Tag Archives: children

A or F, Grades Shouldn’t Matter in a Family

It is both sad and heartening to read Jenny Yeo’s account (“Teach, don’t demand, success”; ST, Aug 24). Our children do face a lot of pressure to perform but their sense of self-worth should not suffer because of it.

Parents need to ask, just how important are grades that make us willing to sacrifice our relationship with our child, and in extreme cases, the lives of our children?

Continue reading

YAY DADS, YAY FAMILIES!

3

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

Continue reading

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.

Our Journey towards Becoming a Family of 5

If I had to summarise the year 2014 in 3 words, it would be…

Intentional…

Challenging…

Hopeful…

It’s been a year marked with many transitions – and therein lies all the challenge, from adapting, changing, learning, growing… and just learning to be. I went from being a part-time working mom to becoming a stay-at-home mom, and the decision to stop working completely in order to be home with the children was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

My husband (let’s call him H) and I agreed that we wanted at least one of us to spend both quality and quantity time with our children while they were still young. We chose not to send them for academic enrichment classes, but for me to provide them with what we believe would be enriching outside of school instead.

When I stopped working, it was as if, to me, I was giving up something that I felt had given me an identity apart from being a mother. I had to constantly remind myself that my value did not lie solely on whether I was employed, but that I carried value regardless of what I chose to do.
One month after I stopped working, I found out that I was pregnant with or third child. And then began the onset of terrible, almost debilitating, morning sickness.

Photo Credit: Altamar via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Altamar via Compfight cc

While the children enjoyed having all of my time, I did spend quite a fair bit of time sick over the toilet, or being cooped up in bed. It was a struggle for me, and I’m really thankful for my husband’s unwavering support during this time.

Despite facing a really stressful season at work, he tried to work from home on some days. He went about picking up the ‘slack’ without complaint, doing the laundry, feeding the kids, cleaning the house and more.

There were times when I could not plan meals for the children, so H would try to help out with meals. To ease my worries, he enlisted the help of our neighbour and a couple of good friends to help me with meals on days that he couldn’t.

The arrival of #3 is a major transition for the entire family, so one thing we constantly try to do at home is to involve them in our pregnancy journey as much as possible.

To make the pregnancy relatable to the children, I communicate with them about what it’s like, and what I felt when both of them were in my tummy. We also teach them about anatomy, the baby’s different stages of growth, and bring them along for the doctor’s appointments as often as we can so that they get to ‘see’ their little brother.

In anticipation of the arrival of #3, we’ve been teaching our two children that it’s important to do things together – from playing to making decisions – and this involves a fair dose of conflict management as well.

It’s not always easy, but I’m glad the kids are open and willing to learn. It gives me great optimism about what’s to come.

2015 is going to be a significant and new chapter in our family, where we grow from just the 4 of us to a family of 5. I look forward to enjoying my entire family – husband, myself and my three children – and treasuring the moments I have together with them both as a family unit and with each of them individually.

We’ve also made a decision to be even more intentional with our children: to speak encouragement and discipline into their lives so that they can grow in confidence, discover their potential and build deep relationships with one another.

There are many things to look forward to in 2015, the top of which is family, and for that I am grateful.

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.

Support and Comfort Needed for All Expectant Mothers Contemplating Abortion

Having an abortion is a life-changing decision:  First and foremost for the unborn child; and it has been proven to have significant, lasting emotional and physical consequences for the would-be mother. As such, we welcome the move made by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to consider extending pre-abortion counselling to all women, and even members of her immediate family.

The psychological effects on a woman include depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal behaviours and substance abuse. A pattern of psychological problems has been identified as Post-Abortion Syndrome, which has been found to be a subset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Pre-Abortion Counselling prepares the woman mentally and emotionally to help circumvent such effects.

Some unforeseen effects may include strained relations with the woman’s partner, both sexual and emotional, and physical impact on the woman herself. The consequences of an abortion on a woman’s health and body should be clearly communicated to her, so that she is well-informed that the abortion could potentially affect her ability to conceive in the future or lead to other complications.

It should also be made known that abortion has contributed to population decline and demographic changes, resulting in an ‘ageing population’ that Singapore is no stranger to. It would be in our society’s interest that the cumulative criteria for mandatory pre-abortion counselling be altogether removed so that all women get equal opportunity to make an informed decision.

More importantly is the need for comprehensive Pre-Abortion counselling. We believe that the current framework fails to address the reasons why women seek an abortion in the first place and it should certainly not be overlooked. Including the woman’s partner or any involved immediate family can also provide the woman with a much stronger support system than if she were to make the decision alone.

