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Mother-child bonding: How to forge closer ties
People & Society Articles

Mother-child bonding: How to forge closer ties

Eileen Yap and her family

Eileen Yap with her husband and three children

When Eileen Yap saw her youngest child Jovelle toss and turn on the hospital bed from a bad case of bronchitis, she wanted to give her daughter comfort in the only way she knew how – breastfeeding.

“She was in so much discomfort and couldn’t sleep well, but each time she latched on, it calmed her down a lot,” Eileen recalled. The antibodies in the breast milk also helped such that Jovelle was able to recover without any antibiotics.

The 31-year-old banker assistant saw breastfeeding as a way for her to forge that special emotional bond with her child, on top of giving her the essential nutrients she needed.

Overcoming the odds

Eileen’s breastfeeding journey was not smooth-sailing all the way.

When she gave birth to Joleen in 2012, a lactation consultant at the hospital told her outright that she couldn’t do it because of her inverted nipples, without even letting her try.

Two years later, with Jerrick, she managed to breastfeed successfully – though only for a few weeks. The confinement nanny had fed him using the bottle when they returned home, which made it difficult for him to go back to being nursed.

“I always thought it would be something quite natural, but I didn’t know why it was so difficult for me,” she said, adding that she often found herself crying out of frustration, worn out by the inconvenience and fatigue of using a breast pump, as well as the inability to breastfeed her children.

When Eilen was pregnant with Jovelle, she set her mind on breastfeeding the baby.

She did her homework and found an experienced and pro-breastfeeding confinement nanny who helped correct her position and guide her during the confinement period. As a result, Eileen was able to breastfeed Jovelle for 13 months.

 “It’s knowing that my daughter needs me and that no matter what happens, whether she’s sick or if she falls down, I can bring her some comfort,” Eileen said.

“It was tiring at times, but all was worth it.”

Playtime is important

Beyond breastfeeding, there are various other activities which help foster mother-child bonding.

For mother-of-two Annette Chan, 33, bonding with her children lies in the small things. They include getting her children involved in the everyday chores at home, and setting aside time for the family to enjoy one another’s company, or participating in simple, inexpensive, yet fulfilling activities together.

“For me, bonding is about exploring new things together, marvelling at what they can do, and enjoying life’s little victories and sad moments together,” Annette said. “Even better if I can get help with the chores at the same time!”

Anette and her children
Annette Chan with her two children.

Annette, who is a teacher, often ropes in her six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son when she cooks and bakes – providing good opportunities for them to pick up skills in the kitchen.

“They feel good when they learn how to do ‘adult’ things independently, like crack and beat an egg, wash the rice, or roll meatballs,” she noted. “Then we also have little conversations about what they like to eat, or about their day in school.”

The learning journey extends to herself too. Both parent and children are trying their hand at gardening together.   

Sundays are special days, Annette added. The kids usually put up a “show” for the whole family after dinner, followed by a movie screening at home.

“Sometimes they pretend they’re zookeepers and they perform a show where we (as ‘viewers’) encounter different types of animals, like at the zoo. Or it can be a bird show, a cooking show, a science experiment – they get to decide on the programme, which makes it fun,” she said.

The most important part of doing all these activities together, Annette shared, is listening to what her children have to say.

Annette tries to be home for dinner every evening after work, where no television or iPads are allowed just so they can chat as a family. She also has a nightly routine where she conducts “mini Bible studies” sessions or reads bedtime stories, followed by at least five minutes of pillow talk before the lights go out.

“Spending quality time with my children is about making sure I carve out that few minutes of my day to just listen to their needs or do whatever they want us to do with them,” she said.

“It’s so vital that the kids know that their parents love and listen to them, so they don’t have to seek attention elsewhere,” she added.

“I want my kids to know I’ll always be there for them, no matter what. Hopefully this gives them confidence in whatever they want to do as they grow up.”


Related tags: mothers , family

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