Podcast: How I Prepared My Child for Successful Relationships

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Podcast: How I Prepared My Child for Successful Relationships

Imparting and living out values for lifelong marriage

By Focus on the Family Singapore | 18 February 2021

For every parent, as our kids grow up, we watch on with a mixture of anticipation, awe and sometimes, fear. What if they make the wrong choices? Are they making friends in school? Even possibly, who on earth is he/she dating?

In this episode of the ParentEd podcast, tune in as Aaron Ng chats with Percy Low, partnerships manager for FamChamps and mother of 3 young adults.

The transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.


Aaron:
Since the person your child dates and ends up marrying will directly affect their lives, how do you help then to set up to be able to have healthy and successful relationships? Percy is joining us today to share more on her journey.

Percy:
Hello Aaron and hello to everyone who is tuning in. I am Percy, partnerships manager of FamChamps, a youth movement to raise any family champions and empowering youths to believe, live out and champion family.

Aaron:
Can you share a little bit about yourself? Like, how long have you been married and how many children do you have?

Percy:
I am married to Luke, and this year we celebrate our 25th anniversary! I have 3 girls, aged 18, 20 and 23. They're all in tertiary education.

Aaron:
Wow, congratulations on your milestone anniversary! We were chatting before the show and you were talking about how your daughters have different personalities. Even you and your husband have different personalities. How do you make family life work with so many differences?

Percy:
That's right, in my family of five, we all have different personalities. I'm the extrovert. I enjoy hanging out with people, meeting people and having conversations whereas my husband is more of an introvert. He enjoys quiet surroundings but he's always ready to lend a listening ear to those who need it.

In our family, we navigate these differences by doing intentional family bonding activities together. Allowing the girls with different personalities and different love languages to plan activities, to find something that will suit them, or something that will help them to enjoy family time together.

Aaron:
It seems like every person in the family is valued and there's a healthy relationship between parents and children, even among siblings. Research has shown that the strength of the family unit affects the child positively. It affects how they do life and how they even work out their future relationships.

Percy, can you share more about how your husband and yourself are intentionally building relationships at home. Did your family of origin affect the way you parent?

Percy:
For me, my parents were divorced when I was young, so I didn't really experience how a family spends time together, or has regular meals. So when we started our own family, my husband and I discussed having family traditions, having family conversations together, and building positive memories – these are things that we want to inculcate in our daughters. So that's why we were very intentional when they were young.

We also have our regular dinners with my in-laws, grandparents, and make sure that the girls learn to speak their language. You know, to just express love. We also celebrate festivals together, putting up the Christmas tree, and spring cleaning during Chinese New Year.

Aaron:
Now that your girls are young adults, do you start talking to them about relationships, how they view dating or even the potential person to marry?

Percy:
We do have such conversations at home; in fact, we have lots of it. Sometimes, they’d say, "Mum, stop it, you're talking about it all the time."

But I tell them that marriage is very important, therefore that should be a topic that we should always talk about.

Such conversations actually began much younger when they were children. Of course, we have age-appropriate conversations like: What do you look for in a best friend? What would you like to do so that you can strengthen this friendship?

This is especially important because when we talk about relationships, the foundation is always friendship.

Aaron:
At what age would you allow your children to date?

Percy:
Personally, I shared with my girls "Mom will prefer that when you're in your teens, you should enjoy the activities and the friendship that you have.

"Therefore, no dating when you are in your teens, but as you enter into young adulthood, that's where you can consider dating, because of the friendships that you have built earlier."

Aaron:
So, if I'm a 14, 15-year old, can I go on a group date, is that allowed?

Percy:
So we have to define what is a date, right? We definitely encourage going out in groups, and we say that is not actually a date, but it's really having great friends, having positive healthy activities, going out to build friendships, and that's healthy for a young person.

To us, dating is really about spending more one-to-one time with somebody that you are considering as your future husband.

Aaron:
I think it's also important that parents welcome the friends of your children to come over to your house so you get to know them. Get to understand what they’re pursuing, what their goals are, and it’s also a very healthy space to be in when your children and their friends are welcome in your home.

What about setting boundaries about dating with your daughters?

Percy:
We have such conversations at home because we value the importance of marriage and wanted to help our girls have healthy relationships. We encourage them to only enter a relationship when it’s something that they have really carefully considered.

They would have considered what are the values and the characters that they are looking for, so that when they enter into the dating period, this is something that they had already thought through.

Aaron:
What were their reactions like when they hear you share all these things?

Percy:
Well, there are spontaneous moments when we were very candid about sharing. It’s like, "Hey girls, these are some good traits you need to consider as you think about your future husband."

