Tag Archives: dad

Telling Our Teens They are Worth the Wait

The rise in underage sex is not an issue of sexual liberalization or promiscuity (“Underage sex on the rise in Singapore, say social workers”, Feb 9). The fall in teen births is not an issue of contraception or health education (“Teen births drop to 20-year low”, Feb 9). The underpinning common issue here is how our teens see and value themselves.

Over the weekend, 171 fathers spent a few hours valuing their daughters at Focus on the Family’s annual Date with Dad event. Why? Because research shows unwaveringly that Dad is the first guy a girl gives her heart to.

The reality though is this:

  • With many dual-income households today, children return home after school to an empty house or to non-parental caregivers. They are imbued with messages that they need to excel academically, that their worth is based on their performance. Often, less attention is given towards filling their love tanks with the knowledge that they are accepted, affirmed and approved by their parents for who they are and not what they have accomplished.
  • Movies and television programs have become more sexually graphic and explicit, with characters in the media losing their virginity and engaging in sex with “benefits” without the reality of consequences like pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and being emotionally hurt. Pornography teaches young men that women are mere sexual objects to be used for physical pleasure, while young women receive the message that to get “love” they have to give sex.
  • Explicitly or implicitly telling our youth that “they are going to have sex anyway, so we might as well teach them how to do it safely” can send them a disempowering message that they have neither the ability for self-control nor delayed gratification.

Research shows that teens are less likely to engage in premarital sex if they have a close, warm relationship with their parents, and whose parents clearly communicate their expectations regarding sexual behaviour and the reasons for sexual boundaries. When teens feel the unconditioned love from the parents, it will prevent them from looking for love in the wrong places.

People are built for intimacy. As parents and society, let’s give the message to our young people that intimate sexual activity is an expression of love reserved for marriage. Why? Because they are worth the wait!

References:

  1. Cheryl B. Aspy et al., Journal of Adolescence 30 (2007): 449–466.
  2. Bruce J. Ellis et al., “Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?” Child Development 74, No. 3 (2003): 801–821.
  3. Resnick MD et al. Protecting adolescents from harm: findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. JAMA 1997;278:823-32.
  4. Karofsky PS et al. Relationship between adolescent parental communication and initiation of first intercourse by adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health 2000: 28; 41-45.

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to The Straits Times Forum on February 10 in response to the issue of rising numbers of teens engaging in sex before marriage.

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How my Dad Changed my Perspective on Love and Marriage Without Knowing It

I always wondered how Dad put up with Mum’s perpetual lateness (and why he married her when he hates being late) … and when I found out by chance, it changed my life.

It was a Saturday afternoon; I was running late to meet a friend (as usual) so Dad offered to drop me off. Ever thankful, I dashed into the car while he calmly started the car and got onto the road.

As he lamented and questioned why all his kids inherited Mum’s trait of being late and zilch of his love for punctuality, it made me pause.

“Dad,” I asked slowly, “You get mad whenever mum is late. So what made you choose to marry her despite knowing that she will always be late when you absolutely abhor lateness?”

Photo Credit: Deannster via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Deannster via Compfight cc

He stared ahead at the road, and then answered quietly, “Because I love your mother more than I love being punctual.”

That one quiet sentence changed my life; it reframed my perspective of love and marriage, and I never looked at love and marriage (or at them) the same way ever again.

Out of curiosity, I asked Mum why she married Dad.

“Because he loves me for who I am. You can see how much your Dad loves me, right? I knew he loved me and would be a good father to the children. Sweetheart, you need to marry a man who loves you as you are, a man who will put you (and the children) first, giving his all to take care of you.”

Speechless. I couldn’t say more.

Tears welling up in my eyes, I squeaked out some excuse about needing the toilet and ran there to have a good cry.

My parents have always told me to look out for a good man, and so on … but nothing could have spoken to me more than their life example. The way Dad loves Mum (and all of us, to be honest) is a real inspiration.

Truth be told, Dad telling me why he married Mum is one of the most precious memories that I have of my time with him. And when my kids ask how I decided to marry their father, I’ll tell them this:

“When your Grandpa told me why he loved Grandma, and how I should choose my future husband… that’s how I decided.”

And then I’ll share with them this same story in the hopes that they will learn the greatest lesson of all: that loving someone is about loving them beyond their flaws and weaknesses.

This guest post comes courtesy of Xin W., a happily married post-graduate student.

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.

Would I do Plastic Surgery?

Editor’s note: This is a follow-up from Tuesday’s post on how youths these days seek to attain that “perfect look”.

I admit, I am a victim of vanity. I wish I was born with a smaller and sharper nose. Doesn’t this sound familiar?  As it is with all vain people, wishing to change parts of our appearance is common, especially if you weren’t born looking like Emma Watson.  But would I ever undergo plastic or cosmetic surgery to change my features? My answer would be a solid no.

A good majority of us have heard the perennial argument against plastic surgery – our features are unique to us and we must learn to love and accept ourselves for who we are. However, I would like to share another reason which I have discovered upon further reflection and introspection.

During my internship, I was tasked to read through some parenting blogs. As a result, I was suddenly exposed to a brand new perspective on things – the world as parents see it. It was interesting to note that amongst the numerous fresh insights I garnered, I also noticed a common thread of thought that weaved through the blog stories – the joy of discovering themselves in their children.

One very interesting post by Nick Pan was illuminating for me. He asked what is, to me, an interesting question: “Would my baby be cute?” It may seem like a quirky fear to struggle with, but it isn’t necessarily so when you stop to think about it. His fears disappeared the moment he laid eyes on her and I quote,

“Then It dawned upon me. My child is beautiful to me because my child is a product of my wife and I. My child looks familiar as she has the genetics from both my wife and I. My eyes, my wife’s grace, my nose, my wife’s lips. No matter how our baby looks, she is going to look familiar; she is going to look like the product of our love.”

