Dear Madam President

If someone living in Yishun Ave 4 could just help me show this to the lady with the jumbo flat and 3 reserved parking lots, if you manage to bump into her despite her small army of police escorts and bodyguards:

Dear Madam President,

Despite what people say, I do believe, especially right now, the Singapore Presidency truly should be the highest office in the land, but hor…

It isn’t for safeguarding the national reserves, that’s pretty much out of your hands.

It’s not for the President’s Challenge, you just have to show up.

And it’s not for being the Chief Scout of the Singapore Scouts Association, although my son very much appreciates your patronage to his CCA.

I believe you’re holding the most important state position right now because (and you have made quite a strong emphasis on this as well) you want to unite the people, especially now that it seems most of the other statesmen currently serving in parliament can’t be bothered to any more… well, not after we’ve seen how they got you where you are now anyway.

Of all your predecessors, I can only think of one that really tried, but then he took the safeguarding the national reserves part of his job scope a little too seriously, and, uh, not sure if this is the right term to use, but can we say “constructive dismissal”?

Uniting the people isn’t going to be as easy as saying “Come lah, together-gether we do” in our four official languages, you know. We’re really severely fractured here. I personally have had my heart torn to shreds over national issues so many times in recent years, not only watching racial tensions magnify, but getting embroiled in some of these incidents myself (and my heart truly, sincerely goes out to you for now getting caught in the middle of one of the biggest ones we are witnessing in recent years).

I have friends that I’ve both made and lost, discriminating against other friends based on race, language and religion, status, nationality and what I’ve personally found to be ugliest of all, gender: seemingly normal people tear into the lives of consciously non-normal people through complaints, petitions, protests and counter-protests for and against legislation, human rights and children’s books of all things: a mission of hate conducted by an army of self-righteous against a people who just want to be left alone to live and love without fear.

Right now, most of all, probably through no fault of yours (though I know a couple of people who’d beg to differ), a ruling elite that has demonstrated that an overwhelming population of both supporters and opposers who have told them since last year that what they’re trying to do was a terrible idea, the voices of the very people they serve, does not matter.

You want to unite this 40km by 20km hot mess of hate, ignorance, cynicism and disappointment? I want to believe you can, ma’am, I really sincerely do, but I’ve got to be honest with you, I really don’t know you can. Your being president alone is causing such a rift among the people you have sworn to serve, and I foresee your decision to remain in your flat in Yishun is going to complicate the lift-sharing arrangements in your block quite a bit. In fact, I realise now why we never really saw the guy you replaced come out all that often the entire time he held office.

I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m sorry you got put into this predicament; despite the strong front you’ve put up in the last few days, I cannot imagine how you must be feeling watching this humongous backlash hit you. And short of telling you the only people you can probably take reference to in order to unite your people (never mind the state at this point) are either the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis, I don’t have any good solution to offer you.

I do have some solace to offer you, though. I know a small bunch of people, myself included, that have grown so disenfranchised with how the country is being run right now that we’ve decided to help some of the people on our own. Because of our education system, I know people helping other parents with homeschooling. Because of our national manpower management, I know people who care for abused foreign workers. Because of our transport system, I know people who are helping others figure out how to cycle to work instead. And because that one guy who we actually liked, who actually listened to us, who we thought was just starting to make a difference in how this country was supporting families, now has to take over your previous job, I know people, me included, who are quietly helping our communities on our own, in our own terms, because we don’t think we can depend so much on those people you’re working with any more.

We haven’t got much faith left, ma’am. Not a lot of hope, either. Now that you’re in your new job, if you could restore just some of that (I’m managing my expectations), I think we’d really, truly be grateful to you. But if you can’t, ma’am, it’s okay. You were given a big hot inhuman mess to sort out to begin with already, and we, your people, also need to manage our expectations.

If you need to talk, ma’am, I’m always on Facebook. And if you’re up for some kopi siew dai (you know, because that thing we’re suddenly on about diabetes), I live near Yishun, too. I can always cycle over (I have to scrap my car soon).

