Dear S’porean parents, no one can be perfect role models to their kids but you’re more than enough for them

You’ve got this.

| Zhangxin Zheng | Sponsored | December 22, 2023, 01:23 PM

As my friends and I crossed the big 30, one particular topic dominated our meetups.


Several of them have welcomed their first child and started sharing their lives as parents by uploading adorable photos of their babies on social media.

I can’t help but wonder about parenting and getting ready for this milestone in life.

When I was younger, I used to proclaim confidently that I want to have three children.

Now, the question that lingers on my mind isn’t how many kids I want to have, it’s: “How can I raise a child well?”.

Why? Because I’ve come to realise that parents are kids’ very first influencers.

Role model in more than one way

Young parents with three children these days are harder to find as compared to my parents’ generation.

But it just so happens that a few of my colleagues are parents, so I spoke to them to find out more.

Shawn is a dad to three children, and so when it comes to role modelling for children, he’s the first that comes to my mind.

Shawn shared that he thinks about being a role model all the time.

“Not just a singular image of a role model but a role model in different situations,” says Shawn.

Shawn hopes to play a good role model for his kids by modelling “tenacity, resilience and positivity”.

He hopes for his children to be humble and empathetic towards others who may be silently facing struggles at all times.

In trying times, he wants to “model self-kindness” and that means accepting who he is and telling himself “it’s ok to not be ok”.

Self care or mental health is also part of a healthier lifestyle – something that parents of older generations may have overlooked.

Parenthood is a learning journey for parents themselves too and so, it’s important to be patient with oneself.

The truth is different parents have different parenting styles and hence, their own perspective on how to role model well.

Role modelling can simply be improving one’s lifestyle by exercising more, sleeping early, reducing screen time and even cultivating healthy eating habits.

You will be surprised. Children are really quick at picking up these good habits, and all they do is to observe and follow.

Role modelling by just being a better self

Another colleague, Xing Qi, shared that he bonds with his son and daughter through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

It all started from his personal interest, but has now become a common topic among the three.

At home, the father and children would practise Jiu-Jitsu together, as they are learning the same thing at the same time.

This also helps to reduce the screen time for both Xing Qi and his children.

A healthy hobby like Jiu-Jitsu is also a way for Xing Qi to inculcate a sense of sportsmanship to his kids as they may watch him spar with others and how he interacts with his opponents.

Being a role model even for the littlest of habits

Perhaps picking up a new sport is too much for some, but parents can find something comfortable to start with when it comes to role modelling.

I went on to chat with Yat, who shared that as first-time parents, he and his wife did not eat fruits regularly.

However, for fear that their toddler son will pick up this “unhealthy habit”, they have started eating more fruits in front of him.

New mum Chandel agreed and said she will think twice before she acts or says something. If she wants to say something unkind in front of her daughter, she will stop and internalise those thoughts instead.

Get active, eat more fruits and vegetables, be mindful of words — these are healthy habits that are good and easy for parents to do, ideal for kids to start young.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself in this process.

Be kind to yourself

Parents can become too uptight as they want the best for their children.

For example, Yat knows that sleep is important for a child’s growth.

Being unable to ease his son to sleep becomes a point of guilt sometimes, and he blames himself for not being patient enough to do so.

However, ask any parent and you will know that cajoling children to sleep is no easy task.

The signs of exhaustion can be very different from what adults are accustomed to – dark eye circles and frequent yawns.

For babies or toddlers, the more tired they are, the harder it is for them to fall asleep.

They may be overexcitable or clingy, even though their tanks are running on empty.

The sleeping pattern of a young child is just an example of how parenting can be full of surprises for first timers.

Thankfully, Yat’s wife has his back.

Having enough support

Mutual support between couples is important, Shawn echoed.

Parents may feel stressed, especially new parents who are caring for babies for the first time.

What Shawn recommends for couples is to have frequent conversations, hear and comfort each other and focus on the things that make them grateful about.

“…constantly remind each other that they are too blessed to be stressed,” Shawn said.

After all, parenthood is a learning journey for two.

“Count the blessings more than count what’s missing,” Shawn said.

After speaking to these young parents, I have a newfound understanding and empathy for what they are experiencing.

I’m no parent myself but if there’s one thing I’ve gleaned from them, it’s this: Every parent is doing the best job they can to be the best role model to their children.

So parents, if you’re reading this, give yourself a pat on the back.

Besides counting on each other, parents can also check out more tips from Health Promotion Board’s Parent Hub where you find information catered for parents at different parenting stages.

There’s also a range of events and activities including the “Your Child’s First Influencer” activity booths that will be roving around Singapore to inspire children to adopt healthier habits. You can even bring home a family activity kit to enjoy.

Find out more about the events taking place from January through March next year here.

The writer of this sponsored article gains a newfound appreciation for her parents after speaking to more parents.

Top photo from Canva