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Old 3rd June 2010, 07:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Are our kids spoilt?

Are our kids spoilt?

Parents, teachers and experts respond to letter about 'spoilt princesses'

Thu, Jun 03, 2010
The New Paper

THIS Singaporean father readily admits that he pampers his only daughter.

Mr Tay Tze Siong, 43, and his wife Amy, 39, buy lots of toys for six-year-old Yu Ning.

The doting parents, who live in a Hougang condominium, have a maid who tends to Yu Ning's every need, which includes tying her shoelaces, filling her water bottle when it's empty, helping her cut her nails and carrying her school bag.

Are doting parents like Mr Tay doing a disservice to their children by spoiling them?

A letter in The Straits Times Forum on Wednesday blamed Singapore's declining birth rate on children these days being spoilt by their parents.

Letter writer Sulthan Niaz wrote: "We have raised a nation of spoilt princesses unwilling and unable to handle the rigours of motherhood."

Mr Niaz argued that this is because many households employ maids, which leave the children "clueless about household chores".

He added that boys at least have National Service to teach them a thing or two about being a responsible adult.

But he said that girls, after being spoilt and pampered, are left without the parenting skills needed in later life.

Mr Niaz was responding to an earlier letter by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), which suggested that Singapore's fertility rate is at an all-time low because fathers are not rising to the task of child-rearing.

Up in arms

Not surprisingly, bloggers and netizens are up in arms over Mr Niaz's controversial statements.

As exaggerated as his conclusion may be, is there some truth in Mr Niaz's comments?

The New Paper spoke to three parents who said they hardly allow their kids to do any housework at home as they have maids.

On Thursday, The New Paper visited two primary schools and saw many maids, grandparents and parents carrying the students' bags, water bottles, files and books.

Retiree Peter Cho, 62, carried his 11-year-old grandson's backpack when he picked up the Primary Five boy at Pei Chun Public School in Toa Payoh on Thursday.

"I am afraid he might develop a hunch so that is why I carry the bag. He is very tired," he said.

A maid, Yu Yun, 25, was carrying two big backpacks - one strapped to her chest and the other on her back.

She also carried an umbrella to shelter her employer's two children, aged 10 and 12, from the sun.

The petite woman said: "I am just doing my job.

My madam didn't tell me to do it. They are not too heavy for me."

The older boy, a well-built Primary Six student, said: "I'm too tired to carry it."

Teachers said they have problems dealing with primary school children as their parents are spoiling them too much.

One primary school teacher who wanted to be known only as Ms Chris, 34, said: "Some parents will insist on standing outside the school gate to feed their children. Some of these children are eight or nine years old.

"When children are spoilt like this, they also expect to be spoon-fed in their schoolwork. They want all the answers given to them. They are not inclined to figuring it out on their own."

But two child experts The New Paper spoke to said it is unfair to simply blame parents as some have no choice but to rely on maids and grandparents to help raise their children.

Child expert and veteran counsellor Sam Kuna said: "This is just the nature of parenting in Singapore. Mothers have to work and rely on maids to raise their children.

"That doesn't mean all parents are not raising their children properly. It is just how Singapore society has evolved."

But Mr Kuna, 55, the dean of the School of Counselling at TCA College, cautioned that there is a danger children are not being disciplined properly today and might not learn life skills to become independent.

He said: "Maids are hired to take care of the child and not parent the child, and most of the time they are just doing their job. They might not have the authority to discipline the child."

On grandparents, he said: "They might have been strict with their own children and now they might want to just pamper their grandchildren." To instil the right values in their children, Mr Kuna said that parents must not just teach but also practise these values.

Role models

"They must be good role models. There are ways to do this, even if the parents are working." (See report at right.)

But Mr Tay, a business communications assistant manager, feels that he is justified in pampering his only child.

He said: " She is only six years old. Pampering our kid is a way of showing our love, because sometimes, we do feel we were neglected by our parents when we were younger."

Mr Tay said he grew up in a poor family.

"My parents were not highly educated and I didn't have the chance to do a lot of things. We want our kid to get the best she deserves."

Besides buying her toys, they have also signed her up for a slew of courses - piano, ballet, inline skating, swimming and abacus.

But Mr Tay insists that he and his wife do "set limits" for Yu Ning.

He said: "We try to teach and encourage Yu Ning to do things for herself.

"For example, we tell her, 'you can play with your toys, but you have to keep them yourself after that, and not leave them strewn on the floor'."

They have also driven her to the Salvation Army headquarters to donate some of her toys to charity.

"It's about setting a good example, she should give away toys she doesn't want any more to unfortunate kids who have no money to buy them."

Mr Tay said Yu Ning treats their domestic helper like a family member rather than a maid.

Learning to be independent Other parents said that while they have maids, they try to teach their children to be independent.

Said pharmacist Joyce Lim, 35, who has a seven- year-old son and a five-year-old daughter: "When I send my son to school, about once or twice a week, he carries his own bag. I also tell my maid she doesn't have to carry his bag. He needs to learn to be independent."

Mr Henry Chua, 36, who works in the F&B industry, said parents want to teach their children the "right things" and give them the "necessary skills" in life.

"But some 'overdo' it, and then it becomes pampering," he said.

He and his finance executive wife Marilyn, 33, have two daughters, Sherallyn, five, and Sharlyn, three.

"My kids have been helping to put away the dishes and lay the table before meals. When they're older, I want them to wash their own dishes."

Responding to Mr Niaz's letter, Aware executive director Corinna Lim agreed that children are likely to be pampered these days.

But she disagreed that Singapore is raising a nation of spoilt princesses.

She said: "I don't think the fact that the young women of today grew up with more pampered lives than before has anything to do with whether or not they choose to get married.

"They should not be unfairly labelled 'spoilt princesses' just because they do not choose motherhood."


Veteran counsellor Sam Kuna shares how parents can involve children in household chores
  1. Start early. Let your children, as young as five or six, enter the kitchen to watch you work. At this age, they are curious and open to learning.
  2. Practise it. Parents should do housework sometimes even if they have a maid. Their kids will watch and learn from them and be inspired to pick up some tips.
  3. Do not exclude children from housework. Parents who are busy in the kitchen should not tell their children to go away. The children might get the wrong message that they do not belong in the kitchen.
  4. Don't scold your children. When you show children the right way to do something, don't scold them. Tell them nicely how to improve what they did. Scolding will just turn them off.


"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth". - 1 John 3:18
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Old 8th June 2010, 12:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Are our kids spoilt?

yes..agree... singapore and other country also...

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Old 16th June 2010, 09:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Are our kids spoilt?

the newer generation are being too pampered

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Old 16th June 2010, 09:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Are our kids spoilt?

Aye to the thread topic, and i'm lazy to give a whole long commentary (rainy day haha!) on whether our younger generation are spoilt. But thing is, the cane should never go extinct!

One should not yearn what he cant earn
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