Conversation Starters for Healthy Sexuality

Talking about sex may seem awkward at first, but as you press on, it will begin to feel more natural.

Our effort to help our children develop a healthy understanding of love, relationships, and sex in marriage, is worthwhile.

As you take the first step towards a lifetime of healthy, wholesome relationships for your child, this eGuide will provide you with tools and tips to keep the conversations going! 

Suitable for parents with children aged 4 to 15 years.

Conversations About Sex Need Not Be So Tough

Research shows that when parents engage their children in topics on sexuality, their children grow to make wiser choices in relationships and sex. To help you overcome your fears in broaching the topic, we have designed a Talk About Sex video series specially for parent and child (aged 7-12) to enjoy, engage with and learn together!

Fatherhood: Braving a New World

Fatherhood can be exhilarating yet filled with so much uncertainty. How can fathers brave the new world of fatherhood ahead of them?

Join our host, Aaron Ng, who chats with Ian Tan from Our Daily Bread Ministries and father of two sons, aged 3 and 5. Ian shares his journey as a young father navigating and overcoming the unexpected challenges of raising children in an evolving world.

“I’d like to be viewed as someone who is trusted by (my sons) and they will know that for as long as I’m around, the home is a place where you have dad and mum who will always be ready to receive you home, go through different moments of your life with you, whether they’re ups or whether they are downs.”

Fatherhood is a call to a brave adventure.

This Father’s Day, we want to give dads a boost to keep going and growing in their unique parenting journey, with Call of Daddy: Braveheart.

From 9 to 19 June, Focus on the Family Singapore’s Father’s Day Campaign will feature the following free resources for dads and families:

  • Compilation of stories by dads for dads
  • Digital content for encouragement and equipping
  • Braveheart Quest – an opportunity for dads to deepen bonds with their children through meaningful activities

Find out more about the Father’s Day Campaign at

If you have enjoyed this episode, please leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcast or Podchaser. It’ll be very helpful for others to find our podcast. You can also help us by copying this link to share with your friends.

You can also support us by giving monthly. We appreciate your generous giving as every dollar helps to sustain our efforts in strengthening families. Do note that if you are based in Singapore, one-time gifts above SGD$50 or monthly donations above SGD$10 are eligible for 250% tax-deductible benefits.

Playing to My Strengths As A Father

In today’s world, fathers are increasingly expected to play equal roles with mothers in terms of hands-on care. However, many of us grew up in an age where fathers played more traditional roles, leaving childcare mostly to the mothers. Lacking in role models from their own lives, some fathers may find it intimidating to bond with or care for their little ones, or even struggle to juggle both traditional and modern expectations of fathers.  

As a father to two young children, I too have felt inadequate. I often compared myself with mummy, who seems to tackle modern motherhood effortlessly, whether it was bringing home the bacon, cooking, cleaning, or caring for the children. Her list seems infinitely longer than mine! 

Though self-doubt continues to be a struggle, I have come a long way in building my confidence as a father. A time of personal reflection, as well as regular affirmation from my wife, has led me to realise that as a father, I play a unique and irreplaceable role in the family.  

Here are some ways I have learnt to step up in my role as a father.   

Parents each have unique interests and personalities that can contributed to enriching our children’s development.

1. Leverage one’s unique personality and interests  

While it is good for parents to recognise our weaknesses and build on them, it should not blind us to our existing strengths. My wife and I have unique interests and personalities that have contributed to enriching our children’s development.  

In terms of interests, my wife exposes the children to arts and crafts, cooking, and applies her experiences as an educator to help them learn subjects such as English. As for myself, I bring my sense of humour and creativity to playtime and storytelling, expose my children to mechanical and open-ended styles of play through toys such as Lego and Transformers, and introduce them to other interests like coffee-making. 

Personality-wise, my wife brings more energy and spontaneity, and a sense of adventure to our outings together while I bring a tender love and warmth to our relationships, which creates an atmosphere of safety and acceptance in the home.  

Avoid unhealthy comparisons with other parents, and zero in on each other’s strengths and contributions to the family.