In addition to ensuring that the psychological, relational, physical and societal impact of abortion is emphasised during pre-abortion counselling, we propose to factor in multiple channels of support for the woman and to clearly present alternatives to abortion. Post-Abortion Counselling is also highly recommended as a preventive measure against Post-Abortion Syndrome.

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to the Straits Times Forum on Dec 4 in response to the changes Ministry of Health is proposing on the criteria for pre-abortion counselling. And an adapted version was sent to TODAY Voices.

Provide Support and Comfort for all Contemplating Abortion

We welcome the move made by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to consider extending pre-abortion counseling to all women.

Pre-abortion counselling is presently mandatory for women, regardless of marital status. We support the opinion that pre-abortion counselling should be mandatory for all, regardless of citizenship, level of education or number of children born to the woman. The consequences of abortion are not limited to only certain groups of women, but affect all women, and they can even extend to other members of the immediate family.

Abortion is a life-altering experience that can have significant ongoing emotional and physical consequences for a woman, so those considering ending their pregnancy deserve to receive solid information – not only about the process by which their baby’s life will be ended, but also regarding the potential impact it will have on them – before making their decision.

Abortion can cause both short-term and long-term physical complications, including significantly affecting a woman’s ability to have healthy pregnancies in the future.

Substantial research has found that going through an abortion has long-term psychological effects on a woman. A comprehensive, long-term study by a research team in New Zealand in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that abortion in young women is associated with increased risks of major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal behaviours and substance dependence. Post-Abortion Syndrome has been identified in research as a subset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Pre-abortion counselling needs to address relational issues to prevent emotional traumatisation, especially if the woman’s abortion decision seems circumstantially inevitable. Abortion can pose challenges to the significant relationships in the woman’s life, not just with her partner, but also her future children, possibly due to post-abortion depression and guilt. Abortion is not only a medical issue. Thus, pre-abortion counselling must encompass more than an explanation of medical procedures, potential risks and after-effects of an abortion. Every woman contemplating abortion needs to be fully provided with all the necessary information and clear explanations of the risks and consequences involved, channels of support including social services, as well as other options she has. This will empower her to make truly informed decisions regarding her unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy that will affect her own life as well as that of her current and future family.

Teaching young children respect for others

My husband and I were driving the kids to school one morning. We were in a middle of a conversation when my 3-year-old son suddenly shouted, “Stop talking!” It turned out that his favourite song had come on and he couldn’t hear it over our voices.

I chuckled, and was tempted to shrug off his cute outburst. But instead, I seized that teachable moment to explain that what he just did was disrespectful. Then I had him repeat after me, “Excuse me, Papa and Mama, I cannot hear the music.”

Children are naturally self-centred, and respect for others is not instinctive. Neither is respect easily defined in words. Here are some ways we teach our young ones respect:

Demonstrate respectful behaviour

Photo Credit: MyTudut via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: MyTudut via Compfight cc

Our children are watching us all the time – we are their first and most important role models. So there’s no better place to teach respect than in the home. Do children see their dad and mum speaking kindly and being considerate to each other? Do they see us working as a team in taking care of the home?

When speaking to my children, I try to be mindful of my tone of voice, not to talk down to them, snap at them or shout. I also try my best to listen attentively when they have something to tell me, no matter how trivial it may seem. It is also important to validate their feelings with words of affirmation and encouragement.

Set ground rules
This will differ between each household. Some of mine include:

  • You don’t get what you whine for
  • “You get what you get and you don’t get upset” (it rhymes and your kids will get a kick out of reciting this phrase, try it!)
  • No interrupting
  • No name-calling
  • Respect physical boundaries

When rules are broken, appropriate consequences should be delivered. The key is to be consistent – you can’t enforce a rule one day and let it slide the next day.

Give children the words for good manners
In our household, we start our requests with “May I”. For example, “Mom, may I please have more juice?” or “May I please play with your toy?” This really helps a young child verbalise his thoughts, rather than whine or cry. I also teach my children to greet elders with the appropriate terms, such as “auntie” and “uncle”, and to look them in the eye when saying hello or goodbye.

Practice showing respect to others
I take my kids to visit their great-grandmother at the nursing home regularly. I encourage them to chat with her and give hugs. She is wheelchair-bound so they take turns to push her out to the garden or the common area to watch TV. This teaches them that everyone deserves respect, regardless of age or capabilities.

So, back to our car ride to school. Shortly after my son’s favourite song was over, my husband and I continued talking again. Lo and behold, we heard a sweet voice…

“Excuse me, Papa and Mama, I cannot hear the music.”

LJ and her husband have been married 7 years and have three delightful children. They keep the romance alive by putting the children to bed early and listening to their favourite playlist of 90’s love songs.

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.