Tag Archives: teenagers

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.

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: Communicating with daughters and teenagers

Andy is an IT professional by training and a dad of 4 daughters. Yes, you read that right – Andy and his wife have raised four strong, beautiful & gracious girls. He has much to share from personal experience, so let’s get things rolling!

Hi Andy! Could you introduce yourself and your family to our readers please?

I’m an ordinary guy who is greatly blessed with a loving wife, Cheryl. We have 4 wonderful daughters: Danielle (23), Davelle (22), Dominique (18) and Darienne (16).

As a family, we enjoy doing things together such as preparing meals, eating together, and going on family staycations and vacations. There’s nothing better than being with family!

Andy's 4 daughtersAs a dad, what’s it like bringing up 4 daughters?

To be honest, I actually find it easy. Girls are generally more sensitive, so I find that my daughters are aware of my needs and are expressive in caring for me and the family. They care for and help each other out as well, so that also makes it easier.

On the flipside, because I have 4 daughters, I end up driving them around a lot more – probably a lot more than I would if I have sons. I think it’s because I’m protective to some extent; when they go out late at night with friends I volunteer to drive them home.

This is where communication plays a major role. I share my heart with them, and let them know that the reason why I don’t want them to be home late is because I’m concerned about their safety.

Many dads have shared with us that communicating with their teenage daughters is a challenge. Do you have any advice based on your own experiences?

Communication is important at all stages, but it is extremely vital when they are teenagers. My suggestion: Take time to observe and communicate with your daughter. Let’s break it down further.

• Take time to observe:
Dads, this means that you really have to spend quality time with them (regardless of their love language). Be there for them and watch them grow up. Observe their moods and genuinely care for them.

• Communicating with your daughter:
If you observe that something is going wrong, show her that you are there for her by listening to her.

I cannot emphasise how important it is to let her share and talk…! I have learnt that it is not so much about teaching and sharing, but rather, letting them express themselves. In the course of conversation you can share your own experiences and how you dealt with things. As she reaches a conclusion as to what to do, that’s when you have to love and support her.

Is there any particular way that you convey your love and support for your daughter?

When they are in Secondary School, I make it a point to attend Date with Dad with them. I also make it a point to bring them out for a special one-on-one dinner on their 18th birthday. It’s almost like a rite of passage for each daughter!

My wife and I believe that it’s important to commemorate this milestone, so I’ll bring them out for a nice celebration, treating them like the grown-up lady that they have become.

That being said, I believe it’s an ongoing process. Cheryl and I learnt about the 5 Love Languages before the children were born, and we used that to identify how they receive love best so that we can effectively convey it to them.

Oh! Since you knew about it from the beginning, have your daughters’ love language evolved with time?

No, it hasn’t, even though their responses to how we give love may vary.

For example, if D likes quality time, but because of the mood or circumstances (e.g. busy and stressed out by schoolwork), how she reacts to me wanting to spend time with her may come back with a less than positive response.

As parents we tend to think that if they don’t respond, it means that they don’t like it. From my observation with my daughters, certain responses are situational. So the next time when you display that particular love language, they may react differently.

Sounds applicable to teenagers as a whole, not just daughters…

I believe wholeheartedly in doing the following three steps over and again in showing love:

Observing ⇒ Communicating ⇒ Supporting

When we observe their behaviour over a longer period of time, we then can understand what makes them feel most loved, and then adjust accordingly. And as always, communication is vital, no matter how old your child is.

Do you have any last words for parents of teens when it comes to communicating love?

I would encourage parents to love your child just as he/she is. It is a great way to convey that you love them. This is especially important if you have more than 1 child.

This applies to all parents, not just parents with teens. Recognize that every child is special and unique. Appreciate, enjoy and celebrate his/her differences!

Have any personal experiences to share about loving teenagers? Share them in the comments below!-

Editor’s note: Date with Dad is our signature event that will be happening in February. Registration is now open! Find out more about this exclusive father-daughter event here. You can also download the Dad’s Guide as a resource to help you strengthen your relationship with your daughter!

This post is part of Loving our Children series that we’re running this October in conjunction with Children’s Day. 

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.

Can I Have My Hand Back?

I am a Dad to a girl and a boy – a pair of teenage twins actually, who will turn 15 soon. With Fathers Day coming up, it’s appropriate to share a reflection on being a Dad.

