Tag Archives: parenting styles

Our Journey towards Becoming a Family of 5

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




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.


5 practical ways to being a Back-bone Parent (part 2)

Give of Your Time

Well, from my sharing last week, you may be led to believe that my parents were more the sergeant major type. To some extent they were as they needed to “pull rank” on us sometimes for our own good. However, the reason why we did not rebel against them was because they have found ways to express their love for us. The best outward expression was to give of their time.

Both my parents would ensure that they have enough time with each of my three siblings and I, to find out what we are going through and to tell us that they love us. My mother made the big sacrifice of giving up her job once my eldest sister was born. Until now, my father still has a one-on-one date with us on each of our birthdays. He also makes sure he can pick us from school during his off-day. They both acknowledge their individual responsibility to invest their time in our relationship.

Communicate With Your Spouse

Having said that, with the schedules that people have these days, it takes concerted effort to have even an hour a day to spend with your child. That’s where the importance of communication comes in. As mentioned, my mom is a full-time home-maker and so she is able to spend a lot more time with us. There are times when my father only comes home after we are all asleep. On those nights, my mother updates him about us and keeps him in the loop on household matters. Communication is important even in families with two working parents. This is due to the difference in ways that a child interacts with his mother and with his father. Each parent is likely to have a unique understanding of what the child is going through and so it is important for both parents to share what they perceive and know with each other.

Don’t Compare

The last practical step that I would like to share is to not compare. Comparing is something which happens quite naturally in our minds. We must be careful, though, not to let the thoughts slip out into our words or our actions. I have a cousin who is of the same age as I am, but a lot smarter. Not once have my parents asked why my grades do not match hers. My sisters are both a lot more organized than I am and my parents have punished me on numerous occasions for not taking care of my belongings, but they do not tell me to be more like my sisters. You see, the children do the comparing themselves, but if they sense that their parents are comparing them to one another, it could call into question the love that the parents have for them – is their love dependent on how much the child lives up to their expectations? Freedom and even trust can be conditional, but unless the love a parent gives is without condition, it is of no value to the child.

By not sparing the rod and by not ceding to our crying when we were younger, my parents were able to stamp their authority. By giving of their time and communicating with each other, they are able to better understand and support us. Finally, in not comparing me with my siblings, my parents assure me of their unconditional love which enables me to trust and obey their decisions, even the tough ones.

Abraham is an Economics student at the Singapore Management University.

5 practical ways to being a Back-bone Parent (part 1)

When looking at the four different Parenting Styles (Sergeant Major, Jellyfish, Neglectful and Back-bone), it is easy to identify that the Back-bone parent is the ideal. Indeed, most parents endeavor to have the strength and flexibility to support their child and bring the best out of them. However, it is hard to strike the right balance. My parents are not perfect, but they have in general set me on the right track to take off and embrace life. Allow me then to share five practical ways I feel my parents have established authority while giving room for autonomy.

Do Not Spare the Rod

I use this phrase in the loosest sense for my parents refused to use a cane or even a ruler to punish us when my siblings and I were young. What we did get were slaps on the hands and pulls of the ear. I know some parents hesitate to use physical punishment and instead rely mainly on verbal punishment, removal of privileges and reasoning. If that way of punishment gets through to the child to prevent misbehavior or even gets him/her to think twice before repeating the action then that’s great.

I personally think that at younger ages when the capability to reason is not fully developed and children do not understand much of what you say, controlled physical punishment can be a good deterrent.  Evidently, the rod should be put away as a child gets older. Getting a teenager to understand why he/she is being punished is far more important that the form of punishment itself. A young adult would be better off identifying his/her own mistakes and could rely more on parents as a listening ear and source of advice.

Let Them Cry It Out

My usual response to receiving the ‘rod’ when I was little was to cry or throw a tantrum and my mother would actually tell me to carry on. She would say, “the more you cry the better your singing will become.” There may be a morsel of truth to it as the girls in my house do sing a lot better than the guys! A child’s first reaction to being punished or not getting what he/she wants is to cry. I have seen many parents respond by doing anything and everything possible to appease the child. Once I even witnessed a parent scold his son, and then proceed to apologise to him when he started crying! The message this sends to the child is that, “crying gets whatever I want.” Realizing that my mother’s response was sarcastic and that crying would just lead to further trouble, I either accepted her decision or found an alternative way to get what I wanted.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Abraham’s story in the next couple of days. Abraham is an Economics student at the Singapore Management University.

Are you a Sergeant Major, Jellyfish, Neglectful or Back-bone parent?

“Didn’t I tell you to clean up your room a week ago?”; “What do you mean why you need to come home by 9pm? Because I said so!” Have you heard these words yelled out by parents at their children? You might think you’ve just listened to a Sergeant Major in the Army talking to his team of recruits! Well, you’re half right!

The Parenting with Confidence program at Focus on the Family Singapore touches on four different parenting types and Sergeant Major is one of them. This style of parenting tends to be overly protective, controlling, tells the children what to do and think. The Sergeant Major parent feels a strong need to rein in their children. It is, therefore, often accompanied by a lot of scolding, criticizing and threatening. Children of a Sergeant Major parent tend to comply out of fear instead of respect. Over time, it can back-fire where the child summons enough courage to rebel against the authoritarian parent.

The opposite of this would be the Jellyfish parent. Think jellyfish and what comes to mind? Yes, soft and squashy! I googled “jellyfish” and was drawn to one particular description of this creature – that it has no brain or central nervous system! Hmmm, I guess that says quite a lot about the parenting style, don’t you think? I personally know of a Jellyfish parent. She lacks rules, ignores misbehavior, bails her child out of trouble (by the latter’s own doing), gives in to her child’s demands. Basically the roles are reversed! What do you think will be the outcome of such a parenting style?

Then, we have the Neglectful parent. The parent basically sends out a message that says, “I’m too busy!” Quantity time, let alone quality time, is close to zilch. However, the parent with this style of parenting does feel guilty for not being “there” and hence could compensate his absence by lavishing material gifts on the children. This is a problem especially common in our society where both parents work (long hours) and have little or no time for their children. Children of neglectful parents tend to feel they need to fend for themselves, so a deep sense of being “abandoned” could set in.

Finally, the parent type most aspire to be – the Back-bone parent. It is strong (it holds the body together) yet flexible when it is required to bend to adapt to changing postures or conditions. This style is confident, consistent and calm even in the face of challenges. It is also not unduly protective but respects needs and honors feelings. I have a good example of a Back-bone parent in my household – my husband. He believes in disciplining the kids when the need arises but he also subscribes to the rule that one must not punish in anger. He shows affection to the children freely, sees mistakes as opportunities to grow, asks questions to promote thinking and lives by the principle of “not sweating over the small stuff”. Thank God for him.

Parenting is a challenging but rewarding journey in life. We don’t always get it right and often learn “on the job”. But it is good to occasionally ask ourselves, “What kind of a parent am I? What kind of parent would I like to be?”

In August, Focus on the Family Singapore is training individuals who are passionate about parenting to be facilitators for our Parenting with Confidence program. Visit www.family.org.sg for more information.