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Things Helpers and Nannies say to Children (So They’ll Obey)

22 September 2014 – 4:33 pm | 3 Comments

I was sitting all alone when I noticed a 3-year-old boy walking out of a hall, with his nanny (in uniforms) a few steps behind him.
The boy then made a turn and slowly walked further …

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Outdoor Activities for Families: More Possible in Singapore than in Jakarta, But …

26 September 2014 | Posted in: Daily | No Comment


When I compare how Anya and Vai grew up in Singapore and how Brie started living in Jakarta at the age of 10 months, I notice something different.

Brie has SOOO much less exposure to the outdoors here in Jakarta.

1. She doesn’t walk as much as Anya and Vai did back in Singapore

We could spend the whole day walking and taking the buses/trains when we’re in Singapore, while we travel mostly by car here in Jakarta.



2. She misses out on a wide variety of different activities we had when we’re in Singapore.

Back in Singapore, we could watch street performances along Orchard Road. We’d watch live stage plays, even free art performances at Sentosa Island.

We could go to museums and nice libraries, spend the whole day at Sentosa, and the kids could easily enjoy water plays at those nice playgrounds at the malls or parks.

Anya and Vai could rollerblade/cycle by the beach, and they rode their bike/scooter everyday to the nearby market.

We could do all these, anytime of the week if we wanted to.




I soooo miss those.

And I feel bad that Brie had to miss out on those too.

You see, as much as we’d love to, we can’t have such a lifestyle here in Jakarta, because … such a lifestyle simply is not possible.

eg. We can’t walk around with the kids safely and conveniently. We are mostly indoors. Nicely maintained and free children play areas outdoors are hard to find.

And, although we do have beautiful outdoors (paddy-fields, etc) here in Indonesia, braving the traffic to go out of Jakarta is a big turn-off for us (read: More possible if done during the school holiday, not quite on a normal ‘weekend’)




I tell myself, we need to accept what we have.

And, most importantly, be thankful for the many things we now have that we didn’t have back in Singapore.

eg. Kids spending more time with their aunts, uncles, grandparents. Cheap food. The school our kids go to. Our ministries. Etc.

We could always complain about everything. BUT, we could also be thankful for many, MANY thingsI mean, we could always complain about everything.

BUT, we could also be thankful for many, MANY things.

Plus, I believe God has a beautiful purpose for everything, and our family is in Jakarta for a reason.

So, I choose to learn to do the latter.

To learn and be thankful.

And btw, we decided to get Brie a scooter last week =)

Because well, if she can’t ride a bike to nearby markets like Anya and Vai did back in Singapore, at least she gets to ride her little scooter here and there? =)

*Learning to appreciate simple things in life, as a family*

Have a nice weekend, everyone!


Things Helpers and Nannies say to Children (So They’ll Obey)

22 September 2014 | Posted in: Inspirational, Parenting | 3 Comments


I was sitting all alone when I noticed a 3-year-old boy walking out of a hall, with his nanny (in uniforms) a few steps behind him.

The boy then made a turn and slowly walked further away from the hall (a children party was happening inside)

Then I noticed this:

Nanny: *stern voice* Eh! There’s a clown there! Don’t go there!

Boy : *stopped walking for a few seconds, and continued to walk away from the hall*

Nanny :  Eh eh! The clown is there! He will catch you! Come this way!

Boy : *stopped, turned and walked towards the hall, following the nanny*

To some people, this scenario may totally be okay and acceptable.

Because, the nanny is simply trying to get the boy to obey her, to stop venturing out further away from the party where he’s supposed to be.

And you know what, such a scenario (between young children and their helpers/nannies) IS indeed common, isn’t it?

I’ve even personally seen a helper spoon-feeding a 3-4 year old girl, and when the child didn’t quite open her mouth, or when she ate rather slowly, the helper said things like:

… Hurry up and eat your food lah! Police coming!

… Quick! Open your mouth! Or satan will come and take you!

… Eat faster! Mommy coming! She’ll beat you!