2. Recognise that we contribute to the family differently

It is human nature to compare ourselves to others, especially in terms of performance and ability. While this can sometimes serve as a benchmark for growth, such comparisons can become toxic when we cling too tightly to unrealistic standards.  

Rather than compete on who is the “better” parent at home, it has been helpful for my wife and I to take time to reflect and affirm each other – and ourselves! – on the different ways we contribute to the family.  

For instance, my wife is better able to juggle the many tasks at home, spanning from household chores to caring for the kids. She is more natural at keeping the house looking fresh and homely, in part by keeping a lookout for good deals on household items. As an educator by profession, she keeps a better pulse on our children’s learning needs and school schedules. Finally, as the more adventurous parent, she keeps abreast of events and activities that the family can enjoy. 

On the other hand, I am better at managing conflicts and meltdowns at home, whether it was between my wife and I or with the children. I am also good at giving the children undivided attention and tuning in to their interests and thoughts, which helps boost their confidence and self-esteem. Finally, I feel better able at guiding the family on making bigger decisions, such as career choices, choosing where to stay, which school our children should go, managing finances and big-ticket expenditures.  


3. Surround yourself with resources and like-minded persons  

Nobody wakes up as a competent parent from day one. Many skills that experienced parents demonstrate today are hard-won from experience or passed down from other parents. Similarly, I had to educate myself in the areas where I lacked. One key way was to leverage modern technologies to accommodate my busy lifestyle. For example, I follow parenting accounts on social media for bite-sized tips and tools which I can absorb on-the-go. 

It is also important to get connected to gain support and learn from others. For example, we got connected with fellow parents of younger children and have regular get-togethers. This exposes us to various styles of parenting, while simultaneously helping us and our children to build lasting friendships. We are also members of online parenting groups where we regularly get advice from on a wide variety of parenting issues.  

“Papa’s home!!”
Every day when I come home, my children shout for joy and run towards me for a giant bear hug. 

This image of my children welcoming me home is seared in my mind and heart. It keeps me going as a father. I once thought that my role as a father was easily replaceable, but this could not be further from the truth; there is no replacement for the role that we play in our family.

To my fellow fathers, if you are struggling with self-doubt over your ability as a father, take heart: At the end of the day, our children do not want a different father, or a “better” father to be at the door. All they want is for their very own Papa to return home to them.

© 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Raising a Neurodiverse Child: How Can Parents Embrace Its Unique Challenges?

Raising a child with special needs is never an easy feat, but almost certainly a rewarding journey. How can parents embrace the unique challenges that neurodiversity brings?

Join our host, June Yong, as she delves into the personal experiences of Teresa Soon, a mother of 3 and parent to a child with special needs.

They discuss the challenges that come with raising a child who requires additional care and support, as well as the joys and rewards that come with being a caregiver to someone with unique abilities. Teresa also shares insights on how she has navigated motherhood and offers advice for other parents who may be going through similar experiences.

Should you be a parent in need of help or support, our counsellors are available to lend a listening ear:

If you have enjoyed this episode, please leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcast or Podchaser. It’ll be very helpful for others to find our podcast. You can also help us by copying this link to share with your friends.

You can also support us by giving monthly. We appreciate your generous giving as every dollar helps to sustain our efforts in strengthening families. Do note that if you are based in Singapore, one-time gifts above SGD$50 or monthly donations above SGD$10 are eligible for 250% tax-deductible benefits.

What is the Difference Between Tantrums and Meltdowns

As parents or caregivers, we often hear other parents lamenting over difficult behaviours such as tantrums and meltdowns.  

While some may use the two terms interchangeably, do you know there are significant differences between the two?  

In this article, we will explore the differences between tantrums and meltdowns, and provide some practical handles on handling both. 

Tantrums are typically seen in younger children, usually between the ages of two and four, though this may extend to kids in older age groups. They are emotional outbursts characterised by frustration, anger, or a desire for something they cannot have.  

