. Of course, they are worried that increased life expectancy means there will be lots of old people with nobody to take care of them. But unless there is support, many people simply don’t have the time or resources to raise a child, let alone more than one.
For many women, 10 weeks of maternity leave is not enough time to bond with their newborn, let alone to recover. Some women are entitled to paid maternity leave if they’ve worked for a certain time; and in Hong Kong, most have family support. But consider those who are not eligible, whose parents have passed away, or whose husband has died or left them. They have no guarantee of money or a carer for their child, and they have no choice but to return to work as soon as possible.
Endless numbers of studies have proven the economic and health benefits of not just maternity, but paternity leave – men should take responsibility for children they father, and father-child bonding leads to healthier adults.
Of course, having children is a personal decision, and parents must take responsibility. But if the government wants happy residents, both now and in the future, it should consider extending parental leave.
Karly, Deputy editor