Family Wellbeing

HKFWS is committed to enhancing family wellbeing. The Society helps families to understand the status of their family wellbeing by conducting socially relevant and culturally appropriate research such as the Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index. Based on their own research, we have created an online self-assessment tool covering six family domains that enable anyone to benchmark their own family wellbeing to further understand their own family situation. We also provide professional advice to enhance the family wellbeing of the general public.

My wife and I will have a new family member. She has no choice but to give up a high-paying job to become a full-time mother. As the sole breadwinner, I will shoulder a huge financial burden and feel very distressed. In this situation, how can I manage my family finances and reduce family expenditure?

Feeling irritable is understandable if there is a sudden change in your family. Firstly, you need to cope with your emotional disturbance. Finding somewhere to calm down or talking to a friend can help. To manage family finances, you don't need advanced financial knowledge, you just simply learn how to calculate. By deducting indispensable family expenditures from your sources of income, you can then determine the net income of your family. However, it is always hard to say how much family income is enough. Although your wife has to give up her full-time job, there is no benefit to worrying too much as long as you have communicated with her and made a commitment on future planning of your family income.

My girlfriend and I just got married and recently relocated to a new home where the living environment is overcrowded. How can we create a good living environment and make our life comfortable?

To create a good living environment, you can start with interior design. For example, you can place a mirror in an appropriate position, which will make you feel as if the living space has been enlarged. Sometimes the living environment is overcrowded because of material desires, which makes people consume irrationally and lead to an excess of sundries accumulated in our homes. Therefore, we must know how to consume rationally. Only buying what is needed and knowing how to "discard" is crucial; we must decisively discard or pass on unnecessary and useless items to those in need. It is also important to regularly clean up to make the environment look tidy and refreshing. Moreover, quality of life is not determined by the size of the living area. Spiritual support should also be considered. Couples may wish to spend the holiday together to participate in outdoor activities, go to the countryside to breathe fresh air, enjoy the natural scenery, or develop various interests. All of these can improve the quality of life for you and your wife.

My son is growing up, but we have recently discovered that he is not familiar with some common life skills, such as cooking and repairing simple household appliances, and lacks initiative in learning. How can I encourage him to take more initiative to learn, to become more independent and autonomous?

Firstly, you must understand the reason behind his lack of interest in learning these life skills  because he is afraid of failure or lacks interest in learning new things. If it is the latter, you may wish to start with some fun activities. For example, you can guide him to work with you to cook his favourite food. During the process, give him more support and encouragement to enhance his confidence while learning. When confidence is established, he will become more independent and autonomous.

The pandemic has lasted for more than a year. In the face of adversity, how can we make our family feel safe without worrying too much about the future?

Everyone should know how to adjust their mentality in the face of adversity. There is no problem that cannot be solved or controlled. Even if the future is not something you predict or control, what we can control or regulate is our life. Perhaps it is the environment that makes us reluctant to change, but as long as we face difficulties with a positive and optimistic attitude, and remove negative emotions, feelings or discouragement, we will live a good life and overcome difficulties step by step. If you encounter a problem, do not face it or bear it on your own. Your family can give you strong support. If you don’t know how to communicate with your family, you can ask a social worker for help.

Due to the epidemic, my children and I have rarely gone out to do sports. To arouse the interest of my family members in sports, would you recommend indoor sports suitable for families of all ages to play at home?

There are some simple exercises that work at home. If you have a relatively large space, you can consider rope skipping for 1 minute or jumping vertically for 1 minute. Both are good options. You can also try the most popular exercise – planks. Start with five seconds at first, then add 1 second every 2 days. Over time, you will slowly find you can hold the position longer. Also, running in place for 3 minutes is a good exercise!

I found that my wife has been troubled by our children’s academic performance recently. She can’t eat well and loses interest in other things. Do you have any suggestions to improve the situation?

You are a caring husband if you noticed the change in your wife. What she cares about the most is her children's academic performance. If you want to help, you can ask your wife if there’s any tasks she can share with you to relieve her of some pressure. Your participation can make her feel your support. Moreover, you can see if there are any snacks that your wife loves. You can buy them to cheer her up. If someone in your family can take care of the children, you can invite your wife for a walk after a meal or when the child is asleep, so you two can spare time for a quality talk.

How do we create quality family time amid the hustle and bustle of life?