The context of this Dad story began three years ago. That was when my wife and I began what was to be a permanent relocation exercise which started the biggest transition ever in our lives. Coincidentally perhaps, my wife and I were approaching mid-life and our twins were approaching adolescence.

About the same time a major crisis struck the (broader) organization where my wife and I worked. This sparked off a chain of events that snowballed as the situation deteriorated rapidly, causing delay upon delay to our relocation timeline. My wife and I were roped in to help in damage control while uncertainty got added to the future plans of a family already in a major tailspin.

We were caught up in a whirlpool on no-man’s land as we grappled with life transitions and two career switches. Our family felt lost and each one of us also felt the full impact of the resulting emotional tsunami that descended upon us.

The strains on our relationships showed – I took turns to bicker either with my son, my daughter or my wife. Yes, another transition that I struggled with was the switch from parenting two kids to parenting two teenagers. My wife had been intentionally preparing for this change and she is fine in this department.

I saw the many ways a crisis can play out. It destabilises and even destroys. I have also seen how it can draw a family closer. Our family went through many tense moments. But we also had more heart-to-heart talks. We have actually grown closer.

Three years have now passed and I have changed. This protracted transition was actually an opportunity for me to grow as a Dad.

Today, I am even more convinced that there are Dads for a reason. We have very distinct responsibilities. We help the family walk through difficult times.

Throughout this season, my greatest desire as a Dad is to have a loving father’s heart towards my kids – despite lapses in my expectations of them or good advice that often goes unheeded.

I’ve also discovered that I’ve got a big responsibility as a life-guide to my kids. It is most rewarding when they can grow up valuing relationships, being responsible and communicating honestly.  Fatherhood and paternal involvement are integral to healthy children and a thriving society.

Dads make mistakes and I mess up, too often myself. I struggle to be a great Dad but I am doing the best I can because I love my kids! No matter how much pressure I feel, I want to be there for our twins.

One dad memory that I shall always take with me was my son telling me that we should not hug in public any more. That was hard.

Another happened when I was walking our twins to school. My daughter let go of my hand as we approached the school gate. At the point of release, I fell into a state of disbelief. Fatherly grief followed suit.

A third memory was when my daughter said: “Dad, can I have my hand back?” To which I asked: “But I’ve been holding your hand for over 10 years … and you want it back?”

It seems like Father’s Day is more of a day of practical gift giving. But it doesn’t always have to be this way. This Father’s Day, I will be spending time with my Dad and I will tell him that he did a good job. You can too.

Happy Father’s Day!

Ben KC Lee

My Shoe Story

I’ve always been a believer that good, comfortable shoes are essential; with the exception of high-heeled shoes, of course. But shoes took on a different meaning for me recently. It’s actually my son’s pair of shoes – it evokes a sense of gladness and gratefulness within me.

Here’s the story – it all started in his 3-day/2-night school camp that he attended. Every student had to bring two pairs of shoes; a black pair of waterproof shoes and another pair for the usual rugged camp use.

This pair for general camp use is also the same pair of shoes that he wears to school daily. At one of the hiking activities during the camp, his left shoe got caught in some thick mud that the front part started gaping.

When my son returned home after camp, he recounted what had happened to his shoes.  In the same breath, he asked for superglue to seal the gap so that he could continue wearing them to school.

It struck me that this is not necessarily a typical request of a 15-year-old with shoes in this condition. In our highly “disposal” age and living in Singapore, it’s more likely for a teenager to ask for a new pair of shoes.  Would I even wear a pair of shoes in this state myself?

It also dawned on me that I may well be reaping what my husband and I have sown in our children very early on in their lives. Amongst the many “seeds” sown over the years, perhaps this one is bearing fruit in this instance – your sense of worth is not dictated by stuff,  as in what you may have or wear; regardless of the common messages communicated.

The camp was in January and three months later, my son is still wearing this pair of shoes (with a gaping front) to school.  Superglue never quite came to the rescue. My son knows that he will readily have a new pair of shoes when he decides that he can’t walk in this pair anymore.

I have personally found my (son’s) shoe story heartening. I am humbled. I am blessed as a parent.  I have stories about my son’s twin sister too. That’ll be another time.