Tantrums often occur when a child’s needs or wants are not met, leading to an outburst of negative emotions. Typical behaviours include crying, screaming, stomping feet, hitting objects or people, and falling to the floor. Children may also use pleading or bargaining to get what they want. They usually end once they get what they want, or when they realise there is no benefit to continuing. However, sometimes, tantrums can spiral into a meltdown. 

Meltdowns are not manipulative, and are usually not within the child’s control. 

A meltdown is an intense reaction to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety or over-stimulation, and usually occurs when the demands placed on a child exceeds their ability to cope in the moment. Meltdowns are not manipulative, and are usually not within the child’s control. They are also more commonly associated with children on the autism spectrum or those with sensory processing difficulties.  

During a meltdown, a child may become agitated, exhibit aggressive behaviours, become non-responsive (like a computer that has shut down) and have difficulty processing language or instructions. 

How to handle tantrums

1. Stay calm 

During a tantrum, it’s essential for adults to remain calm. Reacting emotionally may escalate the situation. Take deep breaths, and remember that tantrums are a normal part of child development. 

2. Offer choices 

Whenever possible, provide children with appropriate choices to meet their needs. This can help them feel more in control, and nip tantrums resulting from frustration or a feeling of powerlessness. 

3. Validate their feelings  

Acknowledge their emotions and let them know it’s okay to feel upset. Use phrases like, “I see you’re upset because you can’t continue playing with the toy right now, but it’s almost time to leave.”  

Do not give in to tantrums, as this can reinforce the behaviour. Instead, teach your child to make their requests calmly. 

4. Set clear boundaries 

Establish consistent rules and boundaries. Children need to understand what is expected of them, which can reduce the likelihood of tantrums caused by confusion or uncertainty. Do not give in to tantrums, as this can reinforce the behaviour. Instead, teach your child to make their requests calmly. 

5. Use distraction 

Offer an alternative activity or toy to redirect their attention and diffuse the tantrum. Distracting them with something they enjoy can help shift their focus away from the initial trigger. 

How to handle meltdowns

1. Create a safe environment 

If you know a child is prone to meltdowns, set up a safe space where they can retreat during overwhelming situations. This area should be quiet, comfortable, and free from sensory triggers. 

2. Minimise stimulation 

If a meltdown is triggered by sensory overload, try to minimise environmental stimuli. Dim the lights, reduce noise, or remove the child from crowded places. 

3. Remain patient and understanding 

Remember that meltdowns are not voluntary and can be distressing for the child. Refrain from getting frustrated or making judgmental comments. Instead, be empathetic and patient. 

4. Provide post-meltdown support 

After the meltdown subsides, offer comfort and support. Help them understand what triggered them, and brainstorm new ways to communicate their feelings better in the future. It helps to write some of these ideas down on a whiteboard and keep them as visual reminders. 

Understanding the differences between tantrums and meltdowns is essential for responding appropriately to children’s emotional outbursts.  

Remember that tantrums are a normal part of a child’s development and can be managed well with clear boundaries and consistent caregiver support, while meltdowns require slightly different approaches, such as creating a safe and calm environment.  

By employing these strategies with compassion and understanding, we can better help our children navigate through life’s more challenging moments, and promote stronger emotional regulation, that can set them up for life! 

© 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Mum, Here are 5 Signs You’re Being Too Hard On Yourself

We recently passed the halfway mark in 2023. Some people like to do a mid-term life review to ensure they are on track with their goals. Educational institutions have assessments or exams to evaluate their students’ learning.

Have you done a mid-year assessment of your role as a mother?

This may sound like a strange question to ask mothers, but if we care to admit, we are evaluating our “performance” more often than we realise. And the bad news is our self-assessment is often biased because as mums, we are our own harshest critics.

Here are five signs that we are too hard on ourselves.

1. We engage in unhealthy comparison  

Comparison is a killjoy in parenting. Knowingly or unconsciously, we compare ourselves with other parents – in the areas of academic performance or in aspects that we or our children are weak in. Does the following inner dialogue sound familiar?

“Why can’t I be like Macy, she is so adept at juggling work and family life…she just got promoted and her children are doing so well in school. What’s wrong with me?”

