Build A Home, Not Just A House

By David Kan

“I never expected this would happen to me …. I ‘ve either got the wrong partner or made the wrong choice! I’ve thrown my whole life into this stew; and if this family isn’t the worst mess of rotten chaos I’ve ever experienced – well, I just want to give up!” This bitter blast spurted from a 40 some lady who sought counsel in our office recently after 15 years down the holey road of marriage and motherhood.

Despite living in an affluent society established with economic and technological excellence, social problems still exist, and have been increasing throughout the years. For example, the
(i) current awakening realization of the rising aged population and how to integrate elderly individuals in the mainstream of society, (ii) emotionally-wrecked victims of family violence/abuse as well as (iii) youth crimes and aggravating trends of delinquent behaviour. Why are their lives different from us? Are these people given a chance to function like everyone of us here in the society?

Perhaps the rough and static marital account of the domestic lady was never an event of prediction that anyone wished to enter into the speculative itinerary.

‘Marriage’, someone said, ‘is made in heaven. But living it out on earth could be hell.’ Some might have given up already. Others are set for separation and the feeble are holding on tight to the rope of Fate. The clouds of disharmony that hovers shattered families of our gasping 21st century culture are multiplying at alarming rates. The possibility of Making Up is always there – if both want it bad enough.

On our wedding day, my wife and I were so relieved that we could eventually recite the marriage vows that we’d meticulously rehearsed and guarded in our memory banks for months before. However, upon reflecting this nervous yet life-bounding experience, I reckoned we were too naïve and presumptuous to understand the full impact of our vows. Then came the mutual awareness of personality differences, adjustments of social-philosophical values and gradual acceptance of each other’s unique idiosyncrasies are all part of the hard work it takes to make a marriage successful. Consider the ‘genesis’ of family life in learning to live together differently from pre-family days to the arrival of the first new addition, they thrill us, fulfill us and yet they could possibly exert a huge tension on the marital relationship as the demands and stresses flicker the flames of devotion.

With an adrenaline pumping dateline to hit our monthly sales quotas and production targets, what about sparing adequate thoughts on the overall picture – how far have we gone in developing our family? The blessings and bliss of domestic relationships could outweigh the Blisters of raging conflicts when we chart the course of marital efficiency and fostering family ties. This is the heartland of life, beyond the house, car, job and status.

No question about it, rearing a family properly is a biggie; it is physically and emotionally exhausting especially for working parents. Has the passionate spark in the family been lost? Is there a sense of disorientation and disillusionment taking over where you may have second thoughts in your commitment to your spouse.

It’s the Recreation trip we need to take – Time to relax, reconnect and opportunities to recoup our strength and energy.

Here are 3 purposes of recreation we need to weave into the fabric of our families :

1. Adds Vitality And Zest to Life
The art of enjoyment seems to be lost in the hustle and bustle of daily routines. In years
to come, what will our kids remember us for? Your nose in a book? Your face hypno-
tized by TV or the Internet? Flying out the door to another meeting?

Instead of just being around them, be involved with them. Carve out hobbies and forms
of entertainment that the entire family could enjoy cohesively. Keep up those joint
interests that help to ‘desensitize’ ourselves from uptight situations and toxic disputes.
Parents ‘getaway’ whenever babysitting aid is offered by siblings or in-laws would have
their adult needs met and recharge their readiness in attending to their children’s needs.
Get alone for a weekend every bi-monthly preferably, take pleasure in each other’s
company take it easy on each other. Don’t toil over small matters and work on plans for
your family, future and your retirement together.

2. Relieves the Tension of Life
Recreation means renewal – a process of brightening the often dull routines and
burdensome responsibilities inevitable to modern life. We live in a society which is
over-stimulated and under-exercised …. What a Combination! Pressures build and one
must let off some steam . Work does not kill but unrelieved pressure does.

Do little things that are almost effortless such as activating a smile that brings so much
joy to our spouse. Have moments of couch time daily, learn to listen to each other
without taking offence and surprise each other with different forms of birthdays and
anniversaries celebrations. Let’s not wait too long for our spouse to cheer us or brighten
our day, make the first move!

3. Unites the Family
Too many teenagers, when I ask them in counseling sessions to describe their home
relationships, tell me mostly negatives; not nearly enough remember happy, enjoyable
scenes of family functioning. Every family needs a department of the interior to
cultivate “loosening up.” It requires the lubrication of recreation to renew and smooth
out its inner workings. Family recreation and fun-times can be pulled down off the top
shelf of “things I’d like to do someday” and put in working order if we make time.

Sprinkle some recreational spice into your family’s living patterns to kick off a whole
new ball game!

Domestic difficulties often stem from our insistence on looking at the picture of our
homes as an undeveloped negative. We see only the problems in big black blobs.

Where but at home can you find a ready-made “fan-club” when you are honored, when
you achieve?

Where but at home can you talk about the little things that bother you and get a response that “tells it like it is”?

Where but in the home circle can you be loved for yourself alone, in strengths, weaknesses
and potentials?

The home marks a child for life. There is no second force in the life of a child compared with the impact of his home.

Let’s remember Life is too short to fret and fume. In fact, life is too short to fight and stay mad with our family loved ones.

David Kan is the Co-Founder, Programme Director and Senior Family Counsellor of Family Life First (FLF), a non-profit Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) set up since 1996 providing family life education cum counselling services and marital enrichment programmes to the community-at-large. He holds a Masters degree in Organizational Psychology and a Professional Diploma in Human Resource Development and Training. He is a certified Seminar Director and Counsellor of ‘PREPARE/ENRICH’, a diagnostic couple relationship assessment inventory tool, a qualified & licensed practitioner of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) psychometric personality profiling tool and accredited practitioner of Positive Parenting Program. He is also a registered clinical supervisor with the Australian Counselling Association’s College of Counselling Supervisors and an accredited member- certified master supervisor level of the Association of Psychotherapists & Counsellors (Singapore).


Sharing from a mum…

Originally posted on HELP FSC’s website.

What is the single most difficult aspect of single parenting?

I think it varies from person to person. Being a mother with sole custody of my three children, I feel my difficult tasks are to discipline the children, help them in the healing process and keep this “special” family together.

At the time of my divorce, my three children were in their teens. Teens and adolescent years are by far the most difficult time for the parents and I had to do it all alone, as my ex-spouse was not keen in co-parenting. It has been almost three years since my divorce. I tried my best to make my children feel that we are still a family and we continue to do the things we used to do before the divorce.

To keep the family together I joined the Single Parent Support Group in my church called “HOPE”. We did the RAINBOWS programme together, at the same time my children got to interact with the other children from single parent families and they realised that they were not alone. We had many activities together with the support group such as ice-cream treats for the children, organising trips to the movies and arranging picnics and potluck parties during the festive season. My children “gel” very well with the other children, and we parents also became good friends supporting one another in our journey.

Letting my children know my whereabouts is also very important for me. I call them each time when I am late or have to detour to run some errands on my way home. I let them know in advance if I have to be out with my friends and remind them to take care of themselves. I call this phone management. I call very often to check if they have had their meals and done their homework. I teach my children that wherever they are and whatever they are doing, I have to be informed. I will then inform the other siblings so that they are aware of what is happening and thus, we will be able to plan activities around each other’s time.

I can proudly say that during the week, we spend almost every night eating dinner and preparing the meals together. It allows us to talk about work, school and friends. They do the washing up. This instills in them a sense of responsibility, independence and teamwork.

One way of scheduling special family time is by implementing family outing during the weekend, going to church, movies, plays or some public events together. I would give them a simple treat of chicken rice, dim sum or a fast food meal, which is what most children love to have. Sometimes they get a special supper!

Grocery shopping is another way we stay together as a family. We do it together. The children not only help to carry the shopping items, it also gives them a chance to buy their favourite tidbits and decide what meals they would like to have the following week.

My children care for one another. They are very willing to be involved in one another’s activities. When my eldest daughter performs in plays or dramas, we will all be there to support her. We will also attend school fun fairs or sports day as a family.

Sometimes I have to be a cool and hip mum by going to places they like to go and doing things they like to do like watching children movies, “The Incredibles”, going to the “Ballet under the Stars” or even to the disco. Like they say, if you cannot win them, join them!

I include physical exercise into my routine and my children join me for walks, cycling and swimming. My children are also involved in family birthdays, weddings and festive occasions as a form of re- affirming our culture. We still visit their paternal uncles and aunties as a family.

A family that prays together stays together. Every night we will say a little prayer together before going to bed. We are generous with our hugs and kisses among ourselves and we do that before we leave the house and when we get home.

As parents we must pass on the hope. With our children, we can beat the odds. We can raise healthy, confident children in a supportive and loving family environment. We can be a successful family!

It Takes Village To Raise A Child

Lessons from the Amos Yee incident.

By Parcsen Loke

amos-yee-LKY-deathBy now everyone in Singapore, and even around the world, would know who Amos Yee is. He was the one who posted an eight-minute video on Youtube disparaging Christianity and attacking the late founding father of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Soon after the posting, netizens lodged complaints against Amos to the police, resulting in his arrest on March 29.

As soon as she learned about the video post, Amos’ mother filed a police report. Contrary to what was reported, that Mrs Mary (Amos’ mum) filed a police report to have her son arrested, she in fact went to the police to file an official apology to the nation on behalf of her son.(1) It was also a call for help to the community-at-large as she had been “unable to get through to him”. How did the community respond?

By and large, many of the 600,000 netizens who viewed the video the day it was posted found it repulsive. And, like me (and I didn’t even watch the video), they acted as prosecutor, judge and executioner. We decided that he should be taught a lesson and collectively forced the hand of the law on him. So, he was arrested and jailed. But did we succeed in teaching him the lesson we thought he so desperately needed to learn? Put another way: did it shut him up? Almost as quickly as he was bailed out by his parents, Amos posted another video, referencing the earlier video, as a means to raise funds for his legal fee. This was in violation of the terms and conditions of his bail. Consequently, he was again arrested and jailed.

Undeniably, Amos broke the law. Three, as a matter fact.(2)

  • Under Section 298 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224, whoever, with deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person, or makes any gesture in the sight of that person, or places any object in the sight of that person, or causes any matter however represented to be seen or heard by that person, shall be liable upon conviction with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or with both.
  • Under Section 292 of the Penal Code, whoever puts into circulation any obscene object whatsoever shall be liable upon conviction to a fine or to imprisonment of up to three months, or to both.
  • Under Section 4 of the Protection from Harassment Act, any person who makes any threatening, abusive or insulting communication, which is heard, seen or otherwise perceived by any person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding S$5,000.

But the real question is, “Is Amos a criminal?” In my opinion, Amos is just a talented kid gone wild.

The police did what they had to: they enforced the law, but shouldn’t a compassionate nation lead with understanding first? Some have blamed the parents for Amos’ wrongdoings but let’s not forget that it takes a village to raise a child.

The traditional African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” has been widely quoted when examining the partnerships required during the maturation of our youth. Our “village” has never been more necessary than it is today. We live in a fast-paced, instant information, and pressure-packed world. Today’s children are faced with a myriad of both challenges and opportunities. Navigating parenthood can be a daunting undertaking- partnerships and supports are welcome and necessary to prepare our students for tomorrow.(3)

1. Mother of Amos Yee: “I did not file a police report to have my son arrested”
2. Police confirm arrest of teen, believed to be YouTuber Amos Yee
3. It takes a village to raise a child

Appreciating Our Superwoman

This is the 3rd article in a series about and for working mothers.

by S. Jinaashini

Working mothers have a never ending list of things on their mind. Thinking about work at home and thinking about home at work is inevitable for them. But home and work are not the only things constantly on their mind. There are many things that they have to take care of such as finances, elderly parents and many more. Having said that, have you ever asked yourself what you can do to reduce the burden and responsibilities that lie upon her shoulder, which will eventually help to reduce her stress level? Here are 4 simple tips that can make your mother’s day much brighter.(Tweet this)

Tip 1: Let her take a break

Working mothers go through a lot of stress and anxiety trying to manage their work and family. Furthermore, having too little time for themselves to recover from a hard day’s work before going to work the following day can take a toll on their physical well-being as well. They are completely worn-out both physically and mentally at the end of each day and on a long run they would be just too tired to continue.

What you can do to help her is, allow her to take a break from all the work at home. Take over her duties and responsibilities for a few days in a month. Give her some time to rest and recuperate from all the stress that comes along with juggling both work and family life. Work on this as a family. Split her work with your family members. Get it done early and show her how much you care for her well-being once she is back from work. Doing such deeds once in awhile will surely lighten the responsibilities that she carries on her shoulders and also which mother doesn’t like coming home to no housework right?

Tip 2: Lend a listening ear

Mothers usually have a lot of stories to share with their loved ones especially about how their day had gone since day-break. Whether anything interesting happened or not they would have several stories to tell. Moreover, being able to share about her work load and stresses with family members through a discussion can help her to avoid bottling up all her feelings within. By discussing about her stresses with her family she will be able to free herself from the stressful thoughts and gain a peace of mind. This will enhance family life as well because the understanding between family members will improve allowing them to work to each other’s benefits. Discussions over dinner can also be a form of bonding between family members, leading to a family life rich in happiness and understanding.

Tip 3: Respect your mother

As said, it takes an amazing amount of strength to be a mother and even more to be a working mother. Having to meet deadlines at work, hence, staying till late and rushing back to spend the least bit of time possible with their family and to complete some piled up chores can be tearing them apart within. Wanting to be at two places at the same time and not being able to get one of them off their mind while at the other can be more of an emotional torture than anything else.

Furthermore, having to attend to other responsibilities apart from being a wife and mother, such as playing the role of a daughter to elderly parents, a sister to her sibling and a shoulder to her friends can be very draining. Despite facing all these struggles, not once would you have heard her complain about them. Although being stretched to her extremes she continues carrying out her duties to the best of her abilities and she deserves a lot of respect for that. Show her your respect by obeying her rules and meeting her expectations. Do the right thing at the right time to avoid disappointing her. Work hard to make her proud. Show her that you care because nothing can make her happier than knowing that it is worth going through all of these struggles for the family and most importantly appreciate her for all that she does.

Tip 4: Make her feel special

You don’t need to wait for special occasions to celebrate your mother’s achievements and to appreciate her. Bring her out for dinner at a restaurant or arrange a small family gathering to appreciate her contribution to the family. Buy her some flowers and write her a card to tell her how much you appreciate her. Something hand written would be much more meaningful as compared to something off the shelves. Allow her to take this time to catch up with her friends and extended family. This will give her an opportunity to relieve stress and get herself updated on what is going on around her. Opportunities like these will help her regain the strength to carry on with her daily routine of carrying out her responsibilities.

Research suggests that working mothers are seldom appreciated for their efforts and sacrifices. How many of us actually go out of our way to thank our mother and/ or wife everyday for their efforts to keep us happy? Whether verbal or by actions, an appreciation is all that is required to give our working mothers the emotional boost to carry on.


As Anurag Prakash Ray says, “I realized when you look at your mother; you are looking at the purest love you will ever know”. She showers you with the purest form of love and works extremely hard to provide the best for you. So, go on and appreciate the superwomen of your life for you are not who you are without them.

S. Jinaashini is studying Psychology Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore. We had the privilege of having her intern with us from March – July 2015.

Tokyo,JAPAN. Father and his children are watching a computer.


We are inviting families to express their gratitude to the working mother in their households. Capture it on video and send it to us.

The first 50 submissions will receive a $50 shopping voucher, compliments of the Far East Organisation, which can be used in any of their malls in Singapore.