So why would I not agree to undergo plastic surgery if I were given the chance to do it for free? It’s simply because I am a product of my parents’ love. I look familiar to my parents, and what they see in me, is what I see in them. Every part of my face and body has come from the unique and intricate combination of my parents’ genetics.

I imagine the joy that my parents must have felt as I was growing up and their sense of familiarity as they saw themselves in me. I love my parents, and no matter how old I become, I still want to look familiar to them.  In addition, even after they pass on, I want to still be able to see their faces in mine.

Similarly, it is these God-given features of mine that I want to see when I gaze into my children’s faces in the future, and to enjoy the beautiful miracle of each child being a product of the love that my future husband and I will have for each other. So no, I will not resort to plastic surgery, because if I do, I know that I would have missed out on this most beautiful miracle that comes from embracing this face, this body that I’ve been blessed with for all time.

This guest post comes courtesy of Rachel Kan, a former intern with Focus on the Family Singapore and university undergraduate. All views expressed in this post are Rachel’s own.

A Date to Remember – Date with Dad 2012 (for inmates & their daughters)

Standing behind the girls, I held my breath as they stepped into the room where their dads – the inmates – were waiting. Would the dads be hostile? Would some girls refuse to talk to their dads? With these questions running through my mind, I peered cautiously into the room… and relaxed. I saw dads break into huge smiles, daughters hug their dads, tears being shed as they embraced each other. Which other event would bring tears right at the start? But this was IT – the first Date with Dad event held at the prisons had begun.

When the idea was birthed some months ago, I wasn’t sure if it was really going to happen. There were many more restrictions compared to the community event that took place on 11 February 2012. We were clueless about prison protocol and the logistics involved seemed daunting.

Yet now here we were. Ask me which the most memorable moment was for me, I would say the first ice-breaker. When the emcee announced that the daughters were going to help the dads tie a neck-tie, everyone let out an excited ‘Ooh!’ I remember laughing and tearing at the same time as I watched them play – laughing because I was so happy they were truly enjoying themselves, and tearing because my heart was warmed by their sincere enthusiasm.

As the event progressed, I witnessed many more tears. Tears as the dads and daughters shared from their hearts, using our little conversation starters to talk about topics they probably have never discussed before. Tears as they wrote letters to each other and shared them out loud on stage. Tears even from the staff and volunteers, who were so touched by all that they saw. And finally, tears as the father-daughter pairs hugged, and said their goodbyes.

There was one big difference between this and the community event. And no, I’m not talking about the venue. After the community event, the dads and their daughters went home together, some hand-in-hand. This time round, however, it made my heart ache to realize that the girls would be going home – alone.

The bus ride back to the visitor centre was a quiet one, as the girls stared out of the windows, deep in thought. Having talked to the girls before the event, I knew many were hurt and saddened by what their dads had done. Yet reflecting on all that had taken place that day, I felt that things were changing; it was as if restoration had begun.

I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving, trusting that this date would be a special memory in their hearts for a very long time to come.

This week’s guest writer is Ms Samantha Chin, Administrator (Research & Development), Focus on the Family Singapore. Sam was involved in the Date with Dad event held at the prisons last month.

Date with Dad

February 11, 2012 was Valentine’s Day weekend. This was also my daughter’s first-ever date and I was her special date at the Focus on the Family’s Date with Dad event. They host this annual high tea for teenage girls and their fathers.

I even got an info pack a week beforehand with an attached printable invite for my daughter. I printed it out in color and placed it on my daughter’s desk after I wrote her name on the invite. Later I saw this invite pasted on her wall.

My wife had told me that our daughter who is normally clad casually in jeans and T-shirt did not have a dress. So a month earlier my wife went shopping to buy a dress for her just for this special occasion. Two of her colleagues even volunteered to help shop with her.

On Saturday, Deborah looked really pretty in her new floral dress. My wife also helped me pick a nice shirt that would match her dress.

Our pre-booked taxi arrived but I forgot to open the car door for Deborah. Upon arriving at the Regent Hotel, I redeemed my lack of chivalry earlier and opened the door for my date!

Deborah and I walked to our table and I remembered to help her with the chair 🙂  We talked to the other 3 father-daughter pairs at our table and discovered that one dad had previously attended the same event with his older daughter. He was attending now with his younger daughter. I noticed that the participants and those who volunteered to serve at this event were all genuinely glad to be here.

This was indeed a high-quality event – the photo shoot for every father-daughter pair was very nicely done; a pair of teddy bears with a stalk of rose sat on our seats along with a goody bag; a table setting complete with Date with Dad colors and look; a professionally decorated stage and all the various meticulous details certainly set the stage and atmosphere for the program that followed.

Both the on-stage and off-stage games were fun and light-hearted. The quizzes were hilarious! The pack of questions helped us get into heart conversation. The letter writing to each other was helpful in bonding. The Father’s Pledge and the purity ring presentation were so special.

Thank you to Focus on the Family for this amazing afternoon. I am sure that the other 123 pairs of dads and daughters feel the same. For me, this day felt like a celebration of my relationship with Deborah. My daughter will definitely remember this date and the memories from this event are etched deeply in her heart. Just this morning, she showed me that stalk of rose from the event and my Date with Dad invite to her is still on her wall. What a daughter! What a date!

This week’s post is contributed by Ben KC Lee who was one of the Father-Daughter participants at FOTFS’ Date with Dad held on Feb 11, 2012.