Values can't be taught between dinner and bedtime

Mrs Veronique Andrea Dawson, 37, became a stay-at-home mum at the end of 2006. Her husband, Mr Michael Dawson, 39, is a civil servant.

They live in a five-room Housing Board flat in Punggol with their daughter Monique, 17, and their son Shane, 12.

"My daughter was nine and my son was four when I stopped working about eight years ago.

I was an English teacher at a language centre then.

Before that, we had never seriously considered my stopping work because we thought it wouldn't work financially.

There was too much to give up.

But an incident that took place in 2006 made us rethink our stand.

At that time, we had an excellent domestic helper who was very good with the chores and a good cook.

She was also extremely patient with the children.

But I felt the children were not growing up with my values.

One day, at breakfast, I asked my daughter to pour juice for all of us, but my helper wanted to do it instead because she said my daughter would spill the juice.

My daughter insisted on pouring the juice and, indeed, she spilled some. My helper then gently chided my daughter, saying: "See, I told you. You should have let me do it."

I felt this clashed with my values. I want my children to learn, even if they fail.

That simple incident showed me that I was not able to teach them my values in the window between dinner and bedtime.

My husband and I were also working long hours then.

Some days I would come home at 8pm, have dinner and coach my daughter in her school work until she went to bed at 9.30pm.

Any time we had together was spent talking about homework. There was no time to build our relationship.

After I stopped working, our helper went home, we cancelled our cable TV subscription and stopped eating out.

We also cut down on our investments and reduced what we saved every month. Now we are financially comfortable.

It was easier for me to build a bond with my son than with my daughter because Shane was younger than Monique when I stopped working.

My daughter recently thanked me for pushing her in her studies. I can be a Tiger Mum if necessary. I pushed her to have discipline.

She is very driven now.

Some women juggle work and family life well but I don't think I did.

Now, I give tuition from home to a few kids in the neighbourhood and I feel I have a good balance."

This article was first published on March 8, 2015.
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