Tag Archives: children

Let Them Play and… Be There

I’ve been a parent for a little over 4 years… not much hands-on experience… but I’ve been observing parenting styles and their outcomes since I started having long-term memory.

I’ve adopted the “love them fiercely, play with them and be the parent” style. (Sorry, I have not yet come up with a cooler phrase). This was recently affirmed as an effective style when I met an old friend with teenage kids – gentle, loving, kind, good-spirited, God-fearing kids. For her, she said “Never pass your authority as a parent to another person” and “give them LOTS and LOTS of love”.

What I mean to “love them fiercely” is to tell them daily that I love them, give lots of hugs and kisses, give my time, my listening ear (and heart) and if we could afford it, a gift here and there once in a while.

When I say I “play with them’… it’s just that… play with them. Play doll together; play pretend together; play catch together; play hide and seek together; play wrestling, etc. Through playing with them, many things will happen, including undesirable behaviours. I will then correct them on the spot. Even when nothing negative seems to be happening, lots of positive things are happening. For example, I demonstrate how to be gentle and safe even when apparently playing rough (e.g. wrestling or sword fighting). I use my Ps and Qs. Etcetera.

“Be the parent” means that even though I seemed to have gone bonkus, I am still the adult with responsibilities and the parental authority over their lives. When it is time to bathe, they have to bathe. When it is time to eat, they have to eat. When it is time to sleep, they sleep. When they are ill-mannered, they have to be corrected.

My eldest has been mingling with older kids here and there (she is usually the youngest no matter where we go because we had our children late in life). Kids who were parented with theories found in parenting books usually bullied her, were mean-spirited, and did not exhibit behaviour that I would like her to imitate. These kids usually could read at an early age and seemed to have “discipline” such as keeping still to feed themselves or colour or write. For older ones who were in school, they seemed to be academically “up there”. They have become book-smart but lacked age-appropriate maturity and love.

Whereas kids of parents who let them PLAY and PLAY and PLAY all day through their preschool days (and even into primary school) were, while rowdier, nicer, kinder, gentler and friendlier to younger children like my daughter. Of course, kids being kids, there will be moments when they get rough and dangerous. But I did not have to be put on the spot because for this group – their parents were always present to catch teaching moments. And such parents are more often not, very others-centred and disciplined their kids a lot stricter to be nice to others and to share. I did not have to discipline their children for them or feel the need to protect/defend my own.

Before you think that these kids are out of control and ill-disciplined… be informed that their parents set physical, emotional and behavioral boundaries – all age-appropriate. And when caught outside these boundaries, the kids are immediately disciplined according their their age and personality.

In other words, these parents are building character over academic achievements. They contextualise and treat each child uniquely, yet fairly. They teach them to put others above themselves. This is the group of parents I belong to. With character, academic achievements can follow (with humility). But with academic achievements, character seldom follows (pride tends to set in instead).

It’s so true that “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor 8:1)

But I must admit that the parenting style I adopt is getting harder and harder to do as I notice more and more self-centred parents teaching their kids to be self-centred. Around such people, I have trouble teaching my kids to be others-centred because they are only going to be bullied (both by the other parent and child) and keep losing out and she will keeping commenting that it is unfair. In such situations, I normally have to think on the fly on how to handle each unique situation such that my child is not unfairly treated yet the other party is still respected. When in doubt, I walk away with my child.

Fortunately, such kids also usually have absent parents. I usually take the opportunity to teach that child to be kind and gentle.

There are schools of thoughts which think that the child should be left alone to struggle through experiences. Too much parental intervention would cause the child to be over-reliant on adults and not develop self defenses. I also believe that – but I believe in applying age-appropriateness for everything. A pre-schooler is too vulnerable and malleable to allow natural forces to take over. She needs to feel love and security amidst life’s challenges.

Sometimes, recently when my child is older, I watch her hurt herself or get bullied… but I just watch to see her reactions and not intervene. If she can manage, I let her work it through with her playmates. That’s when she tests out the values and skills that she already has and reaps the consequences accordingly.

