Tag Archives: siblings

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.

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Learning From My Parents: Deborah’s perspective

When I think of Mum, I think of kindness. I think of the chocolates she buys back from the numerous trips she and Dad made to overseas; half of what she buys is typically gifts for other people. Back home, whenever she finds seasonal rarely-found fruits like peaches or cherries, she always brings some to share with her siblings and her mother. The fruit-lover in me protests… Obviously I have some work to do in the generosity department.

Mum is really healthy and disciplined. In fact, Mum is the one who started our family on jogging, and can run faster than I. She remembers (and laughs at) the one time I stomped my way to the end of the track because I was tired. The point of jogging is to jog – not sure how much clearer I can get about that – and my loud steps must have given it away, but I’m thankful that Mum continued to be loving and patient with me.Lees [1]

Mum never complains about making Dad a honey drink whenever he eats too much sambal belachan. She never gets tired of buying a meal back for him, and I have also never heard her complain about Dad or say something bad about him. Think about that! A woman who doesn’t gossip? I think my Dad picked a great woman. I hope I get more than just her genes.

In consolation, I have been told that I am like my mother. Mum has even said that some things I do mirror her. Not her style, but her. Really.

I get really pleased when I hear that! While I am still some ways from that, I think I’m going to be a great woman. Talk about confidence…! Seriously though, I get my outgoing-ness more from someone else. Speaking of confidence, enter Dad.

Dad, to me, is the epitome of selflessness, the opposite of self-centeredness. I think of the times when Dad would do the laundry all by himself when Daniel (my twin brother) and I were studying for the ‘O’ Levels. I think of how he drives our family around 99% of the time. I think about how he circles the parking lot again and again waiting for a parking lot while Mum, my brother and I head to the restaurant and sit comfortably.

Back to confident Dad. He is really outgoing. Two years ago our family went to my mother’s invite-your-family-to-dinner company dinner. It was held in a Japanese restaurant, and each family was separated by the tall seat back rests. Most families were busy enjoying the food and talking among themselves. Dad looked over our back rest and started talking to the family sitting behind us. It’s hard to describe, but if you think about it, it’s something rather unusual for a Singaporean to do.

family pic in sepAnother incident that would prove my point would be the fact that he – together with another neighbor – organized a barbecue for the neighbors living on our floor. How often do neighbors get together to know each other a little better? Rarely. I liked that barbecue, and am thankful for Dad’s communal ways.

I also like that my Dad is honest with me. He thinks I could lose 1% of my body weight and says it as such. It’s not a toned-down version of “Deb, I think you’re fat”; he just thinks I could trim down the love-handles by a bit. Yes, I feel the “Ouch but I’m happy to hear him speak honestly. Dad is funny too.

He doesn’t eat almonds so when he eats a bag of mixed nuts he asks my brother and I to finish the remaining nuts… all of which happen to be almonds. He is also known in the office to be a joker, someone who lifts the atmosphere and makes everyone feel a little more cheery.

I’ve heard people say of how much they wish their parents – Dads in particular – would hug or kiss them. Me, I think I get a little too much. I’m out of secondary school and Dad still likes holding my hand. He likes telling people that they can find parts of his heart outside the my former secondary school, the consequence of my letting go of his hand one day as the both of us were approaching the school. I feel bad whenever I hear that.

However, the feeling doesn’t last long when I think I’ve experienced hug-overkill: my older cousin remembers my brother and I bargaining with Dad in her house when we were in primary school. Us kids went “Dad, five hugs a day maximum!” But as I say from time to time, I appreciate Dad’s gestures of love and affection.

I am grateful and proud of my selfless, loving, affectionate and community-minded Dad. My future husband is going to be a great man (refer to my brother’s post), and I can’t wait. (Wait… Dad are you reading this? Uh, your princess can wait. Anyhow, I love you Dad.)

daniel and deborah with chipsWhat do my parents model together? My genius brother wrote a post, and you can tell our styles are pretty different. That’s because we are pretty different. But we make an amazing duo, and I believe our reflections paint a more complete picture of our parents.

I hope you enjoyed reading our different perspectives on what our parents model, and what we learn from them.

Editor’s note: This post is written in conjunction with our Loving our Children series. We thought it’d be great to hear the impact parents have on their kids from young adults like Deborah and Abraham. For inspiration on effective ways to love your children, visit our website and/or download a free activity pack!

Deborah, our guest writer, is a second-year polytechnic student. Her brother, Daniel, shared his thoughts in an earlier post on how their parents have been his role models and inspiration.

The Harmony Project

With the excessive amount of sibling bickering my husband and I have seen at home lately, I decided to embark on a much-needed lesson about harmony for our 7-year old and 4-year old.

Taking inspiration from one of my favorite sites, kidsofintegrity.com, I kicked off our lesson with a craft project that the children had to complete together with minimal assistance.

Using mostly recycled materials and armed with a single set of tools, the children were ‘forced’ to work together to create a guitar and some shakers which they could then use to play in their own harmony band.