Sincerely (I mean it, no joke),

Winston Tay

Time Out

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I thought I should explain this before I go for a while.

It’s been a tough year. 2 job changes, a health scare that required a drastic change in diet and lifestyle (a change I’m still struggling with), my first gout attack (one that lasted right through a car review, too) and of course, every parent can empathise with the technical aspects of welcoming a new addition to the family.

The past month, in particular, felt like a lifetime. Four weeks ago, my father started experiencing breathing problems, but resisted going to the hospital to check himself until a week later. When he finally did, doctors found his difficulty in breathing was caused by a “sizeable” heart attack. And because my father also had weak kidneys, an angiography (balloon stent) was risky because the iodine that would be injected into his system for the operation would wreak havoc with his kidneys and possibly tie him to dialysis for the rest of his life.

The family got together to deliberate. I initially, my father was resistant; he’d seen many of his peers suffer through failed kidneys, and he felt it better to protect his kidneys rather than his heart. Besides, he said, “I consider myself very lucky already. My father died at 62, my eldest brother at 68. I survived cancer and bargained myself another 24 years of life, and I’m 70 now. I’m ready to go.”

I respected his position, but my sisters doubted it. My dad is a fighter, an aggressive man that wouldn’t take any bulls hit from anyone or anything, even from cancer. A few one-on-ones and a family get-together at his ward later, he decided to do the angiography.

A day or two after the decision was made, 2 hours after he went in to do the procedure, I received a phone call while I was in the office. An angiogram was done, and the clogged arteries were too severe for ballooning to be done. He would need to do a triple bypass.

When I next see my father, he was in a sombre mood. It was a tedious process: the hospital he was currently in didn’t have the facilities to perform bypass surgeries, so he would have to be transferred. And the islandwide hospital bed crunch that the nation had by now grown quite accustomed to meant we had to wait more than a couple of days for it to happen.

He finally had his bypass last Wednesday. It was reduced to a double bypass because the surgeon determined that one of his arteries was open enough not to require one, and it was done in about 5 hours.

My father began the recovery process well. He was eating, moving, and his usual surly self, except he had constant high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. At one point the doctors thought he was well enough to be shifted from the high dependency ward to a general ward, but he only spent a few hours up in C-class before they had to shift him back to ICU in the middle of the night due to a dangerously low heart rate.

Then yesterday, he suffered a stroke – a blood clot on the left side of his brain.

It happened at 8.30am, when he suddenly passed out just after breakfast. Since then, he hasn’t gotten worse. That’s the only good news they can give us.

As of now, we aren’t even sure if he can understand what is going on. I think he knows we’re around him, but he can’t talk and he can’t move his right side. He’s also moving around involuntarily.

Doctors can’t say for certain how this will pan out. He can either get better or he can get worse fast, but they will only know after 3-4 days. Initially they were contemplating experimental procedures because he just came out of the bypass and his recovery process doesn’t allow for standard procedures to apply, but in his current state the best they can do for him now is to continue with current treatment and see if he gets better.

My sisters are taking turns keeping vigil at the hospital. My mother is bracing herself for the worst. I tried to remain strong, but my limit was breached when my mother quietly said to me in a shaking voice, “He doesn’t have a suit.”

I now find myself juggling a new job that I started not one month ago (which thankfully I now realise I fit very comfortably in), keeping track of my own father’s progress and grappling with all the possible outcomes being presented to us right now as a family, and my commitment as a husband to the Mother of Xander and father to the two kids, because as I try to remain a pillar to my wife and children, right now my wife and kids are my strongest pillar of emotional support.

I write this now because writing has always helped me process my thoughts and emotions in my times of need, and also I committed to keeping The Blogfather true in words to the person I am in real life. But now, the blogs have to take a hiatus, to be dusted off and revisited at a better time.

I’ll see you soon. Hopefully.

… aaaaaaaand he’s back.

Three months was a tad longer than I expected to be out of commission, but life happens, and blogging tends to take a back seat as a result.

