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Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd

Living the Life of a PSLE Parent

As the PSLE comes to a close this week, we share a very  practical read for all parents of school-going children.

Examination time is stressful not just for students, but for parents too.

Just last weekend, I found my son sitting quietly at his table with a frown on his face. While speaking to him, I discovered that the looming PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) was the reason for his distress. He was worried that there would be insufficient time to finish all he needed to do.

Indeed, he is just one of the many students all over Singapore gearing up in preparation for their year-end examinations, and it is common to hear about the stress they grapple with during this season. However, something not usually discussed is the fact that ordinary parents, like my spouse and I, are feeling the heat too. How can parents handle the stress effectively, so that they can equip their children to do likewise?

Keeping our emotions in check

First and foremost, here are some questions you can think about. Ask yourself, have I set conditions when it comes to loving my children? Does “Get these results or do this my way and then I will love you?” sound familiar? Such messages always undermine motivation. We may not say it outright, but do we subconsciously send such messages through our tone of voice or non-verbal signals?

Also, do we look to our children for “completion”, or do we try to live out our dreams through them? Such attitudes can put unnecessary pressure on us and more importantly, result in unfair expectations of our children.

Ultimately, children need to know they are loved with a non-judgmental love – we love them not because they are performing, but we love them in spite of anything and everything they may or may not do. I explained to my son that it is important he tries his best, but his worth will never be determined by how well he does for his examinations. He needed to know I would still love and support him, regardless of his results.

Breaking free from stress

Helping our children do their best academically does not necessarily entail harsh discipline and constant nagging. Learning and studying can be made fun too. In fact, fun is serious business for a happy family. Parents can, and should, create a positive atmosphere even during examination time. Going for a walk with our kids, playing a game of Happy Family, and even crazy ideas like camping in the living room can help them de-stress and relax. When our children are happy, they are more likely to be better learners, and you should enjoy an easier time teaching them.

Undoubtedly, stress will rear its ugly head at times, and the key is helping our children handle it well. It is important to remember that our job as parents is to help them deal with these stresses and emotions effectively rather than shelter them or dismiss these realities. We should keep a look out for symptoms of stress like headaches, stomachaches, depression and loss of appetite. Recognize that negative emotions can be opportunities for intimacy and teaching, where we can encourage open and candid conversation and let them feel understood.

As parents, we naturally want the best for our children. Equipping our children to do well in their examinations is important, but so is helping them become happy and effective learners not just in the school setting, but in life.

© 2015  Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Like what you just read? Focus on the Family Singapore sends out inspiration for family life and practical insights on different issues each month. If you would like to have it delivered to your inbox, please subscribe to their monthly newsletter.

Every Conversation Counts

Opposites attract they say. Rings especially true when we survey marriages around us. In many marital relationships, there seems to be one spouse who tends to be the talker and the other – the quieter one. For the talker, the effort needed to communicate seems completely one-sided and it can get rather tiring after a while.

At times, gender differences do explain why there is a disparity in the effort put in to communicate within a marriage. With no intention of stereotyping, the fact remains that most women tend to be more verbal than men. Many men gravitate towards showing love through deeds such as working hard and providing well for the family. But it would do both the man and woman good in a marriage, to go beyond that and find ways to really connect by speaking to each other more.

If you are in a similar situation we’ve just described, here are 5 steps to get your spouse to start talking more to you!

    1. Share your need for conversation with your spouse clearly and honestly but respectfully.
      Never assume that your spouse knows what you’re thinking. Make the effort to state clearly how much you would appreciate it if more conversations took place between the both of you so that you can connect on a more intimate level.


    1. Encourage your spouse when he does make the effort to talk to you.
      Be alert during your daily interactions with your spouse and when you sense him opening up and sharing more with you, don’t forget to show your appreciation. A smile, a stroke of his arm and a gentle nod as you listen, can help your spouse feel more at ease when speaking to you. Resist the urge to pass quick judgment on what he shares with you but instead ask leading questions that show you are making the effort to discover more about him and are genuinely interested in his views.


    1. Commit yourself to a 10-minute plan to just talk, read, listen and share with each other daily.
      Don’t give up even if it’s extremely tough at the beginning. Reading together from a marriage content-related book and experimenting with some of the communication tips shared, will not only add a fun dimension to your marriage but gives you the chance to put into practice some tried and tested tips which can really enhance the quality of conversations between you and your spouse.


    1. Turn routine activities into times of opportunity for great conversation.
      A trip to the supermarket, eating out, sending the kids to an enrichment class – these can double-up as wonderful opportunities for both enjoyable and meaningful conversations.Reminisce about your childhood days as you visit familiar eating places you both used to go to as children or dream up new recipes together as you wheel your shopping cart around the supermarket. Chat with your spouse like you would with a really good friend. Refrain from being “transactional” in your conversations. In other words, don’t restrict conversations to merely rattling off a long to-do list to your spouse and checking them off verbally if the task has been accomplished. Aim to inject more interesting topics into your conversations and watch your spouse open up to you.


  1. Keep a sense of humor in conversations.
    There is no need to have every conversation be an intense one where feelings are shared deeply and major issues are discussed in all seriousness. Keep reminding yourself that you and your spouse are a team who are able to work through issues hand-in-hand in a light-hearted manner. Together, you can get through it all. It just takes a little more patience and persistence.

Do not despair if you find yourself struggling to do any of the above. Consider how it might also be beneficial to get professional assistance to help you put the above ideas into practice. Feel free to contact us. Our staff would be delighted to provide you with a referral to a qualified counselor who will be able to journey with you and your spouse as you seek to connect more intimately in your marriage.

© 2015  Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Like what you just read? Focus on the Family Singapore sends out inspiration for family life and practical insights on different issues each month. If you would like to have it delivered to your inbox, please subscribe to their monthly newsletter.