Send your videos to in either mp4 or avi format.

The only condition for the video is that all members of the family must be in it (excluding the working mother).


Championing Hope As A Family

by Christopher Chee

There is the 70’s song, ‘Lonely People’ sung by the pop-band group, America:

‘This is for all the lonely people.
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up…………’

‘This is for all the single people.
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up…………’

Whether young or old, there are many out there with the feeling, thinking and believing that life has passed them by. Many wrestled with the sense of hopelessness in the face of personal crossroads. No matter where we live, it’s probably safe to assume our community at large — is full of needs: the poor, sick children, single moms, the elderly, the lonely and hurt. And no matter how well we plan, problems and challenges will pop up.

In a paradoxical strain, professional experts have suggested that a self-desensitising technique to stress relief is to shift one’s attention from intense problem-afflicted moods to initiating acts of kindness to the needy and less fortunate.

Rather than being immobilised by our disturbing circumstances and interpersonal tensions, family members can gear themselves up together and stretch their ‘do-good’ reflexes to help somebody and kindle the flame of hope to the neighbourhood.

There’s something special, even intimate, about serving those in need. It connects you, softens you, slows you down and helps you appreciate all the blessings you have. Above all as a family, you will start to cherish each other’s giftings, talents, presence and unique existence in building a household of love and support.

There are many charitable organisations through which you can attend to the distressed and downtrodden by lending your ears to them and walking them down the path of encouragement.

Christopher Chee is the Community Care Director at Family Life First.

4 Coping Methods For Working Mothers

Working mother Antonia Hoyle Photo: SOPHIA SPRING

Working mother Antonia Hoyle Photo: SOPHIA SPRING

By S. Jinaashini

If it takes an amazing amount of strength to be a mother, then it would take twice as much strength to be a working mother, bearing the full load of responsibility both at work and at home. Thankfully, there are ways that a working mothers can make it easier. Here are four simple coping methods. (Tweet this)

Tip 1: Transitioning while in transit

(Tweet this)
As a working woman, you are likely to spend significant amounts of time transiting between home and work. How do you spend the hour or so? Apart from watching movies on your mobile device, connecting with friends on social media or catching a wink or two, you should also try transitioning while in transit. By this I mean to make that mental switch from being a working woman to a mother while travelling home so that by the time you step across the threshold of your front door you will be fully present and ready to be a wife to your husband and a mother to your children. Many who do not make the switch find themselves stuck in time (and space). They might be physically present at home but their mind and soul are still in the office.

Tip 2: Manage your Expectations

(Tweet this)
Not only does a working mother have an endless to-do list at work, she also keeps one, albeit an unwritten one, for the home. It comprises grocery shopping, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, making sure that the children have done their homework and more; each one equally important – and urgent. Recognizing that a working mother is not Superwoman, no one in their right mind could or would expect her to accomplish everything perfectly all the time. The only one who expects all to be done, and done well, is you, the Working Mom. .

Margie Warrell in a letter to working mothers (on writes, “Your shoulds are a melting pot of social expectations, family pressure, often unspoken rules that we buy into it without realizing it. Our shoulds are shaped by our environment, which had seen them skyrocket in recent decades with the rise of so-called “parenting police” – experts that bombard us with advice on what a “good” parent should, and should not, do.”

So, you can either make your life, and that of those around you, really miserable by keeping up the unrealistic and unnecessary expectations, or you could cut yourself some slack and manage those expectations

Tip 3: Take time to Relax

(Tweet this)
Somewhere between your first job and your second (and I am referring to your roles as employee and mother), you ought to take time to relax yourself. You deserve it – and need more than you think.

Different people relax in different ways. For some, music is very effective in calming their hurried souls. Others take to exercise to expel the excess cortisol, a brain damaging chemical triggered by stress, from the body. The goal of relaxation is to distract yourself from the things that stresses you up, even if it is for a while. This respite activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (or PNS) and re-establishes metabolic equilibrium in the body.
A relaxed mind is a clear mind; a rested body is a healthy body; and a restored soul is a happy soul.

