Tag Archives: communication

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.

Men and Destinations

couple driving on the road

Photo Credit: penelopejonze via Compfight cc

I’ve found that on road trips and holidays, some men can be a tad too particular about getting from Pt A to Pt B on time.

If we drive at 110km/h we can reach San Francisco in 6.5 hours.

“Honey, look, let’s stop for pastries at Solvang. The town looks pretty.”
“We can’t. It will throw our timing off and we will get caught in the traffic.”
“Honey, look, let’s stop by the beach coz it has a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.”
“Please, we don’t have time coz we’ll be late.”
“Late for?”
“Late in getting there in 6.5 hours.”

Years ago, there was a cruise ad in Australia targeted at widows that read “Taking you to places your late husband wouldn’t stop at.

Sometimes we can be so focused on getting to our destination that we fail to enjoy life’s beauty along the way.

I’m learning to do more of that. Now when I’m late in picking my wife, I tell her I had to stop to enjoy the moment.

Gary is the resident “blogger of few words” whose brevity and takes on love, life and daily interactions with his son are rather popular with readers. He loves his wife and son dearly, and enjoys jamming together with them as a family band.

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.

Loving our Children: Dealing with Differences

Communicating love to our children can be challenging – and even more so in the face of differences and difficulties. Noelle kindly agreed to share her parenting journey and some practical advice.

Hi Noelle! Could you introduce yourself and your family please?

The Ow Family (2012)I have 3 sons aged 8, 10 and 12. After delivering my second, with my husband’s blessings, I decided to quit my job and be a stay home mother. I want to be there during my children’s formative years to impart the right values into their lives.

My second son has dyslexia, and this affects him academically and socially. Being home allows me to support him better during some of these challenging moments. There are good days and not-so-good days staying home with 3 boys. However, it has been rewarding watching my children’s “firsts” first-hand, and being able to be there for them during both the good and bad times.

I hope you don’t mind me asking – since J2 has dyslexia, does the way you communicate love to him differ from the other two boys?

J1’s primary love language is Quality Time. J2 has a mix of two: Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time, while J3’s primary love language is Physical Touch. That itself shows that the way we communicate love to him is different. For example, we will thank him for setting up the table for meals, and this makes him happy.

Dyslexia is a learning disability, which means that J2 doesn’t do well compared to his peers in school. The low scores invite teasing and name-calling from his classmates sometimes, and it affects his self-esteem.

At times, even though he may know the answers to questions he will be uncertain and need reassurance from us that he is on the right track. We have to constantly encourage him not to give up and believe in himself.

When it comes to tests and exams, even though he may not have passed the papers, as long as he did better than the previous round we will affirm him for his effort and progress rather than focusing on why he didn’t pass.

It looks like being intentional in showing your love plays a key role…

Yes! With 3 sons, half my time spent with them involves mediating their squabbles when they are playing with each other. The remaining half of the time is supervising their school work … Not exactly the most easy situation to express love per se.

When it comes to loving my 3 boys, I have to intentionally pull myself out of the ‘supervisory’ role and express my love for them. I also make it a point to have some time for reflection towards the end of each day; if I remember that I have not expressed love to them, I will do so during the time of prayer we have together at night.

Speaking to my children in their preferred language does not come easily or instinctively. Honestly, even though J3 and I share the same primary love language (Physical Touch), there were moments when I was supervising or disciplining him and found it challenging to express his love language.

In the beginning it took a lot more effort and intentionality, but with time, it gets better. I also realised that when I put in more effort to express my love for my sons, they are more open in relating to me in the many areas of their lives.

So how do the boys relate to you?

It helps that my sons talk to me about almost anything, every day.

J1 will sometimes come up to me personally and talk about school, such as the things he found funny. He also enjoys art like I do, so we have a common topic that we can always fall back on. My time talking with him is enjoyable to the point that I sometimes ask him which pair of shoes goes well with an outfit – which is something that you would expect mother-daughter pairs and not mother-son pairs to do!

J2 attends dyslexia classes twice a week. During the times when I send him to and from classes, we have our “alone time” with each other. We talk about school and things he is curious about. I like how he always remember (and does not mind) saying, ‘I love you’, in person and over the phone. It reminds me to affirm him of my love too.

J3 is the youngest and also the smallest in built. It is natural that we protect him instinctively by carrying and holding his hands. Even his brothers enjoy piggy-backing him around in the name of play. He also often holds my arm and slips it around his shoulder. It is his way of telling me he needs love, his way.

With three boys, I have to intentionally make time for one-on-one moments with them. It is something I always tell myself not to neglect. They grow up so fast…

Time passes fast indeed. Any suggestions on effectively communicating love to our kids?

As parents, we have to know both our personal love language and our children’s. Having this awareness is the first step to remind ourselves to speak each other’s preferred love language. It might be awkward the first few times as it could be unnatural for most of us, but with practice, it becomes a little easier.

Also, it helps if we show our love for our spouse openly. My husband and I will hug and kiss in front of our sons. Sometimes they will join in the hug, or we will pull them into our embrace. When such little actions become daily affairs, it becomes easier for us to convey our love to one another.

For the record, it didn’t start that way for me. I was raised in a traditional Asian family where my parents didn’t display love for one another and to us children openly. Thus it was awkward when I first started displaying affection for my husband in front of our sons, but it got more enjoyable as time went by.

Before we end, do you have any advice for parents of kids with dyslexia (or any other condition) on loving their child?

I believe that recognizing and acknowledging that our child has a learning disability is the first step to discovering how to love them. In Singapore we parents seem to celebrate our children’s achievements more than who they are as person.

At the end of the day, it is not just about the academic results, but about their progress and their character. We learn to celebrate our children’s little successes in all their milestones – and this has to go beyond their studies.

I’d sum it up like this: it’s about moving forward together with them, one step at a time.

Do you have any stories to share on showing love to sons? Share with us by leaving a comment below!

Loving Our Children: Communicating with daughters and teenagers

Andy is an IT professional by training and a dad of 4 daughters. Yes, you read that right – Andy and his wife have raised four strong, beautiful & gracious girls. He has much to share from personal experience, so let’s get things rolling!

Hi Andy! Could you introduce yourself and your family to our readers please?

I’m an ordinary guy who is greatly blessed with a loving wife, Cheryl. We have 4 wonderful daughters: Danielle (23), Davelle (22), Dominique (18) and Darienne (16).

As a family, we enjoy doing things together such as preparing meals, eating together, and going on family staycations and vacations. There’s nothing better than being with family!

Andy's 4 daughtersAs a dad, what’s it like bringing up 4 daughters?

To be honest, I actually find it easy. Girls are generally more sensitive, so I find that my daughters are aware of my needs and are expressive in caring for me and the family. They care for and help each other out as well, so that also makes it easier.

On the flipside, because I have 4 daughters, I end up driving them around a lot more – probably a lot more than I would if I have sons. I think it’s because I’m protective to some extent; when they go out late at night with friends I volunteer to drive them home.

This is where communication plays a major role. I share my heart with them, and let them know that the reason why I don’t want them to be home late is because I’m concerned about their safety.

Many dads have shared with us that communicating with their teenage daughters is a challenge. Do you have any advice based on your own experiences?

Communication is important at all stages, but it is extremely vital when they are teenagers. My suggestion: Take time to observe and communicate with your daughter. Let’s break it down further.

• Take time to observe:
Dads, this means that you really have to spend quality time with them (regardless of their love language). Be there for them and watch them grow up. Observe their moods and genuinely care for them.

• Communicating with your daughter:
If you observe that something is going wrong, show her that you are there for her by listening to her.

I cannot emphasise how important it is to let her share and talk…! I have learnt that it is not so much about teaching and sharing, but rather, letting them express themselves. In the course of conversation you can share your own experiences and how you dealt with things. As she reaches a conclusion as to what to do, that’s when you have to love and support her.

Is there any particular way that you convey your love and support for your daughter?

When they are in Secondary School, I make it a point to attend Date with Dad with them. I also make it a point to bring them out for a special one-on-one dinner on their 18th birthday. It’s almost like a rite of passage for each daughter!

My wife and I believe that it’s important to commemorate this milestone, so I’ll bring them out for a nice celebration, treating them like the grown-up lady that they have become.

That being said, I believe it’s an ongoing process. Cheryl and I learnt about the 5 Love Languages before the children were born, and we used that to identify how they receive love best so that we can effectively convey it to them.

Oh! Since you knew about it from the beginning, have your daughters’ love language evolved with time?

No, it hasn’t, even though their responses to how we give love may vary.

For example, if D likes quality time, but because of the mood or circumstances (e.g. busy and stressed out by schoolwork), how she reacts to me wanting to spend time with her may come back with a less than positive response.

As parents we tend to think that if they don’t respond, it means that they don’t like it. From my observation with my daughters, certain responses are situational. So the next time when you display that particular love language, they may react differently.

Sounds applicable to teenagers as a whole, not just daughters…

I believe wholeheartedly in doing the following three steps over and again in showing love:

Observing ⇒ Communicating ⇒ Supporting

When we observe their behaviour over a longer period of time, we then can understand what makes them feel most loved, and then adjust accordingly. And as always, communication is vital, no matter how old your child is.