Yes, I’ve heard those – loud and clear – with my own ears.



What is wrong with the above, some may wonder.

Well, everything, if you ask me.

Here are some of my personal thoughts on this:

> Young children believe what adults say to them. Adults are their source of ‘truth’. So naturally, everything that they’re exposed to (words and actions) will somewhat shape and influence them in one way or another.

> In the above scenarios, the helper said those things to get the child to OBEY.

And, the easiest and fastest way to get a young child’s attention and obedience is through … fear and threat, isn’t it?

I mean, yes, the use of fear and threat will most likely get the child to obey and do what you ask them to do, BUT :

- This also means the child is subjected to unnecessary lies, fears and false images of many things

A police is out to catch little children who don’t obey their nanny?

Clown is scary and can take you away?

Satan is near you and will take you if you don’t eat quickly?

Daddy will later come home from work and beat you?

And it’s not a surprise if, as the child grows bigger, the nanny / helper uses bigger lies and threats to get them to obey


My heart goes out to all young children who are subjected to such fear and lies, day in and day out =(



Helpers / nannies are not our children’s parents. We are.Many children here in Jakarta (and I guess, around the world too?) get the best toys and the most fun birthday celebrations, … but day to day, are they spending most of their time with people who resort to lies and threats in their attempt to have control over the child?

To parents who engage nannies / helpers to care for the children everyday, may I ask some quick questions (which I hope serve as a reminder to us parents):
- How much time does your nanny / helper spend each day with your child?
(because young children are truly like sponges, absorbing everything around them)
- Are you aware of HOW your nanny / helper gain control over your child?
(eg. What do they say/do when your child disobey? What do they do to get your child to obey? In many cases, helpers/nannies are ‘helpless’ without their threats, because … the kids often simply don’t listen to them)
- Does your child look for the nanny / helper for information and help, more than they ask you, the parents?
(Is the child closer physically and emotionally to the helper/nanny? Does the helper/nanny override your decisions, even secretly perhaps?)



Raising children is not easy, isn’t it?

One thing I always remind myself though : God gave our children to US, so it is only natural that we the parents are the ones with the calling to PARENT our children.

ie. WE are the ones with the big responsibility to raise, guide and educate our children, according to God’s ways.

Helpers / nannies are not our children’s parents.

We are.

And here’s another thing: Parenting is never about paying for the children’s meals, school and tuitions.

It’s not about giving the best toys.

Nor is it about throwing the best birthday parties.

It’s about giving our TIME, our attention, and taking the initiatives to be actively involved in raising our children, since day one.

Yes, however hard and tough our parenting days can be.

May God help us all, and give us the patience, joy and wisdom we all need everyday, to be the kind of parents HE wants us to be.

Because, as we all know, parenting is never easy.

PS: All four photos in this post were shared on my Instagram, taken in 2011 – 2014. Treasuring family moments with the kids.

Car Rides : Our Opportunity to Build that Communication Habit with the Kids

16 September 2014 | Posted in: Inspirational, Parenting | No Comment


Here in Jakarta, I find myself ‘stuck’ in car rides (and traffic) with the kids a LOT. Everyday.

And this, naturally, can be draining. For the mom. Who is also the driver.

Like when the older ones bicker, or when the youngest one whines and cries over unreasonable matters (if you’re a parent, you’ll know what I mean =)

But, having said that, I must say that car rides offer a great opportunity for us to discuss many, many issues, correct wrong thinking, and instill values in the kids.

I mean, since everyone is ‘trapped’ in the car for a period of time, we might as well use that time to build a habit of talking and sharing with each other, yes? =)



In our case, the conversation topics can be about anything really.

Sometimes they’d re-tell stories/jokes they read from books at the library.

Often, they share the happenings at school. eg. What their teachers say in class, what they play during recess, how their friends respond towards another friend’s work, etc.

I hope they too get the message that I’m interested in their lives, not merely in their ‘academic results’Btw, since each child started going to nursery school, I made it a habit for them to ‘share their day’ as soon as they see me after school. Also, I ask not only about their homework or tests, but more about their day : what happened to their friends, how they feel about their teachers’ reactions, how they feel about certain subjects that day, etc. And I learn to just, listen.

And if they did anything wrong at school, I’ve personally asked them to tell me about it, as I’d appreciate THAT better than hearing about it from others or their teachers.

All this is just my personal way of nurturing a habit of open communication and sharing with the parents since young. And I hope they too get the message that I’m interested in their lives, not merely in their ‘academic results’.

Car rides offer a great opportunity for us to discuss many, many issues, correct wrong thinking, and instill values in the kidsAnyway. Back to the kids.

Sometimes, they ask us random questions too, eg. ‘Why are there beggars on the street of Jakarta’, or ‘Why my friends did THAT at school and no one told them off?’, ‘Why do we have to study THAT subject at school’, etc =)

And, most of the time, we share values and principles with them too, … like, adults and teachers can make mistakes too, why looking after your brother and sister is super important, how we should feel confident when doing the right things, and how we should never stop learning, including Mommy and Daddy who must continually learn too.

When the TV is ‘regularly’ switched on soon after the kids enter the car, there goes our precious opportunities to talk and communicate with them.Anyway.

I just want to say it again: car rides are really OUR opportunity as parents to build that communication habit with the kids.

Which, btw, is why we personally disagree with having TVs or portable DVD players in the car.

I mean, we all for sure know how such ‘technology’ can easily ‘entertain’ the kids sitting at the back seat (allowing us adults to rest and talk about OUR topics with less interruptions from them).




Whether we realise it or not, when the TV is ‘regularly’ switched on soon after the kids enter the car, there goes our precious opportunities to talk and communicate with them.

I mean, the kids can’t go anywhere once they’re inside our car, yes?

So why should we let go off such a precious opportunity to share values, chat and know them better?

(Btw, if it is a looong car ride, eg. A 4-hour drive out of town or something, then I guess, watching TV during the car ride helps them ‘kill time’? I don’t know. I mean, I personally wonder, … doesn’t watching TV while the car is moving give you a headache?)

Ah anyway.

Just sharing a personal thought on this.

And me, … I am learning to be thankful.

Learning to be thankful for daily moments where we can exchange thoughts and simply … chat, with the kids.

Yes, even though being stuck in mad traffic everyday is frankly NOT a choice I’d love to make =)

PS: Photos were safely taken when we’re at a complete stop (read: stuck in a traffic jam =)

Parenting : Encouraging Helpfulness, Instilling Independence, Building Self-Esteem

11 September 2014 | Posted in: Inspirational, Parenting | 2 Comments


Brie is now 3 years and 3 months old.

And for the past few months, she’s been an active helper whenever we are at a restaurant or a supermarket =)

“She’s still so small, what does she do exactly?”, some did ask me personally.


Well, here are some examples of the things she’s been doing:

1. At a restaurant

- Goes to the cashier and asks for the bill from the staff

(only when the cashier is within a good distance, ie. Where we can still watch her)

- Goes over to the cashier with the cash and bill (usually accompanied by sister / brother if they’re around)

- Gives us the change

- Orders the drinks (verbally to the waiter/waitress)

(It’ll be a simple, ‘Sir, one Teh Botol, please. Thank you.’ =)


2. At a supermarket

- Goes over to the weighing station and gives the plastic bag / vegetables to be weighed

- Waits for the staff to give her back the bag, gives the bag to me

- Arranges (tidies up) the stuff we buy (while she’s inside the trolley)

- Picks up the stuff from the trolley (while standing inside the trolley) and places them onto the cashier counter

- Gives the ATM card to the cashier staff, receives the receipt and passes it to me

(Btw, Anya and Vai also were introduced to such activities since they’re little. And by now, they help by picking the groceries I need to get, etc)




“Why would you introduce your small child to such activities?”, some ask.

Let’s see.

