Address by Ms Indranee Thurai Rajah, President, SINDA at the SINDA Parenting Conference 2015 on 04 October 2015 at the Singapore University of Technology and Design
Dear Friends, Parents,
I hope you are having a great morning today.
- This year is a significant year to all of us. It is SG50—a year of commemorating 50 years of Singapore’s independence and success. For many of us, it is also a time of personal reflection, recollecting cherished memories of our growing up years. Many of you would have grown up with parents as your role models. Hence it is natural that when you become parents yourselves, you emulate the style of your parents, raising your children the same way you were raised.
- Parenting is a very rewarding life experience, when done right and with the right skills and knowledge. When I speak to parents, many of them share that modern parenting can be very challenging. Together with providing for the family, parents have a whole host of other challenges to tackle—a competitive educational landscape, adolescent children with their own set of priorities, effective communication within the family and more. With both parents required to work in today’s environment, quality time with the family can be rather difficult to come by.
- As such, we are lucky to have platforms such as today’s SINDA Parenting Conference. This is a platform for the community to get together, share our concerns as parents, learn from one another’s experiences and build winning strategies. The approach to good parenting cannot be a structured one or based on a formula. Each individual is unique—a family is made up of many individuals and a strong family is one that is able to balance the many personalities and the needs of all individuals within each family.
- We often hear about families that are in a way or other, dysfunctional. More often than not, internal, rather than external circumstances, are the root causes of these issues. Let me share with you an example.
- Mr and Mrs M live in a 3-room flat with their four children aged 13, 14, 15 and 17 years. Both are employed as cleaners. We first came to know this couple when Mrs M approached SINDA for help. They had two key challenges: Firstly, they could not earn enough to put food on the table. Secondly, they did not have enough time to monitor their children, and left to their own devices the children were playing truant.
- Our counsellors encouraged her to attend our modular parenting workshops, aimed at equipping her with the right parenting skills and the know-how to cope with her teenaged kids. Though she began attending regularly, her husband seemed totally uninterested. The reason for his attitude? He felt his parents never went through any ‘training” to become parents, therefore, he did not see why he needed to attend these classes.
- As much as Mrs M wanted to put in practice the things she learnt at the SINDA workshops, she was not able to. She shared with us that her husband was not being cooperative to her methods and highlighted that he and his lack of communication were often what caused issues at home.
- We realised the urgent need to engage Mr M. Repeated calls went unanswered, but through his wife, we were finally able to reach him and convince him to attend at least one modular parenting workshop. After attending one class, we were very pleasantly surprised to see him attend the next lesson as well!
- Our continuous engagement with him slowly made him open up to us. He shared with us his own struggles and pressures and how he had lost much hope in life. He spoke about the many things he wanted to do for his family, but was let down by financial struggles. In short, he lost his own confidence in being a capable father.
- It took some work, but Mr M gradually began to understand the importance of contributing effectively to the family and his roles as a father. He realised the need for good fathering and the impact that it will have on his children for life. He now puts aside dedicated time for his children and has worked on his communication with his family as well. Though the family still has financial struggles at times, Mr and Mrs M share that the relationship between them and their children has improved tremendously.
- As parents, we must be open to moulding ourselves for the betterment of our children. This is what the theme for today’s conference is about—My Child, Our Future. Nurturing a family is a shared responsibility. There will be sacrifices that have to be made, but the sacrifices will be sweet when we know that our children will grow up into confident and wholesome adults, well equipped to seize the opportunities that come their way.
- Today’s conference will touch on many topics that are very vital to good parenting. You will get a good understanding of the challenges in modern parenting, you will better understand the mind-sets of your children, and you will be presented with many solutions to the issues you face. I encourage all of you to participate with an open mind.
- For those of you who need that extra assistance, do know that there are many SINDA and government schemes that you can tap into. Please approach any of the SINDA staff present here today if you wish to learn more.
- As parents you have the treasured responsibility to guide and nurture your children, and ensure that they are given everything that they need to be successful citizens of the future. Be their pillars of strength, and the person they can come to for all of life’s experiences
- Remember: It’s about your child and your family’s collective future.