To create quality family time, we must understand what "quality family time" means. Family members can enjoy quality family time when they are not disturbed by external affairs and feel intimate in how they connect to each other. Creating “quality family time” is easy, you can simply put down your mobile phones when having face-to-face communication. You can also get together with them to taste delicious food, watch favourite TV shows, play games together, etc.

I have married my partner for 30 years and we are very familiar with each other. How can I bring an excitement to our lifelong relationship?

Old couples easily get bored with each other because they find everything familiar without any new excitement. The truth is they can prepare special surprises for their other half by sending a small and adorable gift or providing a special treat during holidays, or other special occasions. Couples often find it embarrassing to say “I love you” out loud, so you can pen your messages of love on a card. It is not strange to say "thank you" or “good morning” to greet your partners. Grasp some opportunities to recall happy memories. For example, you can collect some old photos to reminisce together and express gratitude to each other for the company.

How can we encourage family members to share and cultivate housework habits?

Doing housework is one of your family responsibilities. Practically speaking, it helps build a sense of belonging and foster family relationships. You can motivate your children to do housework by reviewing their interests, age, and ability. If they are able to or express interest in cleaning or repairing the household’s electrical appliances, you can give them a trial.  With accumulated experience and family encouragement, it would be easier for them to take up more housework.

My family has set up a “WhatsApp” group and we get used to sharing information and maintaining communication in this platform. However, we seldom use it to share our personal matters. How can we improve our relationship?

“WhatsApp” groups are a platform to share information and photos.  However, it is not suitable to discuss personal and confidential matters. If family members come across these problems, they need your emotional support instead of having people share and discuss them in a group chat. Emotional support with a personal touch is essential to maintaining close and fruitful family relationships. Remember, “WhatsApp” groups cannot replace face-to-face communication.

What activities does the social welfare agency have for me to participate in that can strengthen connections with my neighbours?

You can participate in volunteer activities of the social welfare organisation near your home. You can also take initiative to care about your neighbours and expand your social network to enhance your enthusiasm for life.

I want to participate in parent-child volunteer activities. Are there any useful resources available?

If you want to participate in parent-child volunteer activities, you can check out the integrated family service centres or community centres in your neighbourhood area. Many social welfare agencies organise parent-child volunteer activities. It can not only expand your social network but is also an excellent experience for your children, as it will teach them how to care for others.

Are there any resources in the market for me to reference if I wish to improve communication between family members?

With ease of access to the internet nowadays, you can go online and find communications tips or skills between family members. One of the resources I would recommend is Popa Channel, which features many 3 to 5-minute short films and animations to demonstrate interpersonal communication skills between parents and children, couples, etc. If you are interested, you can check it out.

My company adopted work-from-home measures during the epidemic. However, I need to take care of my children's homework, which makes it difficult for me to concentrate on work, so I often finish work much later than desired. Are there any good ways for me to maintain work-life balance under the epidemic?

Working at home may require one to take care of their children's homework while also focusing on their own job, which is very demanding. I believe every dual-career parent in Hong Kong encounters the same issues. You can review your children's timetable and see if you can spare five minutes in the morning and afternoon to take a nap with your children or to prepare some snacks and drinks for each other, which can cheer up your children and yourself. You can also have a simple lunch with your children, and play some mini games after dinner to enjoy parent-child time.
For small kids, such as those who are in kindergarten or have never attended school, it is necessary to arrange some relatives, friends or close neighbours to take care of the children. If you have neighbours with children about the same age as yours, you can take the initiative to get acquainted with them and help each other. This means that your children can play together and learn from each other, while parents can take turns taking care of each other’s children.
In addition to the above, you can discuss with your boss if you can arrange for work deadlines to be at night. When your children go to bed, you can concentrate on your work to make up for the tasks that cannot be taken care of during the day. However, you must have a clearly defined timetable for this, as you will need to avoid overworking. It is important to allow yourself enough rest time to start another fulfilling day.

The nature of my work is relatively busy, and I often go home late. My husband and children asked me to resign and spend more time taking care of the family. However, I still love my job. How can I take care of both my family and my career?

If you want to take care of both your career and your family, I encourage you to go home early after work. You can eat with your family and to accompany them by playing games, telling stories, or just chatting as ways to enjoy your parent-child time. You can then spend 2 hours on work after your children go to bed. You must set boundaries for your work so that you can have enough rest for another day. Another factor to consider is that you will only have to accompany your children so much for a short period of time. They will have their own world after they enter middle school and will not need to be accompanied by adults often. I highly recommend you enjoy this parent-child time and to let your children feel your care so they can grow up surrounded by love.