2. We overlook the “little wins” in parenting 

There is a good mix of bad days and good days for mothers. However, when we are hard on ourselves, we are less inclined to notice the significant moments. When our child shows kindness to a sibling, we take it for granted; when junior puts in the effort to study for exams, we are slow to affirm; instead, we emphasise to junior how much more can be done to do well.  

3. We blame ourselves when things go south  

There is a good mix of bad days and good days for mothers. However, when we are hard on ourselves, we are less inclined to notice the significant moments. When our child shows kindness to a sibling, we take it for granted; when junior puts in the effort to study for exams, we are slow to affirm; instead, we emphasise to junior how much more can be done to do well.  

4. We frequently use negative language

Whether it is expressed verbally or an inner conversation, we are inclined towards negative self-talk. 

“I am not good enough”, “I just can’t get everything right”, “I should have known better than to….”, “I am a bad mother.”

If any of these critical statements ring a bell, you are not alone. However, being overly critical of oneself can be unproductive and ineffective. It does not benefit anyone, much less our children, even if we are hard on ourselves and push ourselves to do better or to make our child behave.  

5. We put self-care on the back burner

Our children’s needs often take centre stage and we are so focused on meeting their needs that we forget to care for ourselves properly. Truth is, we can provide the best care for our children when we first care for ourselves. Prioritising ourselves can make us more effective in our parenting and ultimately, happier as individuals. 

One effective antidote to combat such self-defeating thoughts is self-compassion. So, what can we do to develop the art of self-compassion? 

1. Embrace unconditional positive regard  

Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist introduced the concept of unconditional positive regard as a key component in his person-centred approach to therapy. It involves showing care and prizing a person by unconditionally accepting whatever the person does or is feeling.  

While unconditional positive regard is often associated with counselling, it can also be applied in other relationship contexts (e.g., parent-child, husband-wife) 

We can apply unconditional positive regard to ourselves as mums too – accepting and valuing ourselves regardless of circumstances we face in our parenting.  

2. Learn to silence the inner critic  

    • Find the belief statements to set off the negativity
      For example, it could be: “What’s wrong with me; I can’t get anything right as a mother.” 
    • Fix the critical script by challenging it 
      Is it really true that you cannot get anything right? Even if you made many mistakes in parenting, there are instances where you have gotten things right. Recall those positive incidents instead of focusing on that one poor judgment call. 
    • Flip the self-defeating thought to a healthy or empowering belief 
      For example, replace the negative statement with, “It is not true that I can’t get anything right as a mother. There are instances where I did the right thing. I wish I had made a better choice in this matter, but I can learn from it and exercise better judgment next time.”

      Silencing the inner critic takes time, patience, and practice. Do not lose heart if you do not get it right in the initial stage of practising this technique. Keep at it and you will experience a positive mindset change.  

3. Prioritise your self-care

One of the best gifts we can give our children is a healthy and happy mother. So, make time to nurture ourselves through activities that strengthen the body, mind and spirit. 

Parenting is hard work. While it is beneficial to reflect on our actions or take stock of ourselves to learn and grow, as mums, we often take ourselves too seriously and judge ourselves more harshly than we deserve.  

Let’s learn to value and accept ourselves unreservedly and develop the skill of silencing our inner critic. What is one thing you will do today to be kind to yourself?  

© 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved. 

‘I Felt Like I’d Lost Myself as a SAHM’

Even though I was living my Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) lifelong dream, I was losing sense of who I was. 

I had always wanted to be a SAHM because my mum was one. She was a very capable mum who did everything on her own, as my dad was often working late nights. I wanted to be like her.  

But when I found out about my first pregnancy, I was shocked. I couldn’t accept it. I was not ready to have a kid so soon, as we were only married for 6 months then. 

“All my dreams about spending time with my husband before kids came – travelling and haivng lots of freedom – were gone.” 

I cried and got angry at us. 

Things only got better when I first felt the baby move. It brought a whole new sense of wonder that there was a life within me, depending on me and connecting with me through all his movements. It was just amazing!  
This helped me come to terms with my pregnancy. When I delivered and could now put a face to my baby’s name, I was able to push on with the mentality that “Alright, I’m a mum. I’m going to be a SAHM.” 

However, this energy did not last very long.  

When my second child came along and we moved to our new home, I pushed myself very hard as the household depended largely on me. My sense of fulfilment was seeping away, drastically. 

My husband was often busy with work which left me alone at home all day. It was also too hard to bring my young boys out. I could not bring myself to give up staying home because this was what I said I had wanted.  

These thoughts were constant echoes in my mind:  

“I’m just a SAHM trying to run the household and parent the boys.”  
“I’m just a work machine completing the same daily routines.”  
“I’m just attending to everyone’s needs except mine.”

Although people told me that I was much more than that, I struggled to believe it.

1. My very real struggles 

It came to a point where I was crying every week in the shower, wondering to myself if this really was all there is to being a SAHM? I cried out to God asking if motherhood was really meant to be this hard and without joy. 

I can coach, teach, and train my kids, but I really struggle with playing at their level. During pretend play, I found it hard to imagine a storyline and role-play with them. I was dead tired after one story, but they kept wanting more. I was overwhelmed with frustration as I felt I didn’t have enough rest to keep sane the next day and needed alone time to recharge. 

My reality seemed so different from some SAHMs who looked like they were winning at motherhood. I knew I needed help to break out of this dark hole — believing there were mums like me — but no one was talking about it. I desired to hear from these mums to learn perspectives and practical handles to cope. 

Life had to go on and I was exhausted being stuck in a rut.

2. Opening up

I decided to share my struggles on Instagram in hopes others would open up as well. This gave me opportunities to meet with mums who resonated with my struggles. And I knew I was no longer alone.  

One of them shared that I was a stay-at-home-mum and not a butler. She asked, “Wanxin, you did everything like your mum, but are you a happy mum?” This stopped me in my tracks and helped me reframe being a SAHM. It should be about my kids and not the endless list of chores. 

Another mum shared that there is no fixed definition of how a mum should be, much less a SAHM, and I need to walk through this process and make this journey mine. While there is an overwhelming amount of information telling us the “correct” or “best” way to parent our children, it reminded me to be selective and see what fits my family, not the other way round. 

I also asked my mum one day, “How did you do it all back then?” It was their culture at that time to serve their in-laws and live with them. So partly, she had no choice but to do it. To my surprise, she mentioned that she enjoyed cleaning and scrubbing every tile and grout to perfection.  

My mum also said she regretted not having enough time with us. If she had the choice, she would have wanted to plan how much time to spend with us versus doing chores. I had misunderstood things all along… Cleaning to such high standards was her preference, not something I should expect of myself! 

Through these conversations, I’m slowly understanding the kind of mum I am.  

Gaining understanding of my own journey has put me in discovery-training mode now.

“I’m letting go of some expectations that I had placed on myself.”

3. Focusing on small wins

I’m learning to set goals and set aside time for myself. In the morning, I’ll change out of my pyjamas and dress in something I like. I try to eat, rest well and do what I enjoy (like pilates). I’m working towards finding more joy in this season I am in.

I also affirm and encourage myself: You did well today. Your son needed to hear that, and you said that to him. You were very tired, but respected your body and didn’t force yourself to finish that household chore. 

I may not enjoy chores, but I enjoy cooking for my boys and feel appreciated when they say, “I love your food, Mama!” Now, I try to prioritise connecting and listening to what my boys are saying, and not get distracted. I’m working towards finding a balance between taking care of my family and myself, so that I can be a happy and fulfilled mum. 

If I could encourage myself today, I would tell myself: Motherhood is unique and personal, there is no mould to fit into — no comparison, no competition, no condemnation.  

© 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved. 

SAHM or FTWM, Love is a Decision

What does it mean to focus on the family? Can a full-time working mum who comes home past dinner feeling tired and worn out focus on her family? Can a jet-setting dad that sees more flight cabin crew than his own children focus on his family? 

I believe the answer is yes. Yes! Busy parents can be family-focused. They can prioritise family first and give their best to their family. Yes! But: for them to do so, isn’t easy. In fact, it is extremely difficult. But, possible! Yes, possible! 

Would it be easier for mums to quit their jobs and focus on staying at home and bringing up the kids? Would it be easier for them to find part-time employment with flexibility? 

1. The different seasons 

I have actually been through all these seasons: I was a full-time homemaker for three years, a part-timer with flexibility for twelve years, and in the past three years, I’ve become a full-time working mum. 

You would think that having experienced all kinds of work-life arrangements, I could tell you which arrangement is the best. Yet, frankly speaking, it is difficult for me to come to any clear conclusion. 

Every season came with struggles, sacrifices and challenges. Concurrently, every season also brought joys, rewards and growth. 

For example, when I was a full-time homemaker, I struggled with the repetitive, mundane work that I did at home. I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home so that I had someone to talk to, as well as someone to pass my son to, so that someone else could deal with the incessant babbling and crying. 

As a part-timer with flexibility, I struggled with juggling everything. At one workplace, my employer adopted an attitude of “as long as she doesn’t complain, let’s keep giving her more work”. I was supposed to be part-time, but ended up with a full-time load on part-time pay! 

These were also the years when my kids had entered primary school and in order to save money on tuition fees, I became my kids’ full-time tuition teacher. All these part-time-but-actually-full-time “jobs” conspired to make me feel partly-and-also-fully overwhelmed at times! 

And now, as a full-time working mum, I struggle with being stuck in long, meaningless meetings, and having no headspace to plan a fun weekend activity for the family or simply research a new recipe to cook with my kids. 

Every season came with struggles, sacrifices and challenges. Concurrently, every season also brought joys, rewards and growth. 

2. Discovering the joys

So far, I have only shared my struggles. But there were definitely joys at each stage too! I have so many more anecdotes and tales to tell of my kids growing up, because I was with them when they were young. Because I spent a lot of time with them in the early days,  we are very close and connected, and I am blessed that my two teen sons talk to me and confide in me, sometimes even seeking me out for comfort when they feel like crying. 

During my daughter’s PSLE year, we spent an inordinate amount of time taking walks all around Singapore. It was as if she had been bitten by a walking bug. We would drive out to all sorts of neighbourhoods to walk, chit chat, and explore Singapore.  

It was stress-relieving and bonding at the same time, and a great way to “walk” my youngest child through her first high-stakes exam. And all this was enabled by the fact that I had a flexible work arrangement and was able to be home for her some weekday afternoons. 

And now, as a full-time working mum, there is the joy of being able to converse with the kids about working life, sharing with them life values as I encounter inspiring people or deal with difficult personalities and work requirements that require a great deal of stamina and resilience. 

In whatever season you find yourself in, in whatever work-life arrangement, focusing on the family is a decision you will have to make. 

3. Balancing it out 

In summary, there are ups and downs in every work-life arrangement. And there is no perfect balance and no perfect season. And thus, this brings me to my conclusion. 

Instead of asking which work-life arrangement is the best, and wondering if we would focus more on the family if we changed this or that about our work-life balance, we could be thinking differently. Here is the important part: Love is a decision. 

What this means is this: In whatever season you find yourself in, in whatever work-life arrangement, focusing on the family is a decision you will have to make. It is a decision, meaning it is intentional. It will require commitment of thought and action, and it will require sacrifice. 

You can expect struggles, sacrifices and challenges. But you can also look forward to joys, rewards and growth. It is always going to be a decision. It is always going to be extremely difficult. And it is always going to be possible. 

That is what I have learnt having experienced all kinds of work-life arrangements. It is neither better nor worse in any season, since every season is not perfect and has its set of pluses and minuses. In fact, I would say heartily that every season is extremely difficult.  

What remains is this: Love is a decision. Decide now to focus on your family, and do it to the best of your ability in whatever season you find yourself in now. It is possible. Yes, it is! 


© 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.