This week, we speak with Mr. Albert Lim, a proud father of three and doting grandfather of one. We explored his personal experiences in using comparison when raising his children.
Mr Albert Lim is a Families for Life Council Member and, PBM Director, SG
Mecor Pte Ltd. Together with his wife, Mrs Alison Lim, a Core Team Member of Mums for Life, we explore their personal experience and gain insights into the benefits and drawbacks of comparison in his parenting journey.
This article is contributed by Families for Life in support of the return of National Family Week (NFW) 2023 from 3 to 11 June 2023.
1. Comparison is inevitable in life – some see it as a way to measure success. However, a healthy balance must be found for a child to view and perceive their world with the right frame of mind. How did you and your spouse decide on how to parent your children? Did you and your spouse talk about your parenting approaches beforehand?
Albert: When we started our parenting journey, we were young adults whose only models were our own parents. In retrospect and upon reflection, we realised that as much as we honour our parents, we recognised that their parenting styles had many gaps.
As enthusiastic young parents trying to rise up to our roles, we did attend several talks and workshops on parenting. Very soon, we gathered that many things that were shared to us though helpful, were generic approaches. We need to tweak and make them ours as our children are unique individuals who need different styles to reach out to.
In actual fact, many of our parenting approaches were modified on the spot. It is a lifetime of learning as we journey with our children. What we are thankful for is that both of us have pretty similar views on how we should parent our children like in the areas of disciplining and resolving conflicts. This unity is crucial for this fulfilling and yet challenging journey of parenting.
Parents may sign up for Families for Life evidence-based parenting programme - Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P) which equips parents with techniques to improve their children’s (aged up to 16 years) psychological, social and emotional competence.
MSF’s evaluation studies found that the Triple P has positive effects on parenting and child outcomes in Singapore. About 85% of parents endorsed the programme as being relevant to their parenting needs.
The Triple P Level 2 seminar series is also available for Grandparents now. This evidence-based programme helps grandparents to understand roles, expectations and how to manage parenting differences with their adult children. Furthermore, the programme will help grandparents to confidently handle their grandchild’s behaviour using evidence-based strategies and take pleasure in the joys of being a grandparent while building strong, healthy relationships with their family.
2. Comparison is a natural phenomenon. Have you ever faced a situation where your children were compared to, or experienced issues of comparison at school or within the family? How should parents navigate these situations and what should they be mindful of when handling such situations?
Alison: I remembered that when I first left my full-time corporate job as a Vice President of a bank, I decided to hang out in my daughter's school canteen to interact with other mothers. I was stressed when I heard some mothers comparing the enrichment classes their children attended, the curriculum covered by the teachers and the like. I decided that that was not useful for me and thus chose to be in my children's schools only when I volunteered in the parent support group activities.
Having said this, Albert and I made a mistake in comparing my youngest with my first 2 children. My first child was from the GEP and my son was offered this track when he was in Secondary School. We were worried for my youngest who spent much time on manga. We nagged at him quite a lot and we believed that this contributed to his struggles as a youth. Presently, he is pursuing one of his passions i.e. teaching English in Japan after graduating. He majored in Literature in university and did well. We could have helped him more if we had parented from a posture of believing that he can make it rather than from a posture of fear and worry.
We believe that when we parent from the right posture, we will have healthier ways of communicating with our children and they will respond more positively. Children will not have to struggle from feelings of being doubted by their parents. Children will also enjoy more positive moments of connection with their parents. They will feel respected, accepted and loved. This will help to close the gap between parents and teenagers.
3. What are some values you inculcate in your child to help guide them through life and to better manage the ups and downs of life, including expectations, comparisons, and setbacks? What are some things you and your spouse would practice when raising your children to ensure that they develop healthy self-esteem and confidence?
Alison: I remembered my first son coming back home and said "Mum, thanks for being different from some of my friends' mums. You don't pressurize us by insisting that we must be in the 'tops". You are happy as long as we have done our best!" Another incident which I remembered was when my daughter came back from her first few classes in Law School and said "Mum, you did not make me study really hard" (she said this when she found out that there were so many smart classmates in her class - haha).
Doing their best and not having to be the best is the motto that we have inculcated in our children. They must respect themselves for who they are and believe in what they are capable of. We do not believe in just abiding by societal norms.
Our children continued to attend faith-based services/classes even in their exam periods. Character development is important besides academic studies. As parents, we need to help them not be overly stressed by what the world defines as success. We also allow them to make major decisions on their own so long within boundaries.
To maintain their self-esteem, we do not call or label them. We believe in giving feedback based on behaviours. We also made this a family rule, emphasizing that words have power. Our children also do not call each other names.
Parents with children up to 6 years old may also sign up for Families for Life parenting programmes – WiseJourneys and Purposeful Play to share parental experiences with follow daddies and mummies journeying together, practice mindful parenting, and pick up every-day, practical ways to communicate effectively with your child and engage them in purposeful playtime
4. Anything else you would like to share?
Alison: Albert strongly embraces the value of care and share as both of us strive to be role model of showing kindness and hospitality to others who are in need. Since the children were in primary schools, we would bring them to orphanages in neighbouring countries as we partake in care giving works with the care givers of these orphanages.
More about Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships
In August 2021, The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) had launched the Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships, which brings together stakeholders, community partners and Singaporeans together to co-create solutions and implement them to strengthen marriages and families. There are 6 focal areas and I champion Focal Area 3, Parenting Together. Through these efforts, we hope to inspire and support parents in their parenting journey. In order to cope with key transitions and better support their children’s development, parents can access various parenting resources such as just-in-time tips and topics as well as bite-sized parenting information.
In search of activities for your kids this coming June school holiday? The National Family Week is back from 3 to 11 Jun 2023! Look out for an exciting line-up of family activities across Singapore, including family bundles, meet and greets with Becky Bunny, and deals! Follow Families for Life on Facebook or Instagram today to get the latest updates on the National Family Week 2023 celebrations!