Parent-child relationships build families


A young boy is sitting on the ground and scared. There are legs in the foreground to represent abuse fear or a bully.

Many of the clients that we see at Tampines Family Service Centre have complicated family backgrounds. They face multiple challenges, including
financial distress, emotional and mental health issues, marital conflicts, housing issues and family conflicts. During times of distress, it is easy for the families to fall apart. To help families become more resilient in managing and overcoming their challenges, it is important for the family to be empowered. The parent-child relationship is key.

Nurturing emotionally healthy children
Every person has four basic emotional needs. These needs are usually met through parents, resulting in emotionally healthy children with strong relationships with their parents.
Need for security
Our children feel secure when:
◆ Parents express love to each other
◆ Parents are consistently at home
◆ Parents frequently and consistently show love to them

Need for love
Our children feel loved when:
◆ They are convinced they have value
◆ Parents take time to bond with them
◆ Innocent mistakes are not punished, but are seen as teaching

Need for affirmation
Our children thrive when they:
◆ Are praised for who they are, not what they can do
◆ Hear words that build them up

Need for purpose
Our children find direction when:
◆ Parents take time to build up their self-confidence
◆ Parents dream with them

The five negative parenting characteristics
Unfortunately, there are no perfect parents, and no child has a perfect childhood. Even with the best of intentions, love is often misrepresented, and misinterpreted. This has negative impacts on the child, unless love is re-established.

Generally, there are five characteristics parents exhibit to different degrees that have a negative impact on their children.

The Performance-oriented parent
In such a home, there is little to no room for failure. The child is either accepted or rejected according to his or her achievements. If the child fails to achieve, he or she will be bound by shame, regret, rejection and an inferiority complex. If she strove and achieved, she may become so proud that her identity is found in what she can do, not who she is.

The Passive parent
In this home, there is little expressed love, or any other feelings. The child may grow up to become shy or insecure, and emotionally stunted.

The Authoritarian parent
There is little room for grace, as it is more like an institution of dos and don’ts than a home. As a result, the child grows up in a place that would
not be described as safe or a place of acceptance.

The Abusive parent
All the characteristics described above are abusive to a certain degree. Parents who are abusive physically, mentally, emotionally, or even sexually, raise children who are likely to have difficulties in trusting others, and may lead them to a life of promiscuity, drug or alcohol abuse.

The Absentee parent
In such a home, the child is left with deep-seated thoughts of the little or no value he or she has in the eyes of others. In response, he or she may
turn to false comforts such as alcohol, drugs, sex, eating disorders, shopping or even work.

Ten suggestions to empower your family
If you can identify with some of these negative characteristics or are
wondering how to meet the four basic needs better, here are some suggestions that you can consider to empower your family.

1. Spend time thinking about the ways love was misrepresented to each family member
2. Create a page in your notebook for each family member and write down your thoughts and memories
3. Set aside some time for each family member that is convenient for their schedule
4. Begin by telling them how you have remembered misrepresenting love to them
5. Share some of your generational history and where you came from
6. Share how pain from your childhood, youth, and adulthood affected your relationship with them
7. Tell them “you have not been the problem”
8. Ask forgiveness for specific actions that brought them pain
9. Express the desire you have for them to enjoy their lifetime
10. Say to them “You are now free from my past offenses against you”

To know more about MWS family services, please contact
* Tampines Family Service Centre (FSC) Email: admin@tampines.mws.org.sg;
Tel: 6787 2001
* Covenant FSC Email: admin@covenant.mws.org.sg; Tel: 6282 8558
* Daybreak FSC Email: admin@daybreak.mws.org.sg; Tel: 6756 4995

Content from Bob and Kelly Parr’s teaching materials were used with permission in this article. Bob and Kelly Parr from Freedom Quest International conducted Family Empowerment training sessions with counsellors and social workers from Tampines Family Service Centre so that they can become better family and parenting educators.

Mr Joachim Lee has been Director of Tampines Family Service Centre for the past nine years. He is also a trained counsellor.