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A second chance at parenting

September 18, 2016

Relative comfort

Relative comfort:  The Pilot Project on Child Care Training for Grandparents has given Emily Ngan (left) confidence in leaving her newborns with her mother, Ada Leung (centre).

Modern family

Modern family:  The course covers the new technology and techniques used in modern childcare.

Child care

Child care:  Grandparents can learn how to keep babies safe in numerous situations.

Second chance

Second chance:  The training courses are popular with grandparents and fill quickly.

They say you are never too old to learn something new, therefore many grandparents have started training to become parents. And in a busy city like Hong Kong the scenario is not as odd as it may seem.


With both parents in many Hong Kong families working full time, their children are generally cared for by a domestic helper. Many of these parents do not learn the fundamentals of childcare.


The parents of these parents also missed out on learning how to care for young children, which can make their life difficult when they are asked to look after their grandchildren. And differences in traditional and modern childcare concepts and techniques can lead to family feuds.


To improve the situation, the Pilot Project on Child Care Training for Grandparents was announced in Financial Secretary John Tsang's 2016-17 Budget, with a total provision of 540 training places.


The Social Welfare Department launched the two-year programme in March. The training courses include contemporary knowledge and skills in childcare and strengthening intergenerational support and integration.


The Scout Association of Hong Kong is one of the government-approved organisations providing childcare training for grandparents.


Lifelong learning

Sixty-nine-year-old Ada Leung will be a grandmother in October. To help her daughter care for the new addition to the family, Madam Leung enrolled in the association's course.


She is learning the skills required to care for toddlers, and better family childcare communication.


"When my daughter was a baby I let a carer take care of her as I needed to work at that time, so I never developed the skills required to take care of babies."


Now retired, Madam Leung has attended the association's training course every Saturday since May.


After 60 hours of childcare lessons she feels very confident. She follows the baby bathing procedure perfectly when practising with a doll.


"Older people like me are afraid a baby will get cold, and so we put a lot of clothes on them. In fact, this may make the baby feel uncomfortable. Now I know the baby can be dressed appropriately at room temperature and the best way is to adjust the room temperature to set the air-conditioning to 25 degrees Celsius."


In safe hands

Madam Leung's daughter Emily Ngan said the course has provided good training and she is confident of letting her mother care for her newborn.


She said the course even teaches the correct method for preparing milk formula, which is different to what was done in the old days.


"For example, we should use hot water at a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Celsius to prepare the formula. In the past, people would just use their hands to test the water temperature.


"The training course has taught my mother to use an electric kettle or thermometer instead. It gives us clear instructions, so we are not just testing the milk by feeling."


Relating to relations

Madam Leung said the most valuable lesson she learned from the course was communication, especially between parents and grandparents.


"The course taught me how to better communicate with people. When we cannot change a person's mind, what we can do is communicate better with them and accommodate them."


Manager of the Scout Association's Education Centre Clara Cheung said the training courses are popular with grandparents and fill quickly.


She said these grandparents want to be retrained in childcare to avoid intergenerational conflict.


"The training outlines the new technology and techniques used in modern childcare, giving grandparents the confidence to care for their grandchildren.


"It also gives parents confidence in leaving their newborns with elderly family members."

Happy Family