“It is a joy to see our children grow with each passing day”

Image credit: Sarah and Jimmy

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

In the third part of our ‘The Parenting Journey’ series, we speak to educators Sarah and Jimmy. The couple have been married for seven years and have three children, Esther who is five, Samuel who is three and Uel who is one.

Share with us how you discipline your children based on their personalities.
We don’t really go by their personalities. We discipline them based on what is right and wrong. We do believe in “spare the rod and spoil the child”, so we do cane them if they misbehave. We teach them that actions have consequences.

I’d rather think that the difference in the way my husband or I discipline them is based on our personalities instead. I give them more warnings before I mete out the punishments, if necessary. However, both of us will facilitate learning. That means we explain to them how not to repeat mistakes and how to make amends. We do not put them down or use derogatory language.

Do you share aspects of your jobs with your children?
All three of them attend a childcare centre, so they are not unfamiliar with our jobs. I’ve brought them to my workplace on several occasions too. They see the interactions I have with my colleagues and students. Esther, the eldest, loves to read to her brothers. They also take turns telling each other stories or pretending to teach each other.

What are your thoughts on using electronic gadgets as learning tools?
At my children’s childcare centre, they are guided to search for information using iPads and they watch YouTube videos to learn crafts or other skills. At home, besides letting them watch cartoons or videos on TV, they do not have access to any electronic gadgets. We prefer our children to exercise their creativity in playing with physical toys. In addition, as both my husband and I have myopia, we want them to take care of their eyes. I think as long as they are supervised and have limited access, electronic gadgets can be useful in building new knowledge and skills. The gadgets should not take away meaningful interaction time among the family members. If the children would rather look at a handphone than talk to a human being, I believe there is cause for alarm.

What are some of the biggest lessons since becoming a parent that you would like to share with fellow parents?
1. Each child has their own learning pace and interests. Older siblings can learn from the younger ones too. Teaching them to be independent thinkers with good moral values, would be a great gift we can give them.

2. Children follow what we model for them. If we expect them to treat us and their siblings with respect, then we have to talk to each other with respect.

3. Children need constant reminders. We need to be very patient.

4. If we give up easily and just do things for them, the children will not learn resilience.

5. Even if we restrict the content they consume at home, the children will be exposed to them when they interact with their friends and teachers. We should always be there to give advice or teach them values, so that they can make their own decisions. If we don't teach them, someone else will.

6. We don’t have to change our schedules to accommodate the children all the time. Let their lives revolve around ours. If we need to wake up early for work, they need to wake up early to go to childcare. If we need to serve in church or work on weekends, we will try to bring them along.

7. It is very tough to travel with young children overseas during winter. They are not used to walking in boots and wearing bulky winter clothing. There should be two adults to every child.

What are some educational products you buy to encourage your children’s love for learning?
Match-It puzzles which resemble flash cards. Loads of books, for reading, writing, colouring. We also play with LEGO and board games. We don’t really buy a lot of products.

Do you have any advice for parents like yourself?
Enjoy the journey! We are learning new things about our children every day and it is a joy to see them grow.

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