My children now confide in me

My children now confide in me
Ms Grace Lim (centre, with her husband How Chong Peng) decided to stop working because she did not have time to communicate properly with her sons Abraham (in blue) and Joseph and daughter Nathania.

Ms Grace Lim, 45, became a stay-at-home mum last August.

Her husband, Mr How Chong Peng, 46, is a director in charge of corporate planning at a technology engineering firm.

They live in a terrace house in the Holland Road area and have three children: Abraham, 13; Joseph, 11; and Nathania, nine.

"I left work in August last year. It was quite a struggle for me to reach that decision.

At that time, I was working as a commercial director in charge of business and corporate development with a multi-national corporation in retail. We had a domestic helper and my motherin-law ferried the children to and from school and tuition centres.

I started thinking about staying at home when my eldest son, Abraham, sat for his Primary School Leaving Examination in 2013.

I took no-pay leave for two months to help him prepare for it and realised it was not enough.

In the past, I didn't really want to be a kiasu parent. I didn't put a lot of pressure on him. But when I was trying to revise the work with him, I realised there was too much to cover in two months.

Some parents start preparing their children for the PSLE at the end of Primary 5.

Early last year, I started to entertain the thought of quitting work to spend more time to help his siblings.

I felt Joseph would face the same challenge at the PSLE.

Also, when Abraham started secondary 1 last year, he needed encouragement as peer influence was strong in a new school environment.

I felt I wasn't listening enough to him or his siblings because I had no time for proper communication.

When you don't have time to communicate with your children, they will probably talk to you less.

At that time, they talked more to their peers on social media.

I also felt guilty that when they talked to me, the response I gave was usually a solution - 'Why don't you do this and that?'.

I wasn't listening enough.

When Abraham went to secondary school, a classmate used foul language on him. I told him, 'Why don't you just give it back to him?'

But I realised I was teaching my kids the wrong thing. I wanted to hand him a solution, rather than teach him how to handle such situations.

I was with my company for 13 years and I didn't want to give up everything at one go. I did think of going part time, but it was not workable because I could not condense what I did to half a day's work.

It was not easy to delegate either.

I also travelled a lot for work - one week a month to places such as Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

I cut down on travelling in 2012, when my eldest son was in Primary 5, to three to five days every two months.

My boss did allow me to travel only once every six months, but I thought it was best to have a clean cut and to devote my time to the family.

This phase of the children's life - as they enter adolescence, when they are so impressionable - is when their charactermoulding is critical because peer pressure is more prevalent.

I have already missed their early years.

I didn't have the luxury of talking to them so much when they were younger. But now, they've started to confide in me.

I had savings and after I stopped working, I spent less.

We're comfortable.

Maybe I will contemplate going back to work in another three or four years, after my daughter sits for her PSLE.

Academically, my children have benefited from me being there to guide them.

For example, I help Abraham in maths and some of his humanities subjects. He came in third in class in Secondary 1.

He wasn't in the top 20 before.

Since staying home with my kids, I have discovered my children's strengths. For example, my daughter is good in art. I'm putting her in art classes to groom her for the School of the Arts.

I miss the interaction with my colleagues. I miss dressing up. I miss the salary, which was not too bad. I had to give up a promotion.

I keep myself very busy so I don't feel bored. My challenge is probably cooking.

I didn't want to be a public success, but a private failure.

I made a deliberate choice and I'm at peace and feel fulfilled."

 


This article was first published on March 8, 2015.
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