In Simply Her’s recent annual Chatroom, readers picked up strategies to deal with mummy guilt, discipline and school pressure.
CYNTHEA LAM, 36, stay-at-home mum, with two children, five and two
WHO The former marketing manager used to work 12-hour days, and felt guilty about being away from her kids. Two years ago, she quit her job to spend more time with them. SHE SAYS “Now, I see my children all the time – I cook for them daily and can volunteer at their school events. I feel proud to be able to do that. My children have also benefited – Jonas, my younger child, is confident and outspoken. Kate, from falling sick every few weeks, is now hardly ever sick, since I can cook her healthy, organic meals.” HER STRATEGIES “At times, I feel isolated and depressed. So I started seeing a counsellor and opening up to my friends. I’m now also using my free time to prepare and deliver organic lunch packs to busy working mums and their kids. It’s my way of going back to work without returning to the corporate world.”
MARIE KOH, 42, part-time preschool teacher, with two daughters, 12 and eight
WHO When she isn’t teaching, Marie takes care of her two daughters. Her eldest, Megan, will take her PSLE this year, but Marie isn’t going down the tuition route at all. SHE SAYS “Megan’s maths grades were, for a time, at the bottom of her class. I had to bite my tongue not to scold her. When she was in Primary 4, she asked for maths tuition. But after six months, her grades didn’t improve so we stopped. I told her that the best tutors were her school teachers, and if she didn’t understand something, she had to ask. That's what I tell her sister, Matilda, too.” HER STRATEGIES “Help your kids to be self-sufficient. When my girls have problems with schoolwork and are afraid to ask, I help them overcome their fear of speaking up by role-playing a fierce teacher, and they’ll practise saying, ‘Teacher, I’m sorry but I really don’t understand. May I look for you when you’re free?’ Now, Megan’s teachers say that she always clarifies things with them."
BETH YAP, 39, sales director, with two sons, seven and five
WHO Beth shares parenting responsibilities for her two boys, Tyler and Keenan, with her husband, her father and her mother-in-law. SHE SAYS “Sharing parenting responsibilities comes with challenges, especially if there are conflicting styles. But it has wonderful effects too. My boys have become closer to their grandparents, while I have peace of mind to concentrate on my job. My mother-in-law goes through their schoolwork, plays games and sings with them. Dad’s more focused on child-minding and speaks to them in dialect. My kids are exposed to both worlds.” HER STRATEGIES “This arrangement has helped me be a better mum. The time I spend at work allows me to feel more productive – I can enjoy my me-time, socialise with colleagues and run my errands. When I get home, I’m happier to be with my kids and I’m more fun to be with.”
HELEN MARJAN, 47, joint managing director and director of studies at Lorna Whiston Schools, with three children, 21, 19 and 16
WHO A British Christian woman married to a Malay Muslim, Helen is no stranger to cross-cultural parenting. SHE SAYS “I’ve lived here for almost 24 years, so I consider myself quite Singaporean. My husband and I share similar values, despite our different cultural backgrounds. When it comes to parenting, there’s no labelling of race or culture – we both want the same things for our kids – to do well in school, to be kind and to live good lives.” HER STRATEGIES “Focus on the similarities between you and your husband, not the differences. For example, my husband and I have always asked our girls not to wear shorts when their Malay grandparents are around. Over the years, this has helped build a healthy respect for other cultures too.”
Four mums and our expert shared their experiences in raising their kids.
Our host, Tan Kheng Hua.
The panel discussion focused on parenting hot button issues.