Here are some values and principles that we hope to instill in our children:

> Letting children feel a positive sense of achievement

When Brie successfully completes a task, and sees a big smile on my face, I can see how proud and happy she feels. It’s like, ‘Wow! I’ve helped Mommy! I could do it!’


> Allowing them to gain more confidence when speaking to strangers (eg. Restaurant staff), and communicating their requests clearly to others

When a waiter actually understands their request and gives them what they ask (eg. Two packets of tomato sauce at McDonald’s), I can see their confidence in themselves increases. It’s like, ‘Whoa! They listened and understood me!’

These things may seem simple, but they matter a lot to little children and their self-esteem.



> Instilling a sense of responsibility and the need to help others

We hope our children always feel: “I need to take part and help out others, too.”

(Especially since it doesn’t always come naturally!)

When they see how others are ‘positively impacted’ by their ‘helpful actions’, we believe it will encourage them to help others more and more. We hope.


> Letting them exercise good manners

Through such activities, the kids really do learn about queuing up, waiting for their turn, about thanking the staff upon receiving help, saying ‘please, etc.

Children are never ‘too young’ to learn such values, … yes?


[3.5yo Vai ordering his ice cream cone on his own]


> Instilling independence since young

I must say, sometimes we parents ‘underestimate’ the abilities of little children, don’t we? So much so that we often ‘disallow’ them from doing much for themselves and for others.

Basically, the question is: do we often discourage them from contributing much to the family?

In our family, we believe that our children, since young, need to learn how wonderful it is to be independent, to do things themselves, … because it also means they’re helping others, eg. When Brie puts her clothes on by herself before going out, she’s also giving Mommy the time to get ready before going out).

Btw, here are some past blog posts on this topic that I’ve written:

> Parenting: Encouraging Responsibility and Independence


> Parenting: Letting children do their own stuff


> Getting kids involved around the house


> Parenting: Encouraging kids to help out around the house (Part 1)


> Parenting: Encouraging kids to help out around the house (Part 2)

Happy parenting, everyone! =)

Parenting : How Gadget Play in Children Starts to become an Issue

13 November 2013 | Posted in: Parenting | 4 Comments

Someone once shared with me this thought:
Playing, holding and placing actual 3D puzzle pieces stimulates a child cognitively and mentally, which unfortunately CANNOT be done through playing puzzles across the flat screen of a gadget.
And …

Making : Despicable Me – Minion Fondant Cake for Vai’s 7th Birthday!

29 August 2013 | Posted in: Daily, Food & Health, Parenting, Photography | 10 Comments
vai_minion fondant_final

Okay. Get ready for one big pictorial post on Vai’s recent 7th birthday! =)
First, let me start by saying, our son – the middle child – had his birthday last week.
And just like what I’ve …

On being a Dad

17 June 2007 | Posted in: Parenting | No Comment

Daddies, generally being the busy ones working, tend to spend less time with the kids. Naturally.
And this usually means they miss out on witnessing many of the children’s firsts – milestones – like the time …

Thoughts: ‘Always’ and ‘Never’

28 October 2011 | Posted in: Inspirational, Marriage & Relationships | 2 Comments

“You NEVER listen to me!”
“He is ALWAYS very rude!”
“Why did you behave that way? You’re ALWAYS making me angry!”
“I can NEVER do it!”

I don’t know about you, but Wilson and I – since our dating …

The facts of being married

26 February 2005 | Posted in: Marriage & Relationships | No Comment

This was Wilson’s conversation with the guy who cut his hair the other day:
Guy: Oh, so you’re married already? *really suprised* You would’nt have done it so early if you had the choice, would you?
Wilson: …

Sunday’s Food for Thought – Spouse’s strengths and weaknesses

28 October 2007 | Posted in: Inspirational, Marriage & Relationships | No Comment
Sunday’s Food for Thought – Spouse’s strengths and weaknesses

Many people enter marriage with idealistic thoughts of how a marriage ‘should be’.
That there’ll be hardly any arguments. That all exchanged words will always be romantic and sweet. That the home will always be neat …