Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Winter Child's Tale: KidsFest 2016 Giveaway of "Snow Child"

The dazzling beauty of autumn gives way to the harsh white of winter. As leaves fall and the foxes and wolves hide among the trees, a magical tale is told about family, love and the power of dreams.

Author Eowyn Ivey based her story around a series of Russian folk tales, and her story revolves around a lonely couple yearning for a child to call their own.

The wintry Christmas season is one of children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile. But for the couple life is not so. They build a small figure from the ice and snow, and wish very, very hard… until a little child emerges from the snow, right before their eyes!

But she’s a girl like no other. As she dances in the wild landscape and talks with the animals, she brings joy, fun and laughter to the whole village. But it’s not easy, bringing up a wild daughter of the blizzards and the wind. As the seasons turn, and winter gives way to spring, will the Snow Child and her parents find their “happily ever after”, or is their story merely a Winter's Tale?

Parenting on Purpose is pleased to partner with KidsFest to giveaway a set of 4 tickets for Snow Child. Tickets will be for the 5pm show on Friday 5 February 2016.

How to win:

1) Comment on this post and share with us why you love your family.
2) Like the Parenting on Purpose and KidsFest Singapore Facebook pages.
3) Share this blog post on your Facebook Wall and tag three friends. (Remember to ensure that privacy settings are set to "Public".)

The giveaway will end on Wed 3 Feb and entries must be submitted by 3pm.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Of Unicorns & the Power of Books: A KidsFest 2016 Giveaway of "I Believe in Unicorns"

What if..... unicorns really existed?

What if.... you actually got the chance to save a unicorn!

Michael Morpurgo’s powerful story I Believe in Unicorns comes alive this February in an exciting tale of imagination and adventure!

An enchanting and interactive production, the show won an Argus Angel Award for Artistic Excellence at the Brighton Festival in the UK.

And the show is coming to Singapore as part of KidsFest 2016, the international world-class theatre festival for kids and families.

This intimate show is set in a library full of books that hold more than stories within their pages. It is a tale of the power of books, and the bravery of a young boy called Tomas. Tomas hates reading and school, but his world is turned upside down the day he meets the Unicorn Lady in his local library...

Parenting on Purpose is pleased to partner with KidsFest to giveaway a set of 4 tickets for I Believe in Unicorns. Tickets will be for the 5pm show on Thursday 4 February 2016.

How to win:

1) Comment on this post and share with us why you love to read books.
2) Like the Parenting on Purpose and KidsFest Singapore Facebook pages.
3) Share this blog post on your Facebook Wall and tag three friends. (Remember to ensure that privacy settings are set to "Public".)

The giveaway will end on Tue 2 Feb and entries must be submitted by 3pm.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Of Yellow Ribbons & Fathers for Life - the Legacy of Jason Wong

Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the ole oak tree
It's been three long years
Do ya still want me
If I don't see a ribbon 'round the ole oak tree
I'll stay on the bus
Forget about us
Put the blame on me
If I don't see a yellow ribbon 'round the ole oak tree

The old folk song Tie A Yellow Ribbon is based on a delightful American story that tells of an ex-convict who returns home to his loved one after serving time in prison. Prior to his release, he had requested for her to tie a yellow ribbon around a tree outside of the town where she lived. And if there was no ribbon there, he would simply go on his way, understanding that she might never forgive him. However, when he passed by the tree, there were 100 yellow ribbons, symbolising that his sweetheart had forgiven him, and that he would be welcomed home.
Learning to love and accept one another.
The popular Yellow Ribbon Project is based on this premise. Founded in 2004 by Senior Prisons Officer Jason Wong, the campaign hopes to provide a greater awareness of the societal discrimination that ex-offenders face. It intends to get Singaporeans to support ex-offenders by providing encouragement and employment for them. Jason Wong, the Former Chief of Staff of the Singapore Prisons Services, shared that after working with prisoners for 17 years, he felt it was not enough to teach career skills to convicts.

“Even if we give a prisoner a skill, he might not get a job; even if we put him through anger management program, his wife might not forgive him; even if he is willing to leave his gang, he might not find new friends because of his tattooed body.”

What was needed was for society to give the ex-offender a second chance, in order to unlock the “second prison” of the mind. This metaphorical prison is not one with bars, but one filled with suspicion, mistrust and discrimination. And according to data from the Yellow Ribbon Project, more than 9,000 ex-offenders have to seek release from this “second prison” after their physical release from the various detention centres.

Jason Wong is not only known as the person who started the Yellow Ribbon Project. He is also credited with initiating the Dads for Life Movement. A former Senior Director at the then Ministry of Community Development Youth and Sports, Jason was deeply troubled by the brokenness of families in Singapore society. He noted that if the “hearts of fathers” were turned back to their children, that families would be strengthened; and that would in turn make Singapore strong.