Tip 4: Plan Quality time

(Tweet this)
The debate of whether quality time is possible without quantity is a perennial one. I personally cannot see what is the reason for the confusion. If you are doing something good and enjoyable, like spending time with your family, why wouldn’t you want to do more of it or make it last longer? Quality and quantity, with regards to time, is not mutually exclusive. It is not a question of “either, or” but “both”. The real question is frequency.

Every family wants to have quality family time. But once it becomes an obsession, the joy of it is lost. Let’s set the record straight: Family Time does not have to happen every week, or every month for that matter. You could plan one every quarter and that would be perfectly acceptable. The key is in planning it well and guarding it jealously – not letting anything interfere with it.

Activities for quality family time can vary from visiting places of interests such as Gardens by the Bay, Marina Barrage, the Night Safari and the Botanic Gardens, just to name a few. You could also go fishing at the Yishun Dam, walk on tree tops at MacRitchie, or volunteer with some charities. Here are 50 ideas that you can choose from.


As you continue on your journey as a working mother, remember this: “The best gifts in the world are not in the material objects one can buy from the store, but in the memories we make with the people we love.” – Amanda Boyarshinov

S. Jinaashini is studying Psychology Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore. We had the privilege of having her intern with us from March – July 2015.

Tokyo,JAPAN. Father and his children are watching a computer.



We are inviting families to express their gratitude to the working mother in their households. Capture it on video and send it to us.

The first 50 submissions will receive a $50 shopping voucher, compliments of the Far East Organisation, which can be used in any of their malls in Singapore.

Send your videos to in either mp4 or avi format.

The only condition for the video is that all members of the family must be in it (excluding the working mother).


Meet The Real Superwoman


This is the first in a series of articles for and about working mothers.

By S. Jinaashini

After eight hours (and usually more) at the office, a working mother’s job is far from being over. In fact, her primary task is just beginning. Now she has to meet the needs of her child (or children), her husband, and the house. What kind of woman would want to put herself through all that stress?

There are two reasons why a woman would want to be a working mother. The first reason has to do with “career”. Some women were already in the workforce before marriage and before childbirth. She was probably doing well and has aspirations of greater success. Assuming that her husband is also gainfully employed, they therefore are able to afford alternative childcare arrangements. The second reason is a more practical one. Some mothers have either remained or re-joined the workforce because they need the second income. As expressed by several working mothers, it is challenging for single income families to cope with the rising cost of living. The challenge is made more daunting with the birth of the first child. This, understandably, makes it necessary for both parent to work. But regardless of the reason for joining the workforce, a working mother is subjected to enormous physical and emotional stresses.

In the process of helping to provide for the family, working mothers sacrifice quality time spent with their kids. And this is a great sacrifice indeed. (Tweet this) In the words of Ms Maria Francis, a working mother herself, “You miss your child’s little developments.” Many working mothers could probably identify with Maria who feels “I’m reduced to a fleeting shadow.”

The lack of interaction between working mothers and their children causes the them to feel guilty; guilty that she is not being the mother that she ought to be, guilty that she is depriving the child of a normal childhood. As I speak with working mothers, there is almost nothing that can help alleviate this feeling of guilt except to quit the job and be a stay-home mom again.

Being a working mother – in other words, being a full-time employee and a full-time mother at the same time – is no mean feat, as you probably can imagine. To balance family and work is both physically and mentally exhausting. Family and work both share the first position in her list of priorities. Mothers, when asked to rank work and family, will always be at a lost for words; “both of them are equal, there is no second position” is their most common answer. But while both are of equal importance, working mothers can only devote to their families less than half the time given to their work.

