A parent’s first instinct is to protect, it’s a psychosocial imprint from the time spent in caves hunting and being hunted by wild animals. We nurture our offspring and try to help them succeed.
Although we no longer hunt and fish for survival, parents have new pitfalls and predators to protect their children from, but where do we draw a line between protection and molly coddling? How do we teach our children that part of success is learning how to accept failure and being able to bounce back from setbacks? How do we build the characteristics that our children need to grow and become resilient?
Guest-of-Honour, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development & Ministry of Education, began the seminar by extolling the virtues of a support system of extended family. Photo: Sport Singapore
Armed with these questions and more, more than 100 parents thronged the halls of School Of The Arts (SOTA) for Families for Life’s “Raising Resilient Children Seminar” held in partnership with Sport Singapore (SportSG). Guest-of-Honour, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, began the seminar by extolling the virtues of a support system of extended family.
“As Singaporean families get smaller and the proportion of dual-income families increase, the challenge of striking a balance between work schedules and family life may arise,” said the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development & Ministry of Education.
“Grandparents and relatives like uncles and aunts can support the parenting journey by helping to shape the values of our young and sharing of family traditions and heritage.”
“As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child,” he continued.
Family life educator, Charis Patrick, then took the stage to share her insights as both a parent and a therapist. During her talk in equal parts, humorous, moving and thought provoking, Charis gave the audience numerous pearls of parenting wisdom on how to help their children become resilient.
Some of my favorite quotes were:
“A champion is not defined by their wins but by how they can recover when they fail.”
“Resilience means your tioing ability (referring to the sound a spring makes)”
“True resilient people allow themselves to be vulnerable”
“Tell your children, when you have good days mommy wants to know, when you have bad days all the more mommy wants to know.”
Colin and May Schooling sharing their personal parenting journey with Mark Richmond (first from left). Photo: Sport Singapore
In the next segment, the Schoolings, Colin and May, shared with Mark Richmond, team lead at Singapore Sport Institute, their personal parenting journey.
They recounted their feelings when their son, Joseph, won Singapore’s first Olympic Gold medal in Rio. Colin, in particular, was extremely candid with his viewpoints about raising his son whom he refers to as “the little fella” in his colourful anecdotes.
One such anecdote brings to mind a parenting tip from Charis.
“Parenting is not about us making our children into what we want them to be. Parenting is about helping our children be all they can be.”
Colin Schooling reminisced about how, when Joseph was a young boy, he would without fail, wake his parents up at 4.30 am to send him to the pool. The elder Schooling would sometimes try to catch a little bit more sleep by asking his son to see if it was raining, knowing full well that he was going to get wet in the pool anyway!
What he was trying to emphasise was that he never had to push his son hard to succeed; at a young age, Joseph developed a love for sport and tried and excelled at numerous games, in the end choosing between swimming and golf.
Joseph chose swimming and the rest they say is history.
May was a bit more circumspect as she related how the years overseas taking turns with her husband to look after Joseph while he was studying abroad were emotionally trying and a sacrifice they were willing to make in order to help Joseph succeed.
She concedes that in our fast-paced lifestyle, we sometimes cannot be there for our children the whole day and that, grandparents, teachers and domestic helpers lend a hand. But she stresses that through it all if there is one thing you can do for your child, make it a habit to put him or her to bed. She reiterates that the bonding that occurs just before the sleep is the most important part of her day.
May also addressed how Joseph overcame a dip in form after the Olympics. She was extremely forthright when she said that Joseph had already achieved what he set out to do and she told him to take some time off swimming to live life fully.
Colin and May Schooling. Photo: Sport Singapore
Although his form in the pool might have been affected, Joseph needed some time to be a “normal” young man and she understood that and supported him through the transition. After a year or so of taking time off, Joseph Schooling found his rhythm again to win two golds at the Asian Games.
When asked about how bringing up a child has parallels with bringing up a sports person, May Schooling said: “How we bring up sports people is the same as how we bring up kids. Sports in many ways teach a lot of things to the kids, discipline, focus, stamina and endurance, and that’s what you want in life as well.”
“It’s exactly what you want to teach in a kid. Everything you learn about sports, you learn about rules, you learn more in sports than in studies, study is only study, in sport you learn how to live within the sport and it teaches the kid to be stronger physically and mentally,” she continued.
As a new parent, listening to experts talking about parenting can sometimes be a bit alienating as you struggle to apply their advice to your own children. But as the crowd melted away after the seminar and groups of parent begin to speak amongst themselves, finding camaraderie and solace with other kindred spirits, I realised that parenting is a personal journey and that each parent must find their own way, incorporating practical tips from the experts with an individualised approach to each child as we try to nurture resilient children.
For information on Families for Life’s Parent Learn and PlaY (P.L.A.Y.) 2019, please click here.