Mum vs Dad: How do their parenting styles differ?

By Income, 20 September 2018 887

Couples often have different priorities when it comes to raising their kids. But despite their differences, they ultimately want the best for their children. This is no exception for Evelyn Wu and Shahnawaz Saleem, proud Singaporean parents to three daughters, Nadia, 9, Natasha, 6 and Nadira, 19 months.

"We are totally like yin and yang, very different", says Shah, when describing his and his wife's parenting styles. According to Shah, the differences stem from several factors. Growing up, Evelyn, 39, studied at elite schools while Shah, 43, went through the normal academic programme. And while Evelyn comes from a large family, Shah, an only child, was raised by his mother and grandfather.

Parenting Approach: Studies focused vs Experience focused


The nature of their careers also plays a critical role in their parenting styles. As a secondary school teacher and educator, Evelyn takes charge of their children's education.

Shah, whose job as a sales manager requires him to travel at least 50% of the time, focuses more on family activities, such as taking the children out for dinner and movies. "Every single little moment I have with my kids back here in Singapore is very precious to me, so when I'm here, I will usually bring them out for fun activities," says Shah.

One of the biggest conflicts the parents face is in deciding which activities their children should excel in. Evelyn sees things to be "very academic", says Shah. "For me, I'll always just go with the flow."

"Shah makes learning fun. But for me, I'm very straight," admits Evelyn.

But what Evelyn loves most about her relationship is Shah is their open communication style. "We give each other the chance to discuss what exactly we want our children to go through," she says. Before making any important decisions for their children, Evelyn and Shah also involve their children, to ensure that the kids feel ownership and are empowered in making decisions that involve them. They also encourage their children to try out many different activities, in order to discover what they love to do best.

"Whatever we are doing right now is basically to prepare them for the life ahead," Shah says. To gear their children up for the future, Evelyn and Shah want to be able to provide their children with a sound financial status and at the same time, equip them with the right knowledge to be able to make good decisions.

It is heartwarming to see both parents work through their differences, reach a common consensus and agree upon a parenting decision for their children. While the road ahead for their daughters appears brightly-lit and seemingly filled with amazing possibilities, here are a few concerns Evelyn and Shah have:  

1) Protecting their family from chronic diseases

Evelyn and Shah both have chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. As they grow older, they will become more vulnerable to age-related illnesses and deteriorating health.

To better protect their family, Evelyn and Shah try to arm themselves with as much knowledge of their illnesses as possible. They have also purchased insurance policies so that if either of them falls ill, they do not have to worry about dipping into their savings to pay for medical expenses. This safety net also helps to protect the family from a potential loss of income.

Because of their family's history of diabetes and asthma, Evelyn and Shah make a conscious effort to nurture their kids' interest in sports from a young age, to ensure that they keep fit and healthy. Today, Nadia plays basketball competitively for her school and Shah often accompanies her for training. The two frequent have play-offs. It's a great bonding activity which also keeps the family fit.

2) Ensuring financial protection for retirement

In a recent survey by Nielson commissioned by Income, it is revealed that 80% of parents will not have enough savings to tide themselves through retirement years, and only 6% are confident of maintaining their current lifestyle when they retire. On average, Singaporeans retire with savings of about S$370,000, while in reality, they will need around S$800,000 to have a comfortable monthly retirement allowance of S$3,314. Considering this economic outlook and individual financial capabilities, only 8% of youths are very confident in supporting their elderly parents during retirement years and as a result most forsee themselves sacrificing their personal lifestyle, hobbies and job opportunities.

Evelyn and Shah are taking steps in the right direction. Instead of spending all of their savings on the children's enrichment programmes or on fancy family vacations, they are saving up for their retirement. A shift in priority to their own retirement, can empower their children to pursue their dreams in the future.

"I need to prepare to make myself self-sufficient," says Shah. "By the time I'm retired, my kids will be in their 20s. They will be only beginning their career. I want them to focus on that first before they focus on us."

With watchful eyes over their girls, what Evelyn and Shah are providing is the freedom for their children to find their way into the future, to be able to pursue their dreams fearlessly, without being held back by additional financial commitments.

What are their children's dreams?


"Hopefully my first daughter will be a cardiologist and my second daughter will be a chef. That way I can eat whatever I want in the world and if I get a heart attack, my first daughter can help me," jokes Shah.

These days, their oldest daughter, Nadia, wants to become a vet to pursue her love for helping animals. Their second daughter, Natasha, wants to be a firefighter. As for the youngest, Nadira? At 19-months old, it's still a long road ahead. But whatever their daughters' ambitions may be, like many other parents, both Shah and Evelyn are continuously working towards future-proofing the road ahead for their children.

Parents want the best for their children. But this often means that they spend most of their savings on their children’s education or enrichment programmes. Don’t forget that by planning for your own retirement, you are also providing your kids with the invaluable gift of being free to pursue their passion and dreams.