The Emerging Family Report

Introduction

The Emerging Family Report presents a summary of the discussions held at State of the Family 2024: Shaping Next Generation Relationships. State of the Family is Focus’ annual event which aims to provide our key partners with an analysis of emerging trends impacting the Family.

Who exactly are the 
Emerging Families? They consist of the young families of today and the youth of our nation, both of whom represent the future of Singapore.

Key highlights include the results from Focus’ 
Fatherhood Involvement and Marriage Aspirations Survey and FamChamps® #FamilyForTheWin Survey, which were both conducted in 2023.

The observations, discussion questions, and insights presented in this report aims to help you think through the trends surrounding 
Emerging Families and determine how you might be able to apply these in the your context.

Research Findings

Should I use Dating Apps in Search for a Long-term, Committed Relationship?

The question of whether to use dating apps or online dating platforms in pursuit of a long-term relationship is a tricky one. If you’re in a season of your life where your social circles are not expanding, and you would love to meet new people, dating apps are a great platform to meet other singles.  

On the other hand, dating apps have some very real limitations. One of the greatest limitations of dating apps is the illusion of infinite choice. Because the pool of active users on dating apps are so large, individuals are constantly facing what psychologists refer to as the paradox of choice. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, when people are presented with too many options, the individual experiences decreased satisfaction, no matter the choice made. The reason is simple: There is a sense that there is always someone better out there.  

I would like to offer a set of questions to ask yourself, before you decide if dating apps are for you in this time of your life as you seek a long-term, committed relationship. 

A strong friendship built on trust and respect is a great foundation for the early stages of a dating relationship, and it’s much easier to strengthen an existing friendship than it is to build a new one from scratch.   

1. Why do I want to use dating apps?

Before diving into a dating app, it’s important to ask yourself ‘why’. Do you feel that none of your friends could be a potential partner? Evaluate your existing friendships honestly—perhaps there’s someone worth getting to know better. Building a strong friendship based on trust and respect forms a solid foundation for a romantic relationship. Strengthening an existing bond is often easier than starting anew. 

However, if none of your current connections seem promising, it’s time to expand your social circle. Dating apps aren’t the only option; consider joining interest groups, seeking introductions from mutual friends, or volunteering. These are great alternatives for friendships to bloom in a more organic fashion. 

The mode and manner of meeting people is not as crucial as the quality of your friendships.  Strong friendships are built on values of respect and trust. Focus on building meaningful connections and sharpening the soft skills necessary to build a healthy, long-term relationship, such as emotional intelligence and conflict resolution, rather than simply expanding your social network. 

The key to effectiveness in dating is to be clear about what traits you wish your potential date to possess, and what are certain red flags or dealbreakers for you.

2. Do I know myself, and what I am looking for in a potential date?

The second question to ask yourself once you’ve become aware of your motives, is to assess your understanding of self – your goals in life, your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, and your values.  

An important piece of a meaningful, long-term relationship is the degree to which both parties are able to make themselves known, by articulating their goals, needs, values, and their strengths and weaknesses, and have the other receive and reflect them back. It’s important to be aware of these facets of yourself before you commit to knowing another person. 

The other piece that makes a long-term relationship healthy and strong is the ability to accept and receive your partner for the totality of who they are. The key to effectiveness in dating is to be clear about what traits you wish your potential date to possess, and what are certain red flags or dealbreakers for you. This is to avoid unnecessary heartache and disappointment arising from the lack of clear communication of expectations from the onset.

Without the values of contentment, gratitude, and commitment, one will always remain dissatisfied with their match on a dating app.

3. Do I understand the business model, benefit, and drawback of dating apps?

Once you’re clear on your identity and the type of person you’re seeking, it’s essential to understand how dating apps operate, and their pros and cons. Dating apps, driven by profit, aim to attract and retain users through freemium models, offering limited free features, while tempting users with premium subscriptions promising better matches and visibility. These companies capitalize on the human desire to stand out, leveraging it to sell premium features. 

While this raises ethical questions, users must realize that relying solely on free features may limit their chances of finding a quality match. Even with premium features, users may face the paradox of choice and decreased satisfaction. 

Where dating apps excel in is their ability to connect individuals who share a mutual interest in a long-term, committed relationship—assuming this preference is indicated in their profile settings. This is a plus for many users who choose this avenue of meeting other singles over traditional meeting spaces.  

Ultimately, choosing to embrace the values of contentment, gratitude, and commitment is key to satisfaction in dating, regardless of the platform used.  

Thanks to technology, we can build friendships with people whom we may never have otherwise met, but it takes much wisdom and maturity for the interaction online to progress to a real life, genuine connection.

4. Can I use the features offered by a dating app to build a strong friendship — in an intentional and deliberate manner, while staying aware of its limitations? 

Once you understand how dating apps function and have weighed their pros and cons, consider if you can leverage their strengths to foster genuine connections intentionally.  

Dating apps excel in sparking conversations on diverse topics, allowing you to delve beyond the initial superficial conversations into something deeper. Once you have warmed up to each other over text, transitioning to an in-person meeting is crucial for developing deeper friendship, as online interactions lack vital nonverbal cues essential for deeper emotional connection. Face-to-face encounters also verify the authenticity of information shared online. 

One of the greatest challenges with maintaining a connection with someone over text is the difficulty in drawing emotