Tag Archives: bonding

YAY DADS, YAY FAMILIES!

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We applaud our government for doubling paternity leave from 1 to 2 weeks. While it is our hope that more and more companies will give dads the extra time for family, here are 3 simple things you can do with your kids today! 

  1. Teach them to feed themselves
    oreo balls

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2 Funerals and a Darn Good Movie: Reflections of a Regular Dad

In many ways, this is not the kind of December I’m used to – my wife and I just returned from a funeral, our second this ‘festive’ month. It was a child’s funeral – a 14 month-old baby girl, who died suddenly in her sleep, leaving behind two very distraught parents.

The first funeral was held in honour of our dear friend’s father who suffered a stroke from a medical complication and within a week, passed on. The funeral, although somber, had a mood akin to that of an alumni gathering where friends gathered and shared the life stories of the dearly departed. My friend and his family were blessed with so many anecdotes of his father from all who came. For the grieving family, these meaningful recounts concretized the great legacy he has left behind.

TheSims-BWI turn 44 next year, and if all goes well, I hope to outlive my own father who passed away at 44 due to cancer. As a young teenager who lost his Dad prematurely, I strive daily to be the best husband, the best Daddy and the best employee – very tall order for just a regular bloke. Even tougher as my wife and I are standing at some major crossroads in our lives – having just adopted a newborn son in June this year; our daughter entering Primary One in Jan 2015 and both of us having increased responsibilities at work. These add to the stresses of life and we all know stress does not augment well for one’s health.

The second funeral – the death of the baby girl was more tragic. Children and caskets should never be in the same frame, ever. Having been through child bereavement (a path less travelled), we knew how important it is to have someone there to offer condolence and support. And we did. We met up twice with this well-mannered young Christian couple who had to bear the tragic loss of their beautiful 14 month-old girl.

Children are a blessing; they are precious and entrusted by God for us to love, for a season. Children are not a ‘status symbol’ nor should they be part of our ‘marriage life’ that can be conveniently ‘taken out’ and put back when it suits our convenience.

In Singapore, it is easy to confuse being a busy parent with being an engaged, effective parent. Enrichment classes, camps, parties, performances are all legitimate pursuits but do not be fooled into thinking that we are engaging our children. I’m very much guilty of that.

In this regard, there were moments, too frequent to even recall that I have failed as a Dad. Too busy or tired from work to answer my curious 6 year-old’s questions, and getting easily impatient with the crying newborn. It is tempting to let my daughter do her own thing since she is now more independent. It is tempting to let someone else care for the newborn after a hectic workday. But each moment I don’t engage my children is a moment lost forever. We only have so much time to make precious connections with the precious children God has entrusted to us. Every moment spent with them are opportunities to forge memories that matter. Quoting the movie ‘Interstellar’, “We are here… to be the memories for our kids.” But first, to be in their memories, we need to be present.

I hope to engage my children and my wife more. Anything… to just enjoy their presence and engage them intentionally. For without engagement, there can’t be a relationship. And without it, it would be tough to be an effective parent in this modern, messed-up world.

‘We’re all travelling through time, together, everyday of our lives… All we can do is do is our best to relish this remarkable life.’ – About Time

‘About Time’ stars award-winning actor Bill Nighy and is a fictitious story about a father and son who have the ability to travel through time. Due to the biological randomness of conception, to go back in time and return again would mean the son having a different baby each time he returns. The challenge arrives when the father is dying of cancer and the son is about to welcome his newborn. They have to choose a moment where they would relish it for one last time. The moment they picked was when the son was much younger, playing at the beach with his Dad – a simple moment where a powerful connection was made – just a tender moment between father and son.

I wonder what moments my children and wife would pick to remember me by. I hope for those to be positive moments – simple, meaningful and yet powerful enough to make that all-so-important connection which stand the tests of time. One that leaves many good stories for them to tell and one that sums up a good legacy I’ve left behind.

This is my hope as I continue my journey into 2015 and beyond.

This guest post is an extract with permission of David Sim. Together with his wife Angie, they blog at Life’s Tiny Miracles. To read the original post, please click here.

Recognizing and Celebrating Each Child

October saw different ones sharing ways to love your children; to round up the series, I’ve been asked to share the principle Cheryl and I live by when it comes to loving our daughters and parenting in general:

Recognizing and celebrating each child’s uniqueness.

We believe that children are a gift from God, and recognize that each child is different. Therefore we purpose to appreciate, enjoy, and celebrate each child’s differences… and I would encourage you to do the same too.

How to recognize your child’s uniqueness (or differences) 
As you spend time with your children, communicating and observing them – you’ll be able to see the differences between them. Once we recognize that each child is unique, it’ll lead to us wanting to treat each child differently.

As a case in point, both my eldest and youngest daughter share the same primary love language (Words of Affirmation). Yet when it comes to displaying the language, what we say differs; I look for different traits and characteristics to praise.

My eldest daughter is hard worker, and has achieved many things, so Cheryl and I affirm her for her effort, and for living to her fullest potential. As for my youngest daughter, she is enthusiastic, and loves helping people, so we encourage and affirm her positive attitude. We celebrate her love and compassionate heart for others, and appreciate her for helping those around her.

We tell our daughters that their uniqueness is a gift, and we make it a point to celebrate their uniqueness and individuality.

Why celebrate each child’s uniqueness?
Some of my friends feel that if you have two children, where one is book smart and the other not so, you try to make the one who is not as book-smart less discouraged by not celebrating the result. In my view, it’s better to recognize each of their strong points rather than downplaying it.

This goes back to the first point where each child is different. Perhaps your child who is not as book-smart may be gifted in sports. Or perhaps your child enjoys baking, or writing new music. I am certain that there will certainly be an area for you to celebrate and take delight in, regardless of what it is.

For example, my younger daughter enjoys sports, and when she does well, we bring the whole family out to celebrate. One is better at arts, another is better in studying … I tell each of my daughters that it’s okay to excel in different areas, and we celebrate them all.

In essence, it’s about celebrating each child, not toning down celebrations for one. As you affirm and appreciate their differences, you’ll see them blossom and grow in confidence and stature.

A family that celebrates together stays together
When we celebrate one of my daughters, we do so as a family. Recently when one of my daughters came in 19th at a national sports meet, we had a nice dinner at home and commemorated the occasion with a cake. To us, it’s not about having a lavish celebration, but rather, a simple and meaningful affair.

That said, celebrations need not be confined to achievements; it should also be about the person and character. For example, if your child spends time volunteering at orphanage to read stories to the children you can celebrate and praise his/her compassionate nature.

In due course we noticed that it helped to tamper down the need for comparison and actually strengthened the sisterly bond between them. They are able to rejoice together with their sisters wholeheartedly and are proud of them.

As for Cheryl and I, we are proud of the young ladies our daughters are becoming, and would not have wanted it any other way.

Editor’s note: This post concludes our Loving our Children series. You can view the other posts in the series here. For inspiration on effective ways to love your children, visit our website and/or download a free activity pack!

Today’s post comes courtesy of Andy Sim, an IT professional by training. He is happily married and has 4 daughters.

The Harmony Project

With the excessive amount of sibling bickering my husband and I have seen at home lately, I decided to embark on a much-needed lesson about harmony for our 7-year old and 4-year old.

Taking inspiration from one of my favorite sites, kidsofintegrity.com, I kicked off our lesson with a craft project that the children had to complete together with minimal assistance.

Using mostly recycled materials and armed with a single set of tools, the children were ‘forced’ to work together to create a guitar and some shakers which they could then use to play in their own harmony band.

Craft Supplies for Harmony Project

Here’s a list of the craft tools and general materials we used:

  • An empty tissue box
  • 4-6 Rubber bands
  • 2 used toilet rolls
  • 4 balloons
  • Corn kernels (or green/red beans, rice)
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Colored Paper

To make the guitar, my 7-year old began by cutting out a rectangle out from the top of the tissue box.

Harmony Project - Cutting out the tissue box

My 7-year old dutifully cutting along the outline I marked out.

I gave the kids free room to decorate their guitar with one instruction: do it together. And they happily obeyed, working together to decorate their guitar.

The two kids hard at work!

The two kids hard at work.

To complete making the guitar, the kids strapped the rubber bands around the box and over the hole on the top.

Proud smiles all around for having successfully created their very own guitar!