Jason stressed that children need both fathers and mothers, and that most of the at-risk young people he had worked with did not have a father figure in their lives. This was either because they were absent or uninvolved; or that they had been abusive or violent. He therefore set up the Dads for Life Movement to get more fathers involved in the lives of their children.
Fathers need to play a more active role in the lives of their children from young.
That's how the relationship is built over time.
Why are fathers so important for the health of a family? It is because fathers and mothers play different roles in the family.

“Fathers are wired differently. Mothers buy toys for their children; fathers can act as toys – as a plane, horse, monster or Superman. Research shows children need such physical play. “

Jason suggested that while mothers protect their children by preventing them from getting hurt, fathers protect by preparing their children in order that they would not get hurt in the future.

What can fathers do if they want to be more involved? Jason advised for them to act as role models for their children, and to focus on character and values more than academic achievements. He also emphasised the importance of relationships, saying that the home is where children learn about relationships.
Fathers are key role models for their children. How they live their lives in the future
is often premised on how they see the way you live your life now.
“How you relate to your wife, and to your child, will determine how your child relates to you and others in future. Relationships are vital to influencing behaviour. Rules + Relationships = Response; Rules – Relationships = Rebellion.”

Jason is now Director of a new Non-Profit Organisation Honour (Singapore), set up to seek the wellbeing of Singapore by promoting a culture of honour and honouring. He shared in a recent interview three convictions that has guided his life:

  1.  Family is important. There is absolutely no point being a hero outside and a zero at home. 
  2. We have only one life to live. Live it well and make it count. 
  3. Give yourself to the next generation. Seek to leave behind a Singapore that is better than the one that we inherited from our fathers.
This article was shared with the Horizon magazine, which is intended to help young people develop a positive outlook in life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

5 Things About Fatherhood They Never Told You About

This is a peculiar list. The idea for the list was generated during an extended time in the Men's Room. And it wasn't even that I needed to be there; it was that I was summoned to stay there...
Always Daddy's boy! Daddies do all kinds of things with their kids;
from spending fun times with their children to encouraging them
when things get tough.

#5 - They never told you that you would have to stay in the Men's Room for more than half an hour at a time... in the middle of your lunch!

You would be enjoying a nice leisurely lunch; either tucking into the succulent main course or sipping the fragrant coffee that accompanied the dessert. Just as you begin to allow the pressures of the day to slip away, you hear a determined little voice, "Daddy, I need to go to the toilet." And so off you go, abandoning your meal and dragging along a little hand as you race to the nearest restroom. Then you would wait patiently as the little one finds a comfortable cubicle to settle in. 

The clock ticks and you think of the lunch you have left at the table; well you don't exactly think about it anymore as your appetite has been somewhat moderated by the new scents in the room. Once in a while you throw in the question, "Are you done yet?" And you sigh when you hear a "Not yet, Daddy. Can you wait for me?" After a couple of questions the little one finally finishes up and washes his hands, before running back to the table. By then the food has already turned cold and the coffee begins to taste like yesterday's brew.

#4 - They never told you that you would have to give up your favourite foods... (yes that last succulent piece of meat)!

You are already feeling slightly depressed by the menu choices you have had to make. With one son requesting for noodles and the other asking for rice, there're already not that many choices left (you have not eaten any spicy food for months as the children cannot eat much of it). So you sullenly carry the food back to the table where your wife and kids are eagerly waiting to eat. Just as the last word of the prayer is uttered, the boys hungrily wolf down the food you have dished out to them. After distributing the food, you look sadly at your own plate and the half-serving of food that is left there. 

As you begin to take a bite or two of the delicious food, you hear a sweet voice, "Daddy, may I have some more fried chicken, please?" So you spoon out a portion of the meat to the hungry child. Yet another voice rings in your ears. "Daddy, more vegetables, please." And so go the leafy vegetables. It's not long before you hear another voice,"Could I please have more chicken?" That was the last piece of meat you had on your plate; but as any father knows, you have already lost the right to the last piece. And so you say, "Sure. Daddy loves you." You smile sadly at your wife, and you finish up the rest of the rice and whatever is left of the noodles.
The younger child can't keep his hands off meat. He is also a lover of
specialised food such as cheeses, soft-boiled egg, roasted garlic and capsicum!
The older boy has a simpler taste for hotdogs and pasta. He will however
polish off an entire plate of vegetables and slurp up a whole bowl of soup!