Everyday, I pray for wisdom as a parent – to do what suits my family and child.


Increasing Independence; Increasing Distance

She grows up so fast!

A year ago, she was 16 (2 years old) and today, she is 18 (3) already!  Sometimes we feel as if she would be getting married the next day!

As if for the longest time, I had to clean up after her: Change her diapers; clean her poop; keep her cups; feed her; read to her; change her clothes.

Now, during waking hours, I have no idea how many times she goes to the toilet because she now does it by herself… complete with washing her hands after.  She only needs me to clean her when she poops.

She still wears diapers when she naps or sleeps at night because I refuse to bother myself with bed wettings.  Other than having to put it on, there are times whereby I do not have to change her when she wakes up.  She will change by herself.

No matter how tongues wag, I’m fine with her wearing diapers to sleep all the way to the point whereby she automatically does not want to wear diapers to sleep anymore.  So far, it is proven that she does not require potty training… all transitions from one stage to another were automatic.  No need for struggles and meltdowns to force my child to do something she is not ready for.

Now, whenever she gets a drink in a cup or a packaging, she would put the cup back in the kitchen or throw the packaging into the bin.

Meal time, she eats by herself.  I only have to feed her when she is very very distracted (e.g. by a TV show that makes her dance or the thought of eating only tidbits for lunch).  When we have cereal and milk at home, she even makes her own breakfast and prepares a set for me while I’m still sleeping.  (Daddy doesn’t get a set cos he does not like cereal and milk.)

At times, I find her flipping and “reading” books by herself.  While she can’t actually read the words in the  books, she has memorised the lines.  Very recently, she started to point to the words she believes she is reading.  Usually, she points correctly to the first word in the sentence.  Then, the rest is just “action action” only.

With her increased independence, she needs me less and less.  And as she needs me less and less, I miss her more and more.

While some parents train their children to be independent so that they can have control over their own time for their own pursuits, I don’t do it as much.  I do it just enough mostly for her own good and when she is ready.  Timing is tailored specifically to her readiness level rather than her age.

My daughter demands a lot of my attention/company compared to other kids of her age.  But I’m happy to oblige as much as I possibly can cos one day very soon, she will no longer need me at all – completely.

I heard that some kids do not want their parents anymore as early as 10 or even 7-8 years old!  It could be that soon.  I’m living proof – I personally wanted total freedom from my family at around age of 9 or 10.

We only walk this journey with each of our children once.  There is no turning back the clock, no room for regrets.

Cherish it.

Of Pink Dots and White Shirts (in Singapore)

NOTE: I was not triggered to write this because of the Pink Dot itself or the Wear White movement itself (which by themselves are peaceful things).  I was compelled by the online angry remarks I saw that resulted from those 2 movements.

When the Singapore Govt announced the building of big time casinos in Singapore, and when activists stood up to voice their views, I chimed in.  Casinos were clearly harmful to heartlanders and I did not see my stand as being politically incorrect nor socially insensitive.  I saw the government’s decision as an economically driven one and knew that it was unlikely to be dropped.  But it was still ok to stand up for what I believed in to strengthen a voice that hopefully would be heeded.  It did not look likely to turn into a civil war.

Now comes the ping-pong game between the LGBT community, those who support their choice of the unconventional partner and those who don’t… and I stay silent.  Well… not quite since I’m writing this blog.  But “silent” as in I do not go around involving myself in obviously anger-driven self-righteous debates.

Now… why do I stay “silent”?  Think about it… where is all this angered debates leading to?  More unity or more division?  More resentment or more mutual respect and understanding?  More inner peace or turbulence?  They probably lead to greater fears which lead to actions that cause greater anger, unhappiness and maybe even hatred.  And of course… probably more fractures in this already-small and fragile society.

Some* LGBTs want to be heard because they fear that they may not be truly accepted or be truly free – and they are fighting for that freedom.  Well… with all these heated debates, I think they are causing others to have more fear of them.  (*I say some cos I’m sure some are not interested in any of these ping pong stuff and just wanna live life.)