Proud smiles all around for having successfully created their very own guitar!

That done, the kids got started on creating their shakers. Each took responsibility for decorating one roll.

Hard at work decorating their very own shakers!

Hard at work decorating their very own shakers!

Once done, we cut the top part of the balloon off, and covered one end of the toilet roll with it. A rubber band was looped at the bottom to ensure the ‘fillings’ of the shaker wouldn’t spill out!

Attach the top part of the balloon to the shaker.

Attach the top part of the balloon to the shaker.

My 4-year old helped to fill a quarter of the roll with corn kernels, while his elder sister helped to cover the other end of the toilet roll with another balloon top. If you don’t have corn kernels at home, substitute it with anything you think would make a good sound – like rice or green beans.

Filling up the shaker with corn kernels.

Filling up the shaker with corn kernels.

With the focus on completing a craft together, the children were able to spend at least an hour without petty bickering. It was such a delight to see them have fun creating something together in harmony.

Before they went off to use their new, handmade musical instruments, we had a short discussion on the experience of working together. By having to share tools and making a concerted effort to agree on how to embellish their craft pieces, the children learnt the importance of cooperation. They also practiced patience and using encouraging words with one another. Most importantly, they had fun!

The two maestros showing off their new shakers.

The two maestros showing off their new shakers.

It was a great time of bonding and building up the relationship between siblings, and a handy lesson I intend to use regularly from now on!

Sue-Ann is a mother of two (with another on the way).  She enjoys nothing better than daydreaming of new ways for her family to take the stress out of living busy city lives.  Her children, Rainbow Sky and Chubs Salami – nicknames they gave themselves – are 7 and 4.

Courage Redefined

Four fathers and nine kids made Project Fathers Unite.  That was what my husband and three other fathers called their day out with their children. The four men were on leave from work and decided to come together to spend a whole day of quality time with their kids. Scored points with the wives? You bet. The program for the day was outdoor play and rollerblading at Pasir Ris Park, dinner at the airport, followed by more running and bouncing around the airport.

We all met up a few days later at another function and talked about it. The mothers agreed that this was definitely something the fathers should do more often. One of the mums asked, “Did they wash their hands before dinner?” A silent pause from the dads ensued, followed by an assurance that the kids washed their hands after play at the park. Not a direct or expected answer, but the task was done nonetheless. And that’s the difference between father-love from mother-love. Fathers play and parent differently from mothers; and kids can tell the difference; as observed by my son, “Papa plays with us, Mummy takes care of us.”

A lot of research has gone into why and how fathers matter in parenting. A father is more than just a second adult in the house (although sometimes they don’t act like adults, especially when they’ve got their latest electronic gadgets). Fathers challenge “go faster!” Mothers advise “be careful!” Mothers cuddle, fathers roughhouse. Fathers bring a set of unique parenting skills to the family, something that mothers can’t replace.

Some may feel that a father’s main role is to provide for the family, maybe spend some time with the kids on their homework and that’s good enough. After all, our fathers and their fathers didn’t really spend that much time with us, and we turned out fine.

Adam: “I’ve been doing about half of what I should be doing as a dad.”

Shane: “You’re being too hard on yourself. You’ve been a good enough father.”

Adam: “I don’t want to be a good enough father…”

Good enough? These words of Adam and Shane are taken from the movie Courageous. I had the privilege of watching the preview of this powerful movie. It is action-packed, inspirational, thought-provoking, humorous and touching all rolled into 130 minutes. It is a movie by fathers, for fathers, to reconcile with their past, engage with their present and move forward with a bold resolution for the future.

Why the title “Courageous” though? I thought words like “Honor” or “Strength” may seem more related to fathers. What’s courage got to do with fatherhood? I like this quote that I came across  that encapsulates what the movie is about and why it is called Courageous – “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

There is a resolution in the movie that calls fathers to declare and commit to. When I read the words of The Resolution, I then understood that it truly takes a courageous man to make such a bold commitment. Words like “I will bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength. I will train them to honor authority and live responsibly. I will confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy… I will learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God…” This is a call to fathers to a standard above mediocrity, a standard of excellence, and more than just “good enough”.

Courageous is now screening at Cathay cinemas.