Families are an important pillar in the fabric of Singapore and Families for Life have a yearly family congress to celebrate Parenting. The 2016 Singapore Parenting Congress was held at Suntec City, and this year’s topic is, “Äre you a Superhero to your child?” Our Blog Ed Unloaded, was invited to be on the Panel, to discuss issues like building resilience in our children, and to highlight the important role of grandparents and the extended family in a child’s development.
As an invited panellist, I had the honor to meet and be on the same panel as Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who is the Minister for Manpower and the Minister for Social and Family development. The distinguished panel also included celebrity Mum Diana Ser, TV Personality, Steven Chia, Families for life Council Member, Jeff Cheong, family life educator, Mrs Esther Lai, and Dr. Khoo Kim Choo, a consultant for Children and Families.
Sitting on the panel, I was excited and encouraged to see many parents taking an active role in the upbringing of their children, and interested to find out how they can better parents. There are many other things that we can do on a weekend, but these parents made an active decision to purchase tickets and attend the Singapore Parenting Congress. Personally, I think we are all discovering and finding out how we can better parents, and It was a definite privilege to share some of the insights that I had as a parent.
Here are some of my thoughts after the panel disussion at the Singapore Parenting Congress.
Superhero to your Child
One of the many questions that we tackled on the panel, is “Are we a Superhero to your child!” As my kids are in Primary school, I firmly believe that I am living this Superhero dream. When our young children look at us they see role models who are flawless, and heroes which they want to become. Our invincibility only loses its lustre, when the kids become teenagers, resulting in the emergence of Peer pressure onto their lives.
As role models and superheroes, we all have the ability to impact our children. Therefore, parents need to maximise this special window presented to us, and really spend quality time with the kids.
Both my wife and I have full-time jobs, and although we cannot be with our kids 24-7, we actively adjust our schedules as a team, to ensure that we spend quality time with the kids. My job does require me to work nights, and when I am away, my wife is the one who comes back early to spend time with the kids. Not content to take a back seat, I also adjust my schedule to ensure that I give weekly time to the kids, and I try to give them my Saturdays. Although we are a work in progress, I am sure that I will see the fruits of the labour in my later years.
Role of GrandParents
Grandparents can play an important role in the development of our children. They can be that extra pair of hands and eyes, and the well-spring of knowledge, which enriches every family unit.
In my family, Grandparents play an important role, as the kids are in the care of their grandparents from Monday to Friday. Together with the assistance of a reliable domestic helper, they are able to ensure the safety and holistic development of our kids.
Although we both have different parenting styles, grandparents bring a different level of confidence, and assurance in the development of our kids. With both Daddy and Mummy holding on to a permanent job, they have been an invaluable source of help, which the family relies on. Grandparenting should be encouraged and celebrated, as they bring that extra fabric of character, to every family unit.
Technology and Parenting
We can’t escape the role of technology in every family. As adults, we can’t leave home without our Smartphone, and it is therefore not surprising that tablets and mobile phones are indispensable items found in every family unit.
However, as a Parent, we have decided the narrow the role, the Smart Phone has on my kids. As the kids are under 12, I personally feel that they can go through life without a mobile phone. Although my daughter has reiterated the convenience that a mobile phone brings, as she can always contact me when her school ends, we have stuck to our guns, and not given her a smartphone. We have told her, that if she wants to contact us, she can use the school phone, or her friend’s mobile.
Our staunch stand on the mobile phone is due to the parenting complexities brought about by a mobile phone. Having a smartphone, means that kids have access to messaging chat rooms and social media. These variables bring with them the negative influences of gaming addictions, exposure to cussing, pornography and other moral complications .
Let me first state that I don’t expect my children to stay in a cocoon, and not face such influences in their lives. However, I believe in age-appropriate development, and I will accept the possibilities of such influences, when they grow older. Hopefully, when such encounters arise, the kids would have developed a stronger sense of moral conviction and beliefs, to make a stand about such issues. As a parent, I also intend to be the person, who speaks to them about such influences, rather than my children, finding out about the “birds and the bees”, from a class chatroom.
Meanwhile, without the additional variable of a smartphone, I am happy to enjoy the time that I have with my children to build these foundations, before they face the teenage years. I will face the challenges of the mobile phone, when they become teenagers, but even then, I am preparing to conduct a supervised battle. There will be limitations on mobile and data usage, as the kids must learn to grow to become responsible users of their devices. No one becomes a responsible adult overnight!
These were just some of the many questions that we tackled at the Singapore Parenting Congress, and although our views may not be exhaustive and all-encompassing, we hope that they can provide some insight to Parents, who are taking the same journey as us. Overall, I had a great time at the Singapore Parenting Congress, and I learnt so much just by talking to my panelists at the conference. It takes a village to raise a child, and as we journey together, it makes the whole parenting process even more enjoyable.