Those who want the LGBTs to quieten down do so because they fear that their children will get influenced.  Well… with all these heated debates, I think the children are getting more influenced by and exposed to the LGBT community in a negative way.

For the LGBT who feels discriminated and don’t feel free… hey… I think you have it pretty good in Singapore already (can walk on the streets without getting assaulted, can get jobs, can buy house, can have straight friends like me ;p ).  The feeling of freedom is up to you – within you – and how you interact with people.  No need to play ping-pong and get all angry and upset.  And don’t play it up so much till you end up doing the exact thing you originally wanted to take down – i.e. discrimination against people with different views and taking away their freedom!

Everybody faces discrimination some how…. discriminated cos of gender, race, religion, age, even physical stature, intellect, wealthy/poor, pretty/handsome.  We all face discrimination in some form or other.  What I’m trying to say is… LGBTs are not a specially targeted group… cos everybody is targeted somehow.  So I don’t like it when some LGBTs exhibit the victim mentality when they are so much better off than the poor and suffering, the human-trafficked-for-sex-trade and more.

I’ve read remarks from both sides.  I get what the pro white shirts want.  I also get what the pro pink dots are saying.  But I think the problem is that they are not listening to each other correctly and getting all heated up instead!!!  Those having heated debates are seeing through tainted (red) eyes!  I see it as LGBTs just want to be less discriminated.  Those who stand by conservative values just want to protect their children.  That’s it!!! All sounds harmless enough.  Instead of forcing one way through, shouldn’t we be trying to figure out how to have both desires met?  Maybe society has to go through all these to-ing and fro-ing before reaching equilibrium.  Maybe.

At the end of the day, I still want to live in a harmonious Singapore with Singaporeans who love one another regardless of race, language or religion … and may I add… sexual orientation.



P.S.1: To Christians who might view my choice to stay “silent” as “not making a stand for God”: “How about your children?” you might ask.  Well, my children will be taught the values and beliefs I have, including being resilient to their changing surroundings.  Do your best.  Live the way God wants you to live.  Suffer trials and tribulations if you must (including being discriminated because you are someone with “outdated” values).  Always be ready to help others understand your point of view, if they are willing and ready.  Have a quiet & listening spirit and leave the rest to God.  Be peace makers; choose your battles wisely.  Live and let live.


P.S.2: To those curious as to what my stand is after saying so much: As a Christian, I stand by God’s Word that marriage is between a man and a woman.  The definition of a man, to me, is one born with male genitals.  The definition of a woman, is one born with female genitals.  And for those who were born with both genitals or other abnormalities, life (e.g. parents or doctors) could have already made that choice for them while they were still infants (or they could choose when they grow up).  It doesn’t matter whether a man is sissy or a girl is tomboy.  The man is still a man and the girl is still a girl.  There are men who don’t mind marrying manly women and there are women who don’t mind marrying effeminate men.  And there are the “typical” fine men and women who choose not to marry or never met the right person of the opposite sex – they fill their lives with family and good friends and activities like tennis, swimming, soccer… or pigging out!!!  Without the responsibilities of family, some devote it to helping the needy.

That’s my definition of the world of genders, marriage, and single-hood.


P.S.3: I’m not against movements like the Wear White and Pink Dot movements.  If not for feminist movements, women today would probably still be a lot more oppressed in many places around the world.  If not for Martin Luther King, slavery could have lasted much longer.  But, as a Christian who believes that godly life principles are the best, I believe in having limits to certain things.  True freedom is when there are still some boundaries in place.  Having no boundaries is slavery and dangerous.

There are movements that arise because of fear, pain, oppression or perceptions of inequality.  We should hear them and see how things could be worked out.  If 2 seemingly opposing movements arise (as in our current case of pink and white), we have to be careful… cos both groups are in pain.

Then there are those that arise to overthrow existing power out of greed, fame and power… which… well… is another thought for another day.