Tag Archives: son

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.

Learning From My Parents: Daniel’s Perspective

My dad used to joke that we have two models in my immediate family: him and mom, because they are our role models. It’s true, though, because they truly are role models for Deborah (my twin sister) and I.

It is said that as a male, you will marry someone like your mother. And if you are female, you will marry someone like your father. As such, the role of parents in providing healthy role models for their children and its importance is obvious.The Lees

I remember that when they disagreed, they would quickly make up and apologize to each other. Longer, drawn-out arguments were a rarity, and the rarity of ‘serious’ arguments between Mom and Dad was seen when Deborah recently recounted that in Primary School, one of us said “please don’t get divorced!” after they fought.

Mom and Dad taught us to do the same (make up and apologize) when Deborah and I fought. They taught us different skills when it came to conflict management, and always tell me that my fights with Deborah are good ‘practice’ for when we get married.

One thing Dad taught us by example was the importance of family. I remember that when he travelled overseas, we would always plan a time to call each other via Skype. That would require deliberate planning as Singapore and the countries he visited were often in vastly different time zones. The intentionality of these scheduled calls was evident, and we saw that if we didn’t plan, there was virtually no way it was going to happen.

Putting it into place meant that the specified time was meant for family, and just because we were not in the same place (and time zone) did not mean that we were not going to talk to each other. Mom and Dad made it clear that family was a top priority; relating to one another was not a matter of convenience. Of course, Dad could have used the time to rewind or catch up on work, but the importance of family time, albeit virtual, was important.

Also related to travel, Mom demonstrated sacrifice for us. Often times Mom and Dad were supposed to travel together for work trips. However, considering that it would entail leaving their then-pre-adolescent (and eventually adolescent) children alone at home, Dad would often travel alone while Mom stayed home to hold down the fort.

Even though she could have entrusted us with someone else, she explicitly chose to stay on for our sake (and probably for hers as well, so she would not be so worried about us). Though it would obviously be refreshing to go to another country and not having to worry about childminding, Mom chose to give it up on many occasions.

Of course, doing it all the time would be unrealistic, and she did go with Dad a couple of times. People might say it is not always possible or preferred, but again, it is down to priorities: what you value you will show through your actions. What Mom and Dad have done over the years have certainly showed Deborah and I that they value our family.

When I have kids, I hope I will be a great role model for them; just as I learnt from my parents in order to pass those lessons on to my kids, I am sure they will pass it on to their kids. The impact of a parent goes beyond the immediate second generation.

Mom and Dad, thank you for being my inspirations, role models and parents. I Love you both!

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 Daniel and Abraham. For inspiration on effective ways to love your children, visit our website and/or download a free activity pack!

Daniel, our guest writer, is a second-year polytechnic student. His sister, Deborah, will be sharing her thoughts this Saturday on what’s she’s learnt from her parents. Be sure to keep a look out for it!

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: 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!

Which School?

I’m at that life stage when the no. 1 question asked of me as a parent is, “Where are you sending your son next year?”

Yep, my son is going to Primary One next year. And no, I haven’t decided where I’m sending him; I haven’t done any parent volunteerism in any school (and understand it’s too late to even try that now); I haven’t pulled any strings; I haven’t a clue when exactly primary school registration for next year starts; I don’t fully comprehend the complex system of the different phases of queuing and balloting for a place in a choice school, and so the recent news that the Ministry of Education will now give Singaporeans full priority over Permanent Residents in primary school registration hasn’t made a dent on me.

I can hear your gasp of utter disbelief and shock. Perhaps even disgust, “Such a terrible mother!”

“I’m sure you could use your position at Focus on the Family to get him into a good school.”

“Why don’t you offer to conduct family life talks and workshops for free for X-branded school? I’m sure they’ll let your son in then.”

“You should sign up to be a member of Y organization so you can get bumped up the queue.”

Well-intended words of comfort and advice.

The fact is, I don’t actually mind sending my child to the nearest neighbourhood school, if that is the only school with a vacancy for him. I’ve been trying to convince my husband that there could be hidden benefits in a school that isn’t over-crowded like the rest of Singapore, and where the teacher-student ratio could be smaller and allow my son more individualized attention. The irony is that I have attended “branded schools” all my student life and my husband the very opposite.

Okay, I’m sure you’re wondering why I don’t just enrol my son then in my alumni “branded” primary school. The reason is simple – it’s too far from home.

Let me qualify that I have given some thought to my child’s schooling:

  • Proximity of school to home. I do not wish for my son to spend 2 hours a day travelling to and from school, having either to wake up really early or come home really late. Those hours could be better spent doing fun stuff.
  • Proximity of school to workplace. I’d like to still have the opportunity to send and fetch my son to and from school as much as my flexi-work allows. I find those times invaluable in catching my son at a time when he would typically want to share about his day, before the distractions of life take over.
  • Environment in school. Like it or not, we adopt the culture of the place we’re at. Chances are, my child won’t lack stimulation or challenge. What I need to guard against is probably my child striving to achieve something that is always just beyond his reach or pegged to his self-worth. Environment is also shaped by who my child hangs out with and the parents of the kids he hangs out with, who inevitably impart their values through their child and to mine. Experience in my line of work has taught me that good parents aren’t found only in certain schools.
  • Nurturing teachers. It has long been debated whether good schools have better teachers, and if the teacher determines how well the students perform. My son’s first experience with formal learning was very much aided by his nurturing teachers, who are not of a “branded” kindergarten.
  • Match between the school and my child. I need to know how my child is wired. What pace of learning suits him best? What kind of environment would enable him to excel and fully develop as a holistic person? Which place would best shape his character and hone his natural talents?
  • Direct investment in my child. To be honest, I did consider becoming a parent volunteer. But with time being an already scarce commodity, it occurred to me that I’d rather spend my free time bonding with my son. Research after all indicates a link between a strong parent-child relationship and a child’s academic success!
  • School is about learning and not mere achieving. Learning character and values must take priority. I love Theodore Roosevelt’s quote: To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society. With the current spate of news highlighting brilliant scholars who’ve gone off the track, it seems that branded schools don’t have it all.
  • The bigger picture. I am reassured that primary school education is compulsory in Singapore. By that vein, my son has to be allowed into some school. More important than the school my son attends is the fact that I’m as involved in his life as I can be. And more important than the grades he produces is the person he becomes.

The primary school registration exercise is a great life lesson and test of us as parents. Like any other parent, we want the best for our child. But what defines “the best”? Is it the exposure to better and multiple opportunities that branded schools promise? Are “branded” families one-up on “neighborhood” families?

At the end of the day, I’ve come to realize that I have more control over my child’s schooling than I’d probably care to admit – in providing the kind of home environment that would far outweigh or complement the influence of whichever school he ends up in. That is not just encouraging, but empowering!

Much to think about Lin-sanity

Lin-sanity… yea, you know what I am talking about. Just a few weeks ago, our Facebook Newsfeed was dominated by news and videos of the latest NBA star, Jeremy Lin. “Does this guy get anymore awesome??!” This was my friend’s Facebook status after reading The Faith and Fate of Jeremy Lin on http://www.patheos.com. I can understand my friend’s exclamation. I mean a Harvard student, the underdog, near perfect stats yet humble, unassuming and persevering.

Once in a while, we need people like him to inspire us. It was revealed that Jeremy Lin’s parents played a pivotal role in shaping his character through the game of basketball. They were always more interested in his behavior on court than in his stats. If he played a good game (i.e. scored well) but lost his temper in the course of it, the topic of discussion his parents wanted to talk to him about after the game would be his behavior. No wonder Jeremy Lin is dazzling the crowd, not just with his skills but his humble attitude towards success and fame.

My son is 6 months old and I won’t lie, I simply adore him and I am guilty of spoiling him, almost. So it’s good that in view of the current of Lin-sanity, I remind myself of what truly matters in my child’s life.

1. Character
Does my son know the good, feel the good and do the good? We teach this at ‘No Apologies’, our character-based sexuality education for youth. It’s not enough for my child to know the right thing to do and feel in his heart that he ought to do something, he needs to translate it into action.

2. Confidence
Is my son secure in his identity? Jeremy Lin looks different from the rest on the court but yet he seems comfortable and confident. The security I’m talking about is not learned through any Toastmasters or Networking 101 courses, but established at a child’s tender age when he is loved unreservedly by his parents.

3. Compassion
What breaks my son’s heart? And I’m not talking about that first crush or rejection he is going to get from that girl. I’m talking about a passion, an injustice he sees in the society which stirs and moves him to action.

4. Calling
Finally, what is my son’s life going to count for? Once he grasps that, everyday for him will be joyous and purposeful. Isn’t that life at its best?

I know, my son is still a baby and I need to chill a little. But this is more for me than him. There is a wise saying, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” My husband and I have the responsibility to train and nurture this precious life given to us. And hopefully someday, he may just be that inspiration for others.

This week’s blog is written by Vicky Ho, Senior Communications Manager, at Focus on the Family Singapore.

Accident

 You might have seen the pictures on Facebook. The day after our anniversary, my husband was trying to be a hero and the model handyman of the house. While fixing the light bulb in our bathroom, he slipped off the step ladder and came crashing down, right through the ceiling. He suffered a deep and long gash on his forearm plus a couple of other nasty wounds, apart from the scraps and bruises all over his hands, arms and back. Miraculously, he didn’t need stitches.

I didn’t realize it, but my son had rushed to the bathroom behind me upon hearing the crash. He saw the extent of the damage in the bathroom and his father groaning and grimacing in pain, took his favourite teddy and headed off to the living room, calling out to us that he was going to pray for Daddy.

He sounded shaken, so I called him to come to where I was attending to my husband’s wounds. When he came, he started crying. Later he was able to articulate that he felt fearful because he saw the extent of damage to our bathroom – it must have left him with a sense of the gravity of the situation.

Over the following week, he would comfort my husband by patting him on the back or giving him a back massage (his interpretation of it), while saying, “It’s okay, Dad. Be brave.” Each day when he woke up and when he saw Dad again at the end of the day, he’d ask, “Are you okay, Dad?” or “Are you well?” or “Is it better?”

When the contractor came to reinstate our ceiling, he told my husband, “Don’t do it again, Dad.”

I was reminded about compassion from my son. I am as terrified and irked by the sight of blood as my husband, but all things considered, I think I handled the situation amazingly well. With my son terrified at my husband’s predicament and my husband terrified by his injuries, it left me the only one to preserve some calm and order in that moment, and bring comfort and reassurance to the family.

By the way, it cost us $600 to change the light bulb.