Work stress, parenting and child education top the list of challenges faced by Hong Kong families, a survey has found. It revealed that nearly 60 per cent or 300 of 512 households, were unhappy with long working hours and heavy workloads. Patricia Chu Yeung Pak-yu, chairwoman of the Consortium of Institutes on Family in the Asian Region, which commissioned the June/September study, said 'the government should consider maximum working hours legislation and encourage employers to provide more flexible working hours'. She said many international corporations had adopted family-friendly policies in recent years, which for example, allowed employees to take time off, or work at home when their children were sick. 'It is good business sense,' Mrs Chu said. 'Employees are most productive when they can strike a balance between work and life, particularly life with their families.' She said family members also needed to recognise the importance of family. 'People have to think about their responsibilities and the contributions they can make,' she said. 'It is the foundation of a harmonious family.' More than 50 per cent of survey respondents said it was difficult to get children to listen to their parents and a similar proportion were worried that children could not obtain the best education opportunities. Other concerns included health care, financial difficulties and family relationships. Consortium member Kwok Wai-keung, who is also general manager of the Hong Kong Christian Service, said parents in 'nuclear families' lacked role models. More than 85 per cent of the households interviewed said they only involved one or two generations living together, which often meant grandparents were absent. 'Parents need to be equipped with necessary knowledge and skills to bring up healthy and well-adjusted children. We will need more guidance on parenting,' he said. The consortium, incorporated in September, is a coalition of social service groups to raise concerns on family issues. Chaired by Mrs Chu, a former chief of the Equal Opportunities Commission and deputy director of Social Welfare, the group will conduct further studies in other Asian regions. The study was carried out by the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong.