Tag Archives: Parenting

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?

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It takes a super-granny

They say it takes a village.

I say it takes a super-granny. And my mum is the quintessential super-granny.

The kids love her to bits, and she loves them too. She can easily handle all three of them at home, and even when they’re running amok at the playground.

She is super calm and zen, and she hardly raises her voice at the kids.

She pampers them, as all grandparents do. (Within limits of course, as she also tries to follow my dietary preferences and regulations.)

The hubby and I recently made off to Phuket on our second honeymoon. It was four days of bliss and we were thankful for the time we had to reconnect with each other. Guess who took care of the kids – super-granny.

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Speaking Words of Affirmation to your Teen

When you say something encouraging to your teen (or tween even, for that matter), does it feel like water off a duck’s back? Despair not, for your words matter. In fact, one of the 5 Love Languages is Words of Affirmation. Remember that your words have a lasting impact on your children. Here are 3 areas that we can focus on when speaking words of affirmation to our children:

+ Character
When your child demonstrates positive traits such as honesty, generosity and kindness, highlight their actions and praise their character. Such compliments will encourage them and spur them on to continue doing good.

+ Contributions, big or small
Simple things, such as the older sibling helping to pack up the younger one’s toys, may not seem important. However, by acknowledging and appreciating their efforts, it reinforces the message that what they do matters.

+ Courage
In a world that seems so big, trying and doing new things can be daunting. Applaud their courage for trying new things, and cheer them on as they do so. Having Dad and Mum’s support is reassuring, and means more to them than you would know.

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.

5 Things I Wished I Learnt from the Baby Manual

One can only read that many books, talk to that many people or attend that many classes to prepare for that very special day, where your first child graduates from kicking around in the Mother’s womb out in to the whole new world.

jean and joy

Photo credit: Jason W.

Well perhaps I could do with reading more books and talking to more people, but alas when the time came, there was no looking back. I guess 9 months is a long time to anticipate something, a substantial amount of time for preparation and reflection.

I remember vividly the first cry I heard when my daughter was born and then reality really hit. I remember my wife coaxing me to carry her during the first few moments and in my head I was going, “I’m so going to crush her… her head may flop over wrongly… she looks slippery…argh! Where’s the manual?!”

But of course on the outside I had to put on a brave front, even more so right after witnessing what my wife went through in delivering my baby. So there I was, holding my daughter for the first time, looking at her, and for the first time I really understood what unconditional love meant. I had no idea I can love someone whom I just met so much! It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. Of course that awesome moment was suddenly rudely disrupted when my daughter belted out her version of “Let [Me] Go… let me go, don’t hold me up anymore…” right next to my ear.

Well, that pretty much summed up the start of this journey of parenthood for me. Great moments of love and responsibility and then a cruel dose of irritation and sacrifice, somewhat similar to the emotions of the contestant on those cooking shows where the judges praise you and then tell your best is not good enough and then tells you that fortunately there is someone else in the room who is worse.

I have now survived 9 months of fatherhood and looking back, if there was to be a manual for fathers, these would be the 5 things I personally wished I had read.

1. It is normal to be worried

I remember jumping out of bed just to check to see if my baby had flipped over and suffocated or if the swaddling cloth had covered her face during the first week she came home to us. On checking with other couples, this phenomenon is actually quite usual.

2. Poop is character building

It seems that babies have an innate ability to sense when it would be the perfect time to pee or poop. The times where we become collateral damage during diaper change has happened so often, it cannot be by chance. This character building levels up when your baby starts to flip, climb and crawl. The test is to remain calm and still talk nicely to your child.

3. Every child is different

I was quite confused upon hearing different advice and reading different articles with respect to being a first-time dad. I even tried to reason against reading all these books, especially when the author had a disclaimer in the beginning saying, “every baby is different”. But after all the OJT (on job training), I must say that having the different information helps in some way. At least sometimes it presented some form of hope when the baby acts up or behaves outside the “textbook”. We had options to try out at different situations and in the end choose which suits our baby best… or rather best suits us all.

