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February 22, 2014

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Parents call for more ‘baby time’

A LOCAL family support group is appealing to the government to review the law on maternity leave in response to calls from  parents.

Chen Caiyu, director of the Shanghai Scientific Child Rearing Center, affiliated to the Shanghai Women’s Federation, said an increasing number of parents are choosing to raise their children themselves, the Shanghai Morning Post reported.

Young moms and dads know the importance of their children’s early education and want to play a key part in it, rather than leaving it to grandparents or preschools, Chen said.

The government should look at how the law on parental leave can be adjusted, she said.

In a survey by the child rearing center of 800 families with children under 3 in Hongkou District, more than 95 percent of respondents said they wished they could be full-time parents. In a similar study conducted in 2002, the figure was just 26 percent.

There’s been a shift in the way people think, and people with a good education are particularly supportive of full-time parenting, Chen said.

Many mothers said they gave up their white-collar jobs to raise their children, but plan to return to work after about two years. And they want more government support, in the form of welfare benefits and job security, the report said.

Under the law, new mothers are entitled to three to four months’ maternity leave, which they can take before or after their baby is born.

Kincee Li, who works for a magazine and is the mother of a 9-month-old boy, said: “I wish I could have taken more time off without having to give up my job altogether.”

Now that she’s back at work, Li’s parents look after her son.

Zhang Minghong, an associate professor in preschool education at East China Normal University, said it is vital for parents to develop close relationships with their children in their first three years of life.

“It helps the children to build trust and a sense of safety,” Zhang said.

Zhang Letian, a sociologist at Fudan University, said modern parents have a different approach to raising their children than the previous generation.

“In the past, parents and grandparents had much the same views, but in recent years there has been a lot of new thinking,” he said.

But the laws on parental leave make it hard for parents to care for young children in the way they want to, he said.


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