At first it was, “I need to focus on getting a job.” Oh My Word, as promising a proposition as it is for me, sadly wasn’t paying the bills. With No. 2 on the way (we’re due in March and still we haven’t settled on a name!), the Wife made very clear that I had to do better than a monthly take-home of $200 or so. My absolute lack of salesmanship aside, I realise it was important that I embarked on the idea anyway, because I learned exactly what I could do, but would rather not if given a choice, and what I really wanted to do. And what I really wanted to do was write.

Then it was, “I need to focus on getting through my probation.” I managed landed a job in the middle of my first hospital stay in September. It didn’t help that a couple of days into my new job, I had another pancreatitis attack and was knocked out of commission again for nearly a week. The good thing is, I hit the deck running when I got back to the office, because I really, really liked the work. Three months later, I am now a full-fledged copywriter in an ad agency; I get to write. I get to be a professional smart aleck. And I get paid.

But the biggest thing holding me back from blogging again was, “I need to get healthy again.” Those following me on Facebook over the last three months would note that I’ve been going to the gym, and developed a personal vendetta against food photos (it doesn’t help that a number of mom bloggers I’ve made friends with over the course of the year are certified kitchen goddesses). Allow me to explain, as various doctors have explained it to me.

You see, boys and girls, the pancreas is the second last stopover point in the digestive system. It takes care of breaking down any oil and fat (cholesterol) that you’ve ingested, and is also the organ responsible for producing the insulin that takes care of the sugar in your body as well. And the whippersnapper happens to have an incorrigible attitude (particularly in my case, given my family history); you hit it with too much work to do, it’ll turn around and inflame on you. And once it does that, your relationship with your pancreas will never be the same. That contract has to be renegotiated; you can’t give it too much cholesterol, and you can’t load it with too much carbohydrates and sugar, either, otherwise it’ll bring the full force of the Union on you. And sometimes, that contract is permanent.

I held back on writing about this, firstly because I’ve got family reading this, and secondly because the doctors aren’t even sure if this will turn out to be a lifelong ailment (not until my next blood test in a couple of weeks, anyway). But 3 months into finding out I’m only human, the more I get into this new regime of food and exercise, the more I don’t mind regarding it as a permanent lifestyle change. Regretfully, this restricts me from ever being a food blogger, but that market is quite well taken care of, I think.

Now, put all these things I needed to get done together, and you might be able to appreciate why even the Blogfather has to take a backseat sometimes; because for all the roles that I play in my life, nothing matters more to me than living for my family.

I can’t say when I’ll be able to write again, but I sure hope it won’t take another three months.

The SMBM – Wow, What an April Fool’s Joke

Yes, the Singapore Man Bloggers Group is an April Fool’s Joke.

The responses were nothing short of amazing (more on this later), though a small handful of you (I count 1 from the real SMB channel) may have caught the very subtle discrepancies from yesterday’s spoof post. I will say that the first half of what was written is true, right up to the part where I start talking about the SMBM (credit to Adeline of The Accidental Mom Blogger for the acronym, though she wasn’t in on the joke). As for the parts that aren’t…

First… dat logo. Oh, god, that logo.
SMB-spoof

I can do better than this (now I feel like my primary school teacher writing a remark on my own report card). In fact this took me just over half an hour to do.

The logic of it is:

1. it has 3 stars as opposed to the current SMB logo (We are men! We must have more!)

2. I made sure to work in the Superman chest emblem into the design (to pay homage to male chest-thumping), and

3. I made it red and white with the crescent hugging the cube, because Singapore.

Somehow the dad bloggers started visualising the 2 stray stars as nipples, and the SMB acronym as represented in the logo became Singapore Man Boobs. (Sigh. Men.)

“… we realised we have to differentiate even as we consolidate, hence the double-emphasis on the initial for “M”an.”

If I were to start a community of bloggers, I wouldn’t stop at just the guys (I’d have to start with the dads though). I’d make it a free-for-all — men and women, single or married, young or old, food, beauty and lifestyle, parenting, socio-political, Ministers of National Development, ex-SMRT CEOs, all would be welcome. I don’t really believe in segregation, because we’d learn a lot more from a diverse community. It sounds really nice, but the more I think about it, the scarier the idea gets administratively.