Craft Supplies for Harmony Project

Here’s a list of the craft tools and general materials we used:

  • An empty tissue box
  • 4-6 Rubber bands
  • 2 used toilet rolls
  • 4 balloons
  • Corn kernels (or green/red beans, rice)
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Colored Paper

To make the guitar, my 7-year old began by cutting out a rectangle out from the top of the tissue box.

Harmony Project - Cutting out the tissue box

My 7-year old dutifully cutting along the outline I marked out.

I gave the kids free room to decorate their guitar with one instruction: do it together. And they happily obeyed, working together to decorate their guitar.

The two kids hard at work!

The two kids hard at work.

To complete making the guitar, the kids strapped the rubber bands around the box and over the hole on the top.

Proud smiles all around for having successfully created their very own guitar!

Proud smiles all around for having successfully created their very own guitar!

That done, the kids got started on creating their shakers. Each took responsibility for decorating one roll.

Hard at work decorating their very own shakers!

Hard at work decorating their very own shakers!

Once done, we cut the top part of the balloon off, and covered one end of the toilet roll with it. A rubber band was looped at the bottom to ensure the ‘fillings’ of the shaker wouldn’t spill out!

Attach the top part of the balloon to the shaker.

Attach the top part of the balloon to the shaker.

My 4-year old helped to fill a quarter of the roll with corn kernels, while his elder sister helped to cover the other end of the toilet roll with another balloon top. If you don’t have corn kernels at home, substitute it with anything you think would make a good sound – like rice or green beans.

Filling up the shaker with corn kernels.

Filling up the shaker with corn kernels.

With the focus on completing a craft together, the children were able to spend at least an hour without petty bickering. It was such a delight to see them have fun creating something together in harmony.

Before they went off to use their new, handmade musical instruments, we had a short discussion on the experience of working together. By having to share tools and making a concerted effort to agree on how to embellish their craft pieces, the children learnt the importance of cooperation. They also practiced patience and using encouraging words with one another. Most importantly, they had fun!

The two maestros showing off their new shakers.

The two maestros showing off their new shakers.

It was a great time of bonding and building up the relationship between siblings, and a handy lesson I intend to use regularly from now on!

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.

Being Siblings = 101 Ways To Be Insecure

“Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Does this phrase sound familiar? I believe most of us can relate to it. Even if you’ve never vocalized it, I believe we have all struggled to deal with the sense of insecurity. Well, my situation seems to spell out the perfect recipe for a title like “101 ways to be insecure”.

My sister and I bear great resemblance in physical appearance (or at least in the eyes of others). My habits, behavior and even preferences for fashion and food are similar to hers. Not to mention, my church mates would perpetually “mistake” me for my sister and call me Ruth in amusement. To top it off, I would be more often first introduced as “This is Ruth’s younger sister”. “Hmmm…” Indeed.

So how did I fare against this?

Surprisingly, I have to declare that I dealt with it pretty well. In fact, the feeling of inferiority when compared to my sister has never been a major issue to me. I have no qualms about being first introduced as “Ruth’s younger sister” because it is a fact that I fully acknowledge.

While each individual’s response differs, I believe that a great part of the answer for me lies with my upbringing – my family.

Up till now, I have yet to recall a memory in which my parents have pulled the compare tactic in disciplining me. Perhaps they made a conscious effort not to, or it just wasn’t the right setting due to our age difference of eleven years. Either way, my parents groomed me as an individual through discipline, love and encouragement. This is definitely not to boast of my background, but I believe my security is a strong testimony of how a child’s life could be affected by the parents’ method of disciplining.

But, this is not to say that I have never struggled. Admittedly, there are many times that I have bought into the lie that I could never be good enough, or even measure up to my sister.

My sister was the older “jiejie” that we kids admired greatly – pretty, many “gorgors” chasing her, social butterfly, sporty with a bright deposition, compassionate and kind. Much of this was compared to my more angst-y teenage years – struggling in identity, finding friends, and looking very “toot” with my middle parting and pimple-infested skin. Yet, even at that juncture, my heart had rarely allowed jealously to seep into my heart. Why? Because my sister had always remained very real and transparent as a person. As perfect as she seemed, she had flaws, which caused her to stumble and make irrevocable mistakes that she was open to share with others. Thus, I didn’t have a warped perspective of her being a perfect being, because she was as human as I.

So in the many times I am compared to my sister in my daily life, I don’t feel inferior. Isn’t it only natural that we have many similarities, seeing that we are sisters? I am proud to say that my sister inspires me. Perhaps the way I resemble her in my actions, habits and styles are all unconscious influences from her, but then again, it could well be genetics.

However, that does not mean that I have lost my individualism, for I know I was created to be beautiful and unique in a different way. My sister could never be exactly like me, nor I like her.

This guest post comes courtesy of Rachel Kan, a former intern with Focus on the Family Singapore and university undergraduate.

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.