My Parenting Journey – Dr Sherman Ong
What/who influences your parenting style?
As a Christian, the Bible which is the Word of God, has the greatest influence on my parenting style. I am mindful of biblical principles from day one of my parenting experience with my beloved wife, Shirleen since 1988 when our first daughter was born. We wanted to build a Christian Home where each child will grow to have a personal relationship with our God. When I became a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach in 2015, I decided to apply the strengths-based approach in my parenting journey. Believing that we need to know our talent themes to foster a better understanding of each other, I got my entire family to access the CliftonStrengths assessment.
Knowing our own talent themes became a way for us to affirm our strengths, better appreciate the different perspectives we bring. This contributes towards a greater depth in our family conversations and strengthens our relationship as a family. Be it during our travels or discussing pertinent issues as a family, we would share our different views, helping us to have a more robust understanding of the complexities and bringing the matter at hand to our God. In the course of time, the Insights gained and the Applications made have contributed to a Meaningful Impact of understanding how our strengths work and how our differences mattered and contributed to a complete whole. The use of the I.A.M. framework: Insight | Application | Meaningful Impact (IAM) became a natural process and not a mere framework. Often, my wife and I would discuss issues we face, framed within the understanding of our talent themes and this has contributed to conversations that build each other up rather than tear each other down.
Parenting can be a challenging experience and instead of telling our children what to do, we have also learnt that when they discover the strengths and gifts that God has given to them, doing what He has enabled them to do will bring them greater joy and fulfillment.
What is the best piece of parenting advice or guidance you have ever received?
One of the best piece of parenting advice I received from my own attendance of the Gallup Accelerated Strengths Coaching course was as parents we do see our children through the filters of our own talent themes. By discovering each child's top five signature talent themes, they learn that they also see us through their talent filters. Consequently, we learn to share and complement each other where our talent themes may seem to be clashing. As parents, we also highlight the talent theme application that will potentially help us build stronger bonds amongst family members. Over time, it becomes a habit for us to be highlighting and sharing our own observations with one another, and helping each other grow and develop our top five talents.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in parenting? How do you deal with them?
One of the typical challenge confronting parenting when we try to use the strengths-based approach is that of nonchalance and unwillingness to go deep into talent theme application. The common excuse is that of “no time”. How then do we deal with it? It is fair to say that discovering your own talent and taking time to deliberately apply our own talent theme takes effort. One cannot bulldoze our way in the strengths-based approach. Hence, initial education and explanations to get buy-in to adopt the strengths-based approach was a very important thing to carry out. We need to deal with any form of objections one at a time. We need to learn to understand why there is nonchalance in the attitude. Once we get to the bottom of the objections, we can deal with them systematically and get things going.
How did you find out about the StrengthsFinder test?
I first read a book called Halftime by Bob Buford. In that the book, Bob mentioned that we need to know our core values and competencies. One of the approach is to do a CliftonStrengthsFinder (CSF) assessment. When I was preparing to attend the Gallup Accelerated Strengths Coaching course, I was asked to take the CSF assessment as well.
How did the results of the StrengthsFinder test shape/change your parenting approach?
To be honest, initially it did not take any effect since I was the one discovering my own talent themes and learning to apply them myself. But ever since the family completed the CSF assessment, we began to be more conscious of our individual talent themes and both my wife and I took effort to apply the strengths-based parenting approach. Gradually, it began to impact our parenting style.
As a parent, what is the one thing that you want to do better or be better at?
Nothing like spending time with my family members: with my wife alone and with each of our three children. If there is one thing that we can do better, it is to be able to spend more time with each individual developing and growing our talent themes as family!
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Community Ambassador; as someone who was raised in a rather privileged family, I hope to address the inequity in educational outcomes based on the circumstance of birth. Bounced around between Australia and Singapore a fair bit.