#3 - They never told you that you would get to watch fewer movies... (or that your last movie would be in Cantonese)!* 

Captain America: Winter Soldier. When did that movie end? Jurassic World. Hmm... I remember someone saying something about that show. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Now that's a movie I really wanted to watch. To be transported back to the magical land of Middle Earth - a Tolkien fan's dream. But unfortunately that never came to pass. All a father can remember is that before you have an opportunity for a movie date, the show would already have ended its run in Singapore... 

As a father, you can count the number of movies you watch in a year with the fingers in one hand. So it will be with great anticipation that you plan a special movie date to celebrate your wife's birthday - a surprise romantic time alone with her in Johor Bahru - away from the children. So you go to the counter and you buy tickets for Inside Out, one of the must-see movie of the year. Of course you notice the small "C" at the end of the movie title, but this doesn't fully register in your mind. Things only begin to get a little strange when you hear the characters speaking in Cantonese. So you grin goofily at your wife and laugh along all-knowingly as Ah Loy and Ah Sao (Joy and Sadness) carry on their merry adventure inside the mind of teenage Wiley (Riley).

*Most of this post was written before we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens - so technically that was the last movie we got to watch!

#2 - They never told you how little sleep you would get... especially when bedtime can last for more than an hour!

Bedtime is an important ritual for the kids which begins with choosing what pyjamas to wear.
Oftentimes choosing the pyjamas itself is the highlight of the night; not to mention the other rituals
such as the bedtime story, Bible story and prayer.
It's bedtime. Your wife has finished reading their last bedtime story. The kids have watched their last music appreciation videoclip or sang a song to worship God. You're now all ready to carry out the last few bedtime rituals before retiring to bed with your wife. So you usher your kids into the bathroom and get their teeth brushed. Then it's time to get them into the room and to switch on the essential oil diffuser - they always enjoy a whiff of lavender to help them wind down. You then switch off the lights and start telling them a Bible story - whether it's about David and Goliath or about Noah's Ark. Finally it's time for bedtime prayers and a special blessing for each child. So you kiss each son on his forehead and gingerly leave the room, making a special effort to close your door carefully to keep things quiet and conducive for bed.

Just as you connect the DVD player and prepare for a lovely investigative crime drama, the door bursts open suddenly and the older boy rushes into the room. "I need to use the toilet," he declares, and dashes right away to do his thing. Then you hear the toilet flushing and the tap running. "Good night, Mummy and Daddy," he says, before shutting the door and returning to his room. So you breathe a sign of relief and start to settle down. But not before the door creaks open and you see the younger one gingerly approaching you. 

"Can I sleep in your room tonight?" he asks ever so politely. 

"No, please go back and sleep," comes the well-practiced reply. 

"But Daddy, there are bad soldiers in the room." 

"No, there are no bad soldiers."

"Bad soldiers with guns?"

"No, no bad soldiers with guns."

"How about the scary spiders in the room?"

"There are no scary spiders, little one."

"How about dinosaurs? Sea stars? Scary butterflies? And I'm afraid I will trip over the stalagmites."

"Don't worry E, there are no dinosaurs, sea stars and scary butterflies. And no, you won't trip over the stalagmites. Go and sleep ok?"


And the little one saunters back into the room, content that he had dealt with the scary butterflies and their like.

So you breathe a sigh of relief. But not for long.

"Mummy, can you please pray for me?" The older one apparently returns with a single agenda on his mind.

"Sure Z, let's pray....."

So you finally send the older child back to the room, thankful that the bedtime ritual has finally come to an end. That is, until the next night...

#1 - They never told you how much you would enjoy being a father (and that you would cherish every special moment)!

Some things are priceless; such as the time that you spend with your children.
Yes, there would be numerous occasions when you child is sick and you have to tend to a vomiting kid and change the sheets; or there would be countless times when you have to miss out or be late for appointments because of a temper tantrum or an emotional meltdown. Yes, the peaceful life between you and your wife would never be the same again and you would likely spend much of your time together shopping for your children or planning things for them to do. And yes, family holidays would now take the form of water play playgrounds, zoos, farms and other kid-friendly locations. 

What is the strangest thing about being a father is that you will grow into the role; and more - you will even love to be a father! 

It's those special moments at night when you sneak back into the kids' room to check on them, and you see them sleeping so tenderly; and the times when your son chooses his shirt and tells you that he wants to be "just like Daddy". But the moment that every Daddy longs for and cherishes is the moment when he walks into the house and sees a huge smile on the faces of his children; and when they throws caution to the wind and run up to Daddy, engulfing him with a big hug - that's the moment that makes everything worthwhile. "I'm home, Boys. Daddy's home!"
Do you see what he sees?  Are you the person he wants to be?