Chan Chun Sing doesn't discuss grades with his children, shares parenting tips with Christopher Lee

What Chan emphasised to his children from the start is to have “determination and discipline”.

Karen Lui | May 25, 2022, 11:01 AM

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Unlike the previous "Dishing with Chris Lee" episodes that featured artistes, the latest episode included a guest appearance by the Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing.

Chan also shared a post on Facebook about the filming experience on May 23.

The 52-year-old travelled to Pulau Ubin to have a chat about food, parenting, and education with the host Christopher Lee, who is a father to a Primary 1 boy, and actress-host Kym Ng who was also a guest for this episode.

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Having a father as a minister

In this episode, Lee asked Chan, who has three children, if his children feel the pressure of having a father as a minister.

When his eldest daughter was in primary school, he was not a minister yet, Chan replied.

The Member of Parliament for the Buona Vista ward of Tanjong Pagar GRC shared that he became a minister when his daughter was in secondary school, and she may have felt a little pressure.

“If she did well at school, people would say that’s to be expected of a minister’s child. If her schoolwork suffered, they’d say ‘As a minister’s child, shouldn’t you do better?’”

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Chan said learning how to cope with such pressure is part of the growing-up process for his daughter.

When Lee tried to ask the education minister for tips on discussing academic results with his son, Chan shared that he doesn’t talk about grades with his children.

What he emphasised to his children from the start is to have “determination and discipline”.

He is happy as long as they have these qualities, and he explained why:

“To overcome difficulties, discipline is required. If you can pick yourself up and continue walking after you fail or fall down, you will eventually succeed.”

Did Chan's mother expect him to become a lawyer or a doctor?

When asked if his parents had expressed their desire for him to become a lawyer or doctor when he was a child, Chan said no.

Instead, his mother had reminded him not to repeat a year in school.

According to Chan, she told him that repeating a year would cost extra school fees and he’d have to start working a year late.

Chan shared that he was expected to focus on doing what he was supposed to do and not becoming “too big of a burden to the society”.

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Ng then pointed out that parents have higher expectations for their children these days.

Chan said modern parents with higher education levels may have contributed to having higher expectations on their children.

He added that the internet makes it easy for everyone to know what others are doing, allowing people to compare themselves with each other more easily than before.

More on his own parenting experience

Chan subsequently shared that he felt the pressure with his firstborn.

There’s an eight-year age gap between his eldest and second eldest children, he said.

During the first eight years, Chan admitted that he and his wife had pinned all their hopes on their daughter who was the only child then.

He added that parents should not expect their children to fulfil what they did not manage to accomplish.

Chan said, “What’s most important is that the child can make their own choice,” which is something he reminds himself as a parent too.

Every child is gifted in different ways so they should be given the space to discover what they like and do what they enjoy, he added.

He also pointed out that the child will not have room for imagination if every hour of the day is filled with activities — something he felt is not too good for the child.

Chan gave an example of his younger son expressing an interest in paper crafts and wanting to learn how to make them from YouTube videos, which he encouraged his son to do so.

In fact, the proud father posted photos of his son's beautiful swan and scorpio paper crafts last year.

Chan added that being able to maximise one's potential and using one's talent to benefit more people is also a form of success and source of joy.

Photo via meWATCH.

Does the Minister for Education send his children for tuition?

When asked if he sends his children for tuition, Chan revealed that his children take classes outside school to learn things that are not taught in school.

He elaborated that his children might be bored if they are sent for tuition to learn the same things that were taught in school.

Similarly, if they’ve learnt something that would eventually be covered in school, they might not pay attention when it's taught in school.

Chan shared that classes outside school should help widen his children's perspectives and allow them to learn new things.

These include things cannot be learnt from books such as how to deal with situations or appreciate different cultures.

“You need to personally experience such things on your own,” he added.

Parents and teachers have to work together

In the later half of the episode, Ng raised an observation of how primary school students these days can lodge complaints against teachers -- something that is unheard of back in the day.

Photo via meWATCH.

Photo via meWATCH.

Chan said he is more concerned with parents' complaints.

He felt that experiencing setbacks is part and parcel of growing up, and parents should not be overprotective.

Such overprotectiveness can cause students to become over reliant on parents to solve their problems for them instead of facing them on their own, he explained.

Parents have to work with teachers or schools closely, Chan said.

The feedback sharing should be two-way: When parents observe anything amiss about students at home, they can discuss them with the teachers. Similarly, teachers can share their observation with parents.

Cooking for himself & his children

Since it's a talk show that involves cooking, the trio had a chat about Chan's ability to cook.

The minister revealed that seldom cooks these days as he is busier.

During the weekends, he sometimes cooks some noodles for his children.

He disclosed that he learnt cooking when he was in primary school as his mother had to work.

“She’d prepare the ingredients before she goes to work at night. We’d cook the rice first and make some simple dishes.”

Earlier this month on Mother's Day, Chan also revealed that he cooked instant noodles for his mother for the first time when he was only six or seven.

When Chan went abroad for his studies after completing his National Service, he cooked to save money.

Chan’s kitchen essential while studying abroad was none other than a rice cooker.

He’d put the ingredients in the rice cooker before leaving for class to slow-cook.

The meal would be ready to eat when he returned, he added.

You can watch the video clip here:

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