“Children grow up so fast so cherish your time with them”

Image credit: Madam Chng Chwee Tee

The Parenting Journey is a five-part interview series where real parents dish out real talk about their parenting experiences. Follow the series here.

Renowned parenting expert Sue Atkins once said, “There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one.” With that in mind, we reached out to real parents with real stories to share from their journey.

In the first instalment of our ‘The Parenting Journey’ series, we speak with Madam Chng Chwee Tee, who, like most parents, juggles multiple roles as homemaker, wife and mother. Madam Chng and her husband have been married for 17 years and are parents to Claire and Josh, both 15 and 10 years old respectively.

Share with us how you discipline each child, according to their personalities.
Both kids have very different personalities and we usually sit them down for a talk if we feel they have crossed the line. An open heart-to-heart talk often works better for us as we do not believe in the saying “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Punishment may include time out from electronics, play dates, or the obvious threat of more talks.

Do you talk about your job with your children?
I am a homemaker so most of what I do, my kids see it first-hand. I cook, clean and drive, so they know what goes on in my daily life and they often help me out too. Teaching by example is the best way. I share with them new recipes that I am itching to try, about healthy versus unhealthy food and my desire to use as little chemicals as possible in our daily lives.

As for my husband who is in the fintech industry, they think he plays on the computer all day! His work involves quantitative finance which is hard for them to grasp so he gives them examples of what he does through probability-driven games or puzzles. He also uses the concept of risk and reward, which are prevalent in his work, in the talks we have with them about avoiding certain behaviours.

What are your thoughts on using electronic gadgets as learning tools?
I don’t think we are able to live without electronic devices in this day and age so it is a balance between using technology wisely and managing its drawbacks. My kids’ school has an online learning platform where lessons, homework and assignments are posted. As my daughter is in high school and my son is in junior school, her workload is much heavier and she depends a lot on her laptop for learning, such as research and submitting assignments. Apart from using their laptops for school work, the kids also use them to watch movies and games at home. We try to balance the time they spend on electronics and make sure they have lots of device-free time, be it sports, playing a musical instrument, etc. A tennis court is still not something you can buy on the App Store!

What are some educational products you buy to encourage your children’s love for learning?
We buy a lot of books but as there is also so much educational content available online, we make sure to encourage their curiosity and desire to use electronics as a learning tool, and not just for entertainment. Luckily their school’s online learning programme helps a lot in getting that message across. Often, our answer to some of their questions is “I don’t know, why don’t you Google it and tell us?”

What are some of the biggest lessons since becoming a parent that you would like to share with fellow parents?
There is no training for being a parent; it is “on the job” training. All of us strive to give our kids the best, to raise them to be honest, upright contributing members of society, and impart values to guide them throughout their lives. It is tough being a parent and a friend to them. On one hand, we need to guide and discipline them but on the other hand, we must be approachable enough for them to confide in us. There is no manual for being the perfect parent. It is our unconditional love for our children that builds the trust that is necessary for good parenting to take place.

Lastly, do you have any advice for parents like yourself?
Every day is a learning adventure when you have kids. Children grow up so fast so cherish your time with them. The best thing we can give our children is our time and love. Memories last a lifetime. Parenting is about building strong foundations for your child’s life. The best way to do that is through dedication and setting an example for them. We try to inspire our kids to be the best they can be, but ultimately, they have to forge their own path in life.

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