Plus, I may be free with my Singlish, but I would never add unnecessary initials to an acronym, real or otherwise. Some things about English usage I simply do not compromise.

“…we will start off by sending invitations to select Singaporean male bloggers (not just dads, because let’s face it, how many Singapore dad bloggers are there?)”

In fact, there are quite a number of dad bloggers out there. Not as many as the mums, of course. The collection is growing over at my Mom & Pop Mafia page (I’m?gonna add a Moms’ section very soon, and that is not a joke).

…the SMBM will also get some access to the Singapore Mom Bloggers Facebook Group page… (a separate member category with different access rights for the guys will be created within the FB group).

First, there is no such setting on Facebook groups. Second, I put that in there to freak the mom bloggers out, but nobody caught that one, despite the issue being discussed almost a year ago among the SMBs, when I first tried to get Rachel to add me into the group.

“… the combined strengths of the Singapore Mom Bloggers and the Singapore Male Bloggers will guarantee great sponsorship and paid opportunities for everyone!”

One dad blogger I know definitely took issue with this little nugget, to which I say to him (again), I know what you’re saying, and from our very first, really honest conversation about it, you know I agree. That’s why I included this “guarantee” into the prank in the first place.

I’ve said before, “I must live an honest life. I will steer well clear from being a hypocrite, ensure I stand firm to my beliefs or don?t believe in them, and I will not lie” (except on April Fool’s Day).

I’m still staying true to my words today.

No one can ever guarantee any kind of monetary returns to you. No organisation, company, not even your own blogging self. Sure, they can help you (and you can help yourself), but no one can ever, ever guarantee it. Remember that.

Besides, we all have our own motivations for blogging, and one thing I’ve learned since I started meddling in “emergency HR” back in my old jobs: it’s almost always never about money. Nor should it be.

That being said, we’re bloggers; we’ve chosen to be open books to the world, much less our own community. I take a quote off my FB discussion: “(…) lest we misjudge, we need to really get to know why a blogger blogs. And I’ve come to realise in my 1 years’ experience, if you wanted to know what motivates a blogger, all you need do is ask.”

“Members are only required to adhere to 3 major group rules…”

There’s a little truth in this one. The rules were pretty much lifted off of what I’ve been told about SMB, and only the 3 major ones. I’m sure there’s a longer list in their group documentation, but I’m not an SMB member… yet.

I’m a big sucker for servant leadership though, so I would really just allow the community to run itself (with a bit of a nudge here and there, admittedly).

“The SMBM group will be managed by yours truly, with Rachel acting as advisor…”

In fact, I conspired with Rachel to execute the April Fool’s joke. For it to work, I needed the SMB founder to push the announcement into the group. Now I’m waiting to see if she’s going to complain to me that membership has dipped as a result.

The result was not what I expected. Even with the SMB-targeted loopholes I placed, in the end, it was both the moms and?the dads that got really vocal about it. The passion for an idea like this (for the dads, particularly) is really giving me second thoughts about keeping the original Blogfathers! SG idea on the shelf.

“… but I have no doubt the SMBM group will eventually evolve into a (very manly) blooming flower of its own.”

Seriously, that “no doubt” bit is a lie. The truth is, I don’t know. But judging from the amazingly supportive responses I got yesterday as word of the prank spread, I won’t dismiss the possibility that an open blogger community may happen in the future.

I’ve said during yesterday’s discourse about the SMBM that “… there’s only so much you can learn and so far you can improve when you’re blogging on your own.”

As for it being run by me…

I gotta think.

(Please don’t kill me.)

Introducing the Singapore Man Bloggers Group

logo-200x20013 months ago today, I set up Blogfathers! SG to bring the local dad blogger community together. In fact, the idea was pitched to me by Rachel Teo, owner of Catch Forty Winks and the person behind the Singapore Mum Bloggers (SMB) group.

