“Treasure your time with your children”

Image credit: Karen Teo

The Parenting Journey is a five-part interview series where real parents dish out real talk about their parenting experiences. Read parts one, two, three and four.

In the final part of our parents’ feature, Ms Karen Teo shares her joys, struggles and lessons from her parenthood experience so far. Karen, who runs an employment agency with her husband, has two children, 10-year-old Xin Yue and eight-year-old Yang Yue.

Share with us how you discipline each child based on their personalities.
I believe in the old adage, “spare the rod, spoil the child”. I realised I use the methods that my parents used on my siblings and I when we were young. Since their methods worked on us, I decided to follow what they did. I personally believe caning is essential and the most effective method to teach a child the severity of their wrongdoings. In our family, being rude and disrespectful to the elders is unacceptable. Hopefully caning will etch in their minds that this type of behaviour is wrong.

I also believe in nagging. Constant reminders are essential when it comes to bad behaviours such as playing with their food, and taking large portions and leaving none for others. I also repeatedly tell them not to be selfish and not to tell lies.

I am very strict when it comes to safety. Once, my son opened the car door before the car came to a complete stop. I had to cane him hard so he would remember it is dangerous and not to do it again. Safety comes first. I believe that if we do not cane our children, they will not take it seriously.

Do you share aspects of your job with your children?
Yes. My husband and I sometimes bring them to the office. I do not know if the environment has rubbed off on them. As I am in customer service, I always tell them we need to be patient with customers and that the customer is always right. I hope they will exercise patience and be less temperamental.

How do you juggle multiple roles?
That’s why I bring them to office. I can work and be with them at the same time. My priority are my children. I do not want to regret not spending enough time with them as I know they will grow up really fast. I try to have dinner together with them as often as possible. I also try to go through their homework and chat with them about their day in school or at home.

Do you want your children to join you in business?
Yes, I would very much like them to be entrepreneurs. They need not join our business. They may start any business of their interest. I often quote this phrase by Robert Kiyosaki in Rich Dad Poor Dad: “Don’t work for an organisation. Own the organisation.” It would be great if they could become inventors too. My boy loves Lamborghinis. I told him he should start his own car brand.

What are your thoughts on using electronic gadgets as learning tools?
I am not a technology person. Electronic gadgets used strictly as learning tools are fine as long they don’t harm eyesight. There should be some controls on the kind of websites children can access to avoid exposing them to inappropriate material.

What are some educational products you buy to encourage your child’s love for learning?
National Geographic magazines, any educational books of their interest or even sci-fi titles. My girl likes the Geronimo Stilton series while my boy loves books about animals.

What are some of the biggest lessons since becoming a parent that you would like to share with fellow parents?
I have a girl and a boy. My girl gets jealous easily if I show more concern for her brother. Perhaps we need to be sensitive to their feelings. I may be unaware if I have hurt them or been inconsiderate.

Lastly, do you have any advice for fellow parents?
Treasure the moment with them. Do not pressure them to excel academically. Instead, explain to them the importance of knowledge. Once they understand the importance, their interest in pursuing knowledge will be cemented throughout their lives.

Their upbringing is of utmost importance. Moral education starts from birth. Their mistakes should not be excused because of their young age. Soon their mistakes will become habits and correcting them is almost impossible. Do not spoil your children. They already have more than enough. Teach them to treat people with respect and dignity. This is the first step in imparting humility and moulding how your child treats others.

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