Other times, it was quite intentional. We actually have a sit-down conversation because we value them as our daughters and we want them to have successful relationships.

The girls are quite open because at home we have candid moments and planned moments, and they know that when we have a family meeting and talk about certain things, it's important because we value this decision about choosing a life partner.

Aaron:
I think it is good that you and your husband are very intentional in having those meetings with your children. With all the relationships that we may have, some may be successful, and some may be short-lived. How do you support your daughters in handling relationships that didn’t end up as expected?

Percy:
In our conversations about BGR, we do talk about what happens when there is a breakup. We share with them that having a strong relationship requires hard work. So we don’t paint them a rosy picture that once you have someone you like, you’re going to get married and live happily ever after.

We also talked about the importance of navigating challenges and conflicts. Sometimes our girl will tell us, "Hey Mum, I have a friend who is facing a breakup and I don’t know what to do", and that’s where we listen to her feelings, help her to better support her friend. So the key for us is to listen to their feelings, and let them know that we are there for them.

Because my parents are divorced, my approach to marriage and relationship has taken a deeper meaning. I think it is important for us to believe in family, to believe in this beautiful image of marriage. And that will help us to navigate even as we guide our children to build their own successful relationships.

Aaron:
Let’s turn to what parents can do to help our children to have successful relationships. Can you share some tips with us?

Percy:
One, have age-appropriate conversations at home; it can be candid or it can be planned. When we have conversations, the child will know that, "This is something my parents value, and this is safe to talk about", and they’re open to hear our views.

Two, I think you need to be intentional about sharing your expectations, your values, and even what you believe about family.

So my husband and I took the opportunity to share our own dating stories, how we make certain decisions concerning our marriage, and even in parenting.

In fact, we celebrated our 25th anniversary with our children. We got them to do a hike at Sungei Buloh where we actually took our wedding photos. So it was very interesting how after 25 years, we’re there again with our girls and there are just so many stories, so many challenges, and ups and downs. In celebrating our marriage together, we hope to paint a picture of how we weathered through our marriage, and that they can see whatever victories or challenges that we may have.

Aaron:
That’s such a beautiful picture. To our listeners who are thinking of talking about relationships with your children, perhaps you want to share with them your love story, the victories and also heartaches of marriage.

Were there any challenging conversations with your children?

Percy:
There were candid moments where they disagreed, for example, the age that we set as a guideline. They replied, “Mum, I may be missing out on something because my friends are having boyfriends. Why can’t I do that?"

The most difficult conversations will probably be in the area of peer pressure, where our family holds a certain value, but our teens may doubt if what you say is correct.

Aaron:
On one hand, there are young adults who say "I would like to be in a relationship," but on the other hand and in recent years, there’s a phenomenon that young people do not want to be committed in a relationship. How can we encourage our children to build healthy relationships with people?

Percy:
I think it all begins with valuing the importance of friendship. If we enter a relationship with the mindset to meet certain relationship goals, then I think we miss out this importance of the foundation of friendship.

And that’s what we have been encouraging our girls — have healthy friendships with people of the opposite gender. It may not turn out to be the one eventually, but you know what? You’re going to have a lot of strong friendships in the end.

One day, my daughter called me and said, “Mum, my project team is coming over to our place for dinner, is that alright?” I said, “Sure”. When I opened the door, all of them were guys. And her grandma was like, “So which one is the boyfriend?”

And I had to explain to Grandma that my daughters are learning to build healthy relationships with the opposite gender. It doesn’t mean every guy that she brings back has to be the boyfriend. I think that’s the confidence that we also want to give to our girls.

Aaron:
So it’s really about learning how to navigate your personal identity, having that confidence in building relationships, and also learning from their parents how relationships are done.

Can you share just one thing that you have noticed in your children, that they probably gained from your husband and yourself?

Percy:
One thing we saw, and we are quite pleased with, would be their navigating relationships with people around them.

I shared earlier that I’m more of an extrovert while my husband tends to be the quiet one. I’ve seen how my daughters navigate their social relationships in the sense they know when to have good conversations with friends, and at the same time, they are sensitive when there is someone who needed a one-to-one conversation.

Even with our different personalities, I think it can be complementary and we managed to give our daughters a balanced view of how relationships are built.

Aaron:
That’s so true, Percy! You know, parents are like a mirror to their children, and they are reflecting and observing how you behave and how you relate with one another. And they’re just learning so much from you. Thank you, Percy, for joining us today in our ParentEd podcast.

© 2021 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

 

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