Parenting in modern day Singapore presents many challenges. Often, both parents are working and juggling many responsibilities. As a working mum, much as I desire to spend quality time with my children, I am often exhausted after a long day at work and struggle to stay engaged as my eldest son rattles on excitedly about his day at school while the younger one urges me to play with him. Many a times, I would fall asleep while reading a bedtime story to my son and he would have to prod me to wake me up.
Being time-poor and exhausted, we can be tempted to take shortcuts in our parenting and just rely on technology such as our smartphones or TV to “babysit” the children so that we can catch a breather. However, the time with our children in their formative years are precious and we need to seize this window of opportunity to lay a strong foundation in their lives. This includes equipping our children for independence while being ready and present to help them navigate through the myriad of challenges they may face as they start schooling.
Being present in our children’s life does not mean that we do everything for them. At times, it definitely seems easier to do all the household chores ourselves, or to hire a domestic helper, rather than taking the time to coach our children to do their part in maintaining a clean and tidy home. For example, it will probably take me 10 minutes to pack all the toys but it will take an immeasurable amount of patience to ask my children to do the same after they are done playing.
Growing up, my mother was a superwoman who did it all. As a stay-at-home mum, she cooked, cleaned and took care of all our needs. However, when I went overseas to study, I discovered that it was to my detriment that she had not trained me in doing the household chores as I soon found it a real challenge to even get the washing machine started. It was a very steep learning curve for me as I had to learn independence quickly or go without clean clothes, a clean house and food on the table.
To equip our children for independence, it is vital that we take time to coach them and give them responsibilities around the house. It is natural to feel anxious if it is your first time entrusting the chores to the kids. Perhaps, getting them to start on simple tasks such as, doing their own dishes will help to teach them responsibility. By providing them a chance to grow in these areas, they might even take the initiative in doing the extra chores you never asked them to do. Do affirm them for their effort thereafter as a word of encouragement from you can go a long way in building their confidence and self-esteem!
The reality is that we cannot always be there for our children and it is up to us, as parent-coaches, to raise them up to be independent and responsible adults in future. To love our children is to let go at the right time, to coach them on coping independently, to empower them to make good decisions, so that they are able to do right, even when no one is watching.
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Learn how to better equip your child for independence and support them as they begin their journey through primary school at the Parent-Coach Dialogues.