Parenting Tips

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Having 4 Children

I refer to SM Goh’s message in the The Straits Times today – Help sovle the puzzle of missing babies. He is concerned that a population that is not replacing itself will severely affect Singapore’s future.

As a parent of 4 children, I would like to share with parents, parents-to-be and DINKs (couples who have Double Income, No Kids) how I raise and manage my kids.

I have 3 girls and a boy (no. 2), aged 22, 19, 17 and 14. For my first 3 kids, I foster them to a home. In 1990, when my eldest girl was 6, the nanny had to re-locate. I then took in a maid. In 1991, when my youngest girl came along, I foster her to my neighbour while the maid continued to take care of the 3 older ones. When she turned 2, she was in the care of my only maid, together with her other siblings.

All-in-all, we had 4 maids in a span of 10 years. In 2001, when my husband’s business failed, I sent the maid home after her contract ended. Since then, no maid. My youngest was in primary 4 then. I remember asking her can we do without the maid. She pondered for a while and requested to wait until she was in primary 6. I said no because we really need to cut cost. The car was also gone.

It was a great adjustment for the family but we managed. I wanted to try out the dinner caterer arrangement but my kids say no. They prefer to try cooking themselves. So, I started guiding them step-by-step simple meals and allocating household chores to them. Today, I am proud to say my 2 younger girls can cook better than any of their peers.

The working hours of my present job can be long at times. Of course, it is tough to juggle between work and raise 4 kids. However, I take each step as a challenge. Based on 22 years of parenthood, hope you will find the following tips useful.

Tips on managing your kids

  • Breast feed your babies if you can. The benefits are immeasurable.
  • Quality time spent with your child is more important that quantity time, eg engage in activities that involve both parent and child.
  • Follow the pace of each child, some may be faster, some slower.
  • Get them to share things (more cost effective when there is more than 1 kid).
  • Get support from family members and friends when you need help.
  • Try to get your kids to be present for family gatherings. It is a good way to stay in touch and know who your relatives are.
  • Train them to be independent, eg get them to wear socks/shoes themselves at a young age; clear dishes from dining table the put them in the sink.
  • Inculcate in them the importance of money, eg spend within your means.
  • Be involved in their school activities (they will appreciate that we take the time to do so).
  • Respect that kids do want private moments, like closing the door and talk to friends on personal matters.
  • Let them know that adults also need some private time, eg during anniversary, go for a show without them.
  • Be prepared to change with the times. Sometimes, you just have to learn things their way.

I do agree with SM Goh that having children is a personal decision and lifestyle choice. But children do add joy to the family. My encounter with each of my children is different. Will share with you some other time . . .

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