4. Parenting is not a zero sum game

Growing up in a family with 2 other siblings, it was often a game of “I did the dishes last time round, who’s next?” I had foolishly tried to bring that game into the parenting sphere. The first time I mentioned that it was my wife’s turn to change her diaper because I last did it… and then I was kindly reminded of all the other things I did not do. Well now I just volunteer to change the diapers. It really is a job for 2, and some may say it takes a village but what I have learnt is this: raising a child is a team game and good teamwork will benefit everyone.

5. Appreciate your wife

This is a sobering reflection when I see how my wife suddenly becomes the baby whisperer. She can differentiate the cries of the baby while I sit there still wondering what went wrong. Before leaving the house, she would have made a list of what needs to be done. For example, while she’s putting on her make-up and I’m just sitting there wondering when she will be done, she tells me that the diaper bag needs a top up of diapers and rash cream. The baby needs lunch and possibly dinner so you need two sets of bibs and cereal. Her water was from yesterday and needs changing. Her toys are still dirty and needs a wash.

And there I was, clueless about what to prepare before leaving the house.

These 9 months have taught me how to think beyond myself – even when it’s something as simple as leaving the house for a meal. I have a newfound respect and appreciation for my wife and I would do well never to forget this.

So there, the 5 things I wished I had learnt if a manual came along with my daughter. I’m sure others would have many more to add and this list is not all there is to it, but I guess that is what makes this parenting journey such an adventure.

This guest post comes courtesy of Jason, a happily married father of one. His baby, Little J, was born in March, and life has never been the same since then.

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.

3 Suggestions for Mother and Daughter Time Together

For children, love is spelt t.i.m.e.

And for kids whose love language is quality time, they definitely appreciate it when their parents set aside time for some parent and child bonding. For the kids, the activity itself is not as important as the time spent together. But if you’re stuck for ideas, here are some suggestions of what you can do to enjoy mother and daughter bonding:

Cooking or baking
Weekends give us the opportunity to whip up something in the kitchen together. For those with little budding chefs or bakers, get them involved in the food preparation or even cooking process. Not only will they (or their future spouse) thank you for imparting to them a life skill in future, the time in the kitchen can also be little lessons when it comes to learning measurements, food nutrition, etc.

And if you are wary about the kids hurting themselves, they can be given simple tasks. Sophie likes to help me stir the pancake mix, and even attempts to fry them on the stove while I stand next to her. Other times, she’s asked to help me set the table. After all, helping with these little tasks makes the kids more appreciative of the work that goes behind each meal that is served to them on the table as well.

Art and crafts
When it comes to art and craft ideas, Pinterest and the Internet are my best friend. There are so Crafts by A Juggling Mommany activities and ideas that are suited for all ages and interests. The only problem is finding the time to make or do them…!

Some of these crafts can be games, like what we did with these paper clips fishing game or even finger puppets.

Besides giving kids an outlet for their creative expression, art and craft can all be an excellent form of learning experience as you find fun and creative ways to teach new concepts or lessons.

Some recommended art and crafts sites that I’ve bookmarked are Artful ParentActivity Mom and Childhood 101.

Get outdoors
We didn’t think twice Play by A Juggling Momwhen Sophie requested to pick up roller blading or swimming. After all, it’s important to get the kids moving and anything beats sitting in front of the TV or playing on the iPad. Most kids don’t get enough outdoor play and it will do them good to see more greenery and get a healthy dose of vitamin D.

Going outdoors can be as simple as going to the nearby park for a walk, letting them ride their bicycles, or heading to the neighbourhood playground for a swinging good time.

There’s probably a lot more that mothers can do together with their daughters (and sons). My suggestion: make it a point to find out what your child enjoys, and make an effort to bond over their favourite activity.

Have any suggestions on activities mothers can do with their daughters? Share them in the comments below!

This guest post comes courtesy of Susan, a mum, wife, career woman and home maker all rolled into one. She blogs about her parenting journey and shares her travel adventures at A Juggling Mom, and tries to keep sane with a healthy and positive outlook in life.