Do you have any last words for parents of teens when it comes to communicating love?

I would encourage parents to love your child just as he/she is. It is a great way to convey that you love them. This is especially important if you have more than 1 child.

This applies to all parents, not just parents with teens. Recognize that every child is special and unique. Appreciate, enjoy and celebrate his/her differences!

Have any personal experiences to share about loving teenagers? Share them in the comments below!-

Editor’s note: Date with Dad is our signature event that will be happening in February. Registration is now open! Find out more about this exclusive father-daughter event here. You can also download the Dad’s Guide as a resource to help you strengthen your relationship with your daughter!

This post is part of Loving our Children series that we’re running this October in conjunction with Children’s Day. 

Loving Our Children: The importance of observation

Joanna Foo is a mom of two primary-school going boys aged 7 and 10. She agreed to share with us how being observant helped her to notice her sons’ needs, and how she communicates love to them.

Joanna Foo Family Pic

Joanna, thanks for agreeing to this! Could you introduce yourself and your family?

I’m a mum to 2 boys: Joshua, aged 7, and Josiah, aged 10. As for my husband, he’s a freelance sports coach.

Right now I’m working from home; we made the decision around Nov 2009 that I would work from home so as to be able to nurture our children on my own.

That sounds great! How has it been being around them at home?

It is a privilege to able to be around them though there are good and bad times. There are also times when I get bogged down with work; Josiah would ask questions like “Mum, when will you be free to play with us?”

I treat it as a “warning sign” for me to know that he needs my time…!

It’s nice that you take it positively!

I’m thankful that Josiah seeks to spend time with me even as he gets older.

I believe that as parents, it is important to be sensitive and open to pick up our children’s needs through their speech and actions, and to find ways to meet them.

So what do you do to try and meet their emotional needs?

Both Josiah and Joshua value the spoken word. When I cook meals, my boys tell me “Mmm… the food looks good, Mum!” Their verbal appreciation for what I’ve made, though simple (like steamed meat, sunny-side up egg, vegetable soup and rice) is an indication that they value words of affirmation.

I also realized that they like to hug both my husband and myself freely, so we also intentionally be affectionate with them.

It sounds like observing your children is a key way you tune in to your children’s needs. Do you have any tips and suggestions for other parents?

I believe that as parents, we need to evaluate whether we have given priority to investing time and effort in our families. If we view our families as being important to us, we will naturally think of ways to spend time and connect with them amidst our busy schedule.

When we spend time connecting with them, it will not be difficult to know them and their needs 🙂

How have you discovered your children’s needs? Share with us in the comments below!

This post is part of Loving our Children series that we’re running this October in conjunction with Children’s Day. Discover ways to effectively love your children on our website and download a free activity pack!

3 Phrases Your Children Should Learn From You

Children learn more from what you are than what you teach

Parents, our children watch and learn from how we act – and this includes what we do and say. They will reflect our behavior subconsciously (i.e. not deliberately) so we need to model the behavior we want to see in our kids.

To create a positive home environment and be a role model for your kids, here are 3 phrases that you should use:

+ I’m Sorry
Although our children believe we are perfect and/or superheroes, the truth is that we are only human – and will make mistakes. Your hunger can cause you to be worse than Oscar the Grouch, you may blurt out something wrong by accident, or you could forget your child’s all-important performance in school … many things can happen, and it can’t be helped.

So instead of trying to run from it, deal with the mistakes instead by learning to say sorry. And when your children see you stepping up to apologize, they learn that (a) it’s okay to make a mistake and (b) saying sorry isn’t as difficult or intimidating as they think it to be.

Tip: If saying sorry is difficult, think about this: what matters more, being right or making amends?

+ I Love You
The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman are widely known: quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and words of affirmation.

Even if your family’s love language is not words of affirmation, it is still important to say “I love you”. Most people still need to hear “I love you” in order to feel that they are loved, and by verbalizing your love for your family members, especially your children, it reassures them and reinforces the fact that you love them,

Tip: If you can’t bring yourself to say “I love you”, why not send a message or leave a note for them somewhere obvious (like in the toilet)?

+ Thank You
Showing your appreciation is a powerful way to affirm your family members, and also shows that you recognize the efforts that they have put in. When you say “thank you”, you send a message to your children that showing gratitude for those around them is important, and they will learn to do the same as well 🙂

Tip: When you start saying “thank you”, go beyond the things that people do for you, but start thanking them for who they are!