Working mothers as compared to working fathers seem to posses much more guilt and anxiety when having to juggle between work and family. But why is there this difference? Working fathers are often seen to be coming home after a day at work to wind down and relax unlike working mothers. As for working mothers as much as they want to relax as well, their maternal instincts does not allow for that to happen. These maternal instincts push them to carry out other activities upon reaching home to ensure the upkeep of the house as well as the safety and good upbringing of the children. All these extra work will eventually take a toll on a mother’s physical health. There is only so much a person can physically handle. How many of us even know about all these struggles faced by working mothers? Children, household, finances, marriage stability, career, elderly parents and much more, there is no end to the list of things on their mind.

All these make the words of Amanda, a working mother herself, a hundred percent true: “It takes an amazing amount of strength to be a mother”.

S. Jinaashini is studying Psychology Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore. We had the privilege of having her intern with us from March – July 2015.

Teaching Kids About Money Through Everyday Things

By Parcsen Loke

This is the second in the series of articles on Kids and Money.


Long before most children can add or subtract, they already have a concept of where money come from – the ATM, of course. Understanding that their parents have to earn their money through hard work requires a more mature mind. But gradually they will be able to connect the dots. They will understand why their dads (and mums too) have to leave the house everyday and be gone for many hours – because he has to go to a certain place and bring money home.

By age three, like my daughter, most children will know that things are bought with money. One day my two and a half year old daughter wanted something. When I told her that we did not have it she replied saying, “Then, buy it.” For the next twelve months, she would point at things like her clothes, her toys, her books, and ask, “Who bought this for me?” We would then reply, “Daddy bought this,” or “Mummy bought this.” We would try not to forget to add that it was by the grace of God that we had the money to buy it in the first place. We wanted to impress upon her that all good things come from our Father in Heaven above.

Teaching a child about money is not rocket science – it is a relationship.

Here are ten ways you can teach your child about money through the everyday things you do:

  1. Communicate with your child your values concerning money – how to save it, how to make it grow and, most importantly, how to spend it wisely. Don’t just tell them your ‘rags-to-riches’ story (if you have one to tell); tell them the principles and methods that contributed to your success.
  1. Help the child understand the difference between, needs, wants and wishes. This will prepare them to make good spending decisions in the future.
  1. Set goals with your child. Every toy or other item your child asks for can be turned into an object lesson on goal-setting. This will help the child learn to become responsible for themselves.
  1. Use regular trips to the market or store as opportunities to teach your child about the value of money. About a third of our take-home pay is spent on groceries and household items. Spending smarter (using coupons, shopping sales, and comparing unit prices) can save you a considerable amount of money each year. You can show your young ones how to plan economical meals so as to avoid wastes and use leftovers efficiently. When you take children to other kinds of stores, explain how to plan purchases in advance and make unit-price comparisons. Show them how to check for value, quality, repairability, warranty, and other consumer concerns.
  1. Evaluate TV, radio and print ads for products. Will a product really perform and do what the commercials say? Is a price offered truly a sale price? Are alternative products available that will do a better job, perhaps for less cost, or offer better value? Remind them that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  1. When using a credit card to make a purchase, take the opportunity to teach children about how credit cards work. Explain to the child that you are paying with money that is not yours when you use a credit card. Tell them about the uses and abuses of credit cards and warn them against credit card fraud.
  1. Discuss financial decisions as a family. This will model for your children the process that should be taken to make a purchase decision, especially a big one. They will learn not to buy on impulse all the time.
  1. Give allowance to your child in denominations that encourage saving. If the amount is $5, give them 5-1-dollar bills and encourage that at least one dollar be set aside in savings.
  1. Demonstrate the value of saving over spending. Explain and demonstrate the concept of earning interest income on savings. Consider paying interest on money your child saves at home; your child can help calculate the interest and see how fast money accumulates through the power of compound interest. Later on, he also will realize that the quickest way to a good credit rating is a history of regular, successful savings.
  1. Take your child to the bank and open an account for him. Opening a bank account is almost like a rite of passage for a child. It is an experience of a lifetime.

Parcsen Loke is the Deputy Director of Family Life First. He has been serving people and communities for more than 20 years, both locally and abroad. His is married to his wife Kelly and has three children ages 23, 21 and 10.