Issue 84, March 2010
Parenting today
Parents and couples flock to a forum on helping children succeed in life.

Mdm Monica Lee has been a busy mother-to-be.

The 33-year-old full-time tutor and her husband, alumnus Lim Eng Boon (CEE/Class of 2002), have been studiously attending any course they can find on parenting.

So, when Mr Lim found out that the NTU Alumni Affairs Office was organising its 14th Distinguished Alumni Forum, focusing on the topic of “Bringing up Children in Singapore: Today’s Challenges”, he immediately signed up. As many as 200 alumni, staff, students and members of the public attended the forum held on 5 March at the NTU Alumni clubhouse at One-north, Buona Vista.

Of resilience and partnership
The forum featured speakers Associate Professor Jessie Ee from the National Institute of Education (NIE), Dr Connie Lum from NTU, and Dr Ivan Lee, a 1985 alumnus from the School of Mechanical & Production Engineering. Associate Professor Quek Jin Jong, NIE’s Principal Officer, chaired the discussion.

Assoc Prof Ee, who specialises in educational psychology, dealt with the challenges working parents face and suggested how they can enhance their children’s resilience through various means. These include recognising and helping them to manage their emotions; teaching them how to develop positive relationships; and helping them to see perspectives in decision-making. Such skills honed during their formative years will help children to relate better with the real world later in life. 

She further encouraged parents to focus on their children’s strengths and build their confidence so as to foster resilience, which will better prepare them to face the demands of the 21st century. Parents, she shared, could use stories and video clips from Youtube and pose open-ended questions; this would enhance their children’s social-emotional competencies.

Dr Lum, who lectures at the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language, NTU, described how parents can help develop their children’s EQ (Emotional Quotient) by being encouraging and speaking positively, reminding the audience that parenting is a partnership and not just the mother’s responsibility.

Practice makes perfect
After the presentations, a lively discussion took place between the forum speakers and participants. Dr Lee, who used his own experiences as a father of three sons, highlighted how difficult it is to apply parenting theory to real life.

Some members in the audience sought advice about children who keep testing their limits and challenging “house rules”. The “practitioner” Dr Lee replied that he consults with his wife about rules, and they are open to changes if their sons have valid arguments. He also encourages parents to observe their children’s moods and negotiate to get a point across.

“It was very helpful,” said Mr Mas Romi bin Mohamad Sukaimi, 38, an NTU staff, after the forum. “I think parenting is a balance of applying the theoretical and practical parts of parenting today. It’s not easy.”

© Alumni Affairs Office