Over this span of time, Rachel and I maintained contact and shared advice with each other about blogging and the online parenting community at large. Recently she even invited me to join her Trials and Tribulations linky party, which I was more than honored to participate in.

smbgreyTo be honest, I’ve always wanted to be part of this very exclusive inner circle of bloggers, who share more than just blog tips, but honest questions and opinions about parenting and life in this little city-state. I have, on more than one occasion, tried to apply for membership, first as a father, then as the blogger husband of a mum blogger, and I even showed Rachel (and her entire community) my cross-dressing wedding photo (which just today reared its beautiful head again in Mummymoo’s dedication to wedding day memories) in the hopes that they see enough woman in me to accept me as one of their own.

Alas, I was rejected every time.

My efforts did not go entirely to waste, though. Over the last two weeks, we discussed the possibility of forming a male faction of the currently mums-only SMB community. The more we spoke, the more detailed the discussion, and the more it looked like it could actually happen.

Well, it’s happening.

***

Today, it is with great honour and greater pleasure that I present the spinoff faction to the country’s most tightly-knit community of parent bloggers.

SMBM

We’re calling this new group the Singapore Man Bloggers Group, or “SMBM” in short, because we realised we have to differentiate even as we consolidate, hence the double-emphasis on the initial for “M”an.

Over the next few days, we will start off by sending invitations to select Singaporean male bloggers (not just dads, because let’s face it, how many Singapore dad bloggers are there?) to be a part of this group, to share their experiences as hobbyists, professionals, and everyone in between.

As part of this sharing experience, the SMBM will also get some access to the Singapore Mom Bloggers Facebook Group page, subject to approval from the mom blogger’s group (a separate member category with different access rights for the guys will be created within the FB group). At the same time, the combined strengths of the Singapore Mom Bloggers and the Singapore Man Bloggers will guarantee great sponsorship and paid opportunities for everyone!

Members are only required to adhere to 3 major group rules:

1. You must be a man.

2. You must be a blogger who is able to maintain a publishing schedule of at least one post a month.

3. You must wear the SuMerBan SMBM badge proudly at the top of your sidebar.

The SMBM group will be managed by yours truly, with Rachel acting as advisor during the initial setup period, and as it begins, the group will be borrowing heavily from the SMB group infrastructure, but I have no doubt the SMBM group will eventually evolve into a (very manly) blooming flower of its own.

That Little Racist in All of Us

Things happen fast in this country.

Someone posts a really badly thought-out Facebook post on Sunday, then loses her job on Monday (with an ad placed for her position immediately after too), then gets a police report filed against her the same evening, and now we’re told she’s fled the country.

The scriptwriters for 24 couldn’t think of a more fast-paced story if they tried.

Then again, was there even any thinking involved throughout the entire fiasco?

Amy Cheong obviously wasn’t thinking when her post went up that Sunday; apparently thinking wasn’t a habit she cultivated because as it turns out, there were a whole series of posts depicting her very ugly personality. NTUC’s swift action to dismiss her, though warranted and appreciated, couldn’t have been much more than a reflex action given the time span it took to inquire and fire and process the rehire. And that police report. Aiyoh.

Now there’s even word going around that another hapless female did the same thing, barely a day after the previous incident reached its climax. Whether this is substantiated information or not, we can only sit back and watch the show.

But for everyone who’s got their popcorn out: it isn’t the first time such a thing has happened (let’s see, there’s one, two, three, four, geez, the list seems endless), and it’s not going to be the last. But there is one vital difference each and every one of us can and should make before succumbing to pride and prejudice: if no one else is thinking, we need to do the thinking.

So do let’s put things in perspective here.

Sit Down, Order a Teh Peng, and Think

If you think about it, Amy Cheong’s post(s) targeted a Malay wedding, a cultural phenomenon stemming from a racial tradition, and not the race itself. So was this a racial slur or cultural boneheadedness? Bertha Henson hits that point home for us in her take.

In the same vein, if you think about it, p_n_s can spell pants as easily as it can spell penis, just as v_g_n_ can spell vegans instead of… yeah, you get it now. So from blind reaction, do we see things in terms of genitalia instead of wardrobe and eating habits, just like we draw the conclusion that Amy Cheong is being racist instead of ignorant? If that’s the first thing that comes to mind, doesn’t that make all of us racist, however much or little our racist sentiments may be? I’m not even the first Singaporean to ask this out in public; Today published an opinion piece way back in 2003 (reproduced by by Think Centre) talking about this exact same notion in eloquent detail.

It’s even backed by science. The Scientific American published an article in April 2008 condemning pretty much the entire planet for its discriminatory ways. Racial, religious, sexual, age, weight and even habitual discrimination is hard wired into each and every individual that thrives in societal living. It’s a survival instinct, one that is as complex as it is natural, and hence a reaction rather than a thought process.

Admit it; we all discriminate. Amy Cheong has discriminated against a Malay cultural practice, and those who have reacted in shock, awe, shame and hate have in turn discriminated against her — lynch mob style. The incident has even spurred a handful of people to discriminate against themselves! We’re all guilty here.

The good news is, admission is the first step towards learning proper tolerance.

Are We Missing Anyone?

Be that as it may, one segment of our human race is nearly completely unaware of this concept we call discrimination: very, very young children. Our very, very young children. They’ll learn about it sooner rather than later though, one way or another. And who best to teach them but us adults? More specifically, us parents.

Image via schoolbag.sg

You know as well as I do that primary and secondary schools aren’t going to formally touch on the ugly side of humanity for more than a few minutes at a time; they would prefer to leave the school of life teachings to mums and dads while they handle the tough things like calculus, algebra and PE.

And we don’t do our children any favours if we shield them from what’s already in front of us. They’ve got to learn how to handle themselves, and we have to trust they will know how to, we need only point them in the right direction. So as a responsible parent, you teach your kids everything in your power and knowledge about everything they need to know about everything that’s out there. White, black, yellow, brown, blue and red, Christians Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, gay and straight, fat and thin, good and evil, right and wrong, Luke and Leia, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and everything in between, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

The important thing to note here is that because we’re already admittedly racist (right?), we know (well, most of us anyway) when to draw the line between when to joke and when to call someone out for going too far. In other words, we understand tolerance. And really, that alone will qualify you to teach that which our nation proudly proclaims as “racial harmony”. Hopefully if the entire country reads this post and agrees, the next generation won’t produce another Amy Cheong. I’m not getting my hopes up though.

But if you’ve gotten this far down The Blogfather’s ramblings, here’s something to start you off. You can teach your kids that Malay-Muslim void deck weddings cost as much as $25-50,000 (my restaurant wedding dinner only cost about $21,000), can stretch up to 2 days, and they do throw one hell of a party.

Also, I once played Hotel California at one Malay wedding when I was a teenager and the guests gave me a hearty round of applause for my guitar solo. We played Metallica as well; that didn’t go down so well, but talk about tolerance! True story.

Y U No Share?

Getting your toddler to play well with others is always a challenge; most, if not all of the time, it’s because the kid hasn’t learnt the concept of sharing.

Young Parents has published an article explaining that this is a normal developmental process in children, and where the difficulty lies:

When you think about it, sharing doesn?t actually make logical sense anyway. It involves your child giving away something he likes, without any promise of anything in return ? and maybe not even the item he shared in the first place!

The right approach to this starts from home; the article teaches parents how to inculcate sharing in your child by creating opportunities between your child and yourself, then explaining the intangible benefits and also ultimately setting an example for your child, since this is the age where your child will be following your actions and behaviour as part of his or her character development.

Of course, the ultimate test would be to put your kid amongst other children for playtime, where you can observe and even catch opportunities to encourage or correct (gently, mind you) your child’s sharing of toys with his or her peers.

Go on, think about it and give it a shot. You can always share your experience here in the comments too. [<a href="Young Parents]

Have a Little Faith

Amidst the current affairs commentary and general horsing around, Mr Brown doesn’t delve into his family life very often, particularly when it comes to his autistic 11-year-old girl Faith. But when he does,… well, click here to see for yourself.

Her Special School teachers shared something startling with us when they did their home visit. One Friday, in March, Faith kept shoving the card for the number 16 to her teachers. They couldn’t figure out why at first. But she kept giving them the number 16.

Then the teachers got it and asked, “Today is your birthday, ah? Happy birthday, Faith!”

It might not seem much, but for the parent of an autistic, it makes a world of difference.

Don’t Push: Avoiding the Rush in Developing Your Child

This is the 3rd in a 6-part series of articles based on the public lecture conducted at the National Library on 16 April 2012 by Professor Steven Pfeiffer entitled “Raising a Successful Child”; the content herein is reproduced with permission from Professor Pfeiffer and the National Library Board.

As parents, we naturally only want the best for our children, to love them, encourage them, do everything we can do to ultimately see them do well and become successful individuals. But as we uphold these values and expectations of good grades, doing things correctly and success in general, we need to be careful that we don’t unduly rush or push our children too hard.

If your child is pushed too hard to work on or excel, your child will perceive such a push as a shove, and because of that, the child loses the intrinsic motivation to do well. Your child will feel like he or she is working for you instead of himself or herself, or working to avoid disappointing you, or to avoid failure. If you put too much pressure on your child to get good grades, or put too much emphasis on not making mistakes, what starts out for your child as a desire for mastery or accomplishment – that internal, intrinsic desire to do well – will quickly diminish, to be replaced by a forced sense of working to satisfy the demands of parents and others (i.e., teachers) who push them too hard.

Related to this act of pushing is encouraging or rushing your child to grow up too quickly; wanting a child to advance beyond their age has grown to a global pandemic, not just in Singapore, where parents, as well-intentioned, loving and caring for their children as they may be, not only push their children too hard to achieve, but also rush their child to accomplish academic and/or non-academic pursuits at levels higher than what they are developmentally capable of.

The dual lesson here is to encourage and provide opportunities for your child to learn at a level suitable for their age and developmental stage, be excited about their mastery at work, but not push too hard, and not to rush them; don’t unduly focus on them doing everything perfectly and accurately, or you may find the child’s internal, intrinsic motivation erode, They may lose their passion for learning, and what you may end up with is a youngster who will not be successful in adolescence or young adulthood.

Steven Pfeiffer, PhD, ABPP, is a Professor and Director of Clinical Training at the Florida State University, and is also currently visiting scholar at the National Institute of Education (NIE) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Prof. Pfeiffer is also author of Handbook of Giftedness in Children, Springer (New York), 2008, and his upcoming book, Serving the Gifted… (Routledge, New York, 2012), will be available this coming August.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

The Wall Street Journal published an article dealing with why children lie and lends some insight on how to deal with your child’s dishonesty.

The article touches on what we have probably known growing up as kids ourselves – that parents are terrible at detecting when their children lie.

Parents are remarkably bad at detecting their children’s lies. In experimental studies of preschoolers, parents were able to detect accurately when their children were lying only 53% of the time?a little better than chance, according to a 2010 study led by Dr. Talwar. That falls to 33% by the time their kids are 6 to 8 years old. And parents of 9- to 11-year-olds have only about a 1 in 4 chance of knowing when their kids are lying.

As parents, we do naively hold the hope that our child is really a truthful, honest person in the making and that ironically, we consciously choose not to believe that our child is telling a lie when they actually are.

Worse still, we may be propagating our child’s habit of lying by being liars ourselves.

“Parents who lie for convenience’s sake, by calling in “sick” at work to attend a sporting event, for example, suggest truthfulness doesn’t matter. Or they might give mixed signals, such as, “Get A’s at all costs,” but “Don’t cheat,” fostering the kind of stress that can lead to cheating.”

And while parents may deem themselves mature enough to differentiate between harmless fibbing and outright lying that may harbour dire consequences, we need to keep in mind that our children might not have developed such advanced differential thinking; thus, even the “white lies” we tell in front of our children – whether consciously or not – hold consequences to our child’s development that we may not be immediately aware of.

In keeping your child on the straight path, the most effective way would be to set yourself as the example for your child. If you commit to be the man you want your child to be, you’ll find it not only benefits your child’s development, but your own too; it’s what makes fatherhood so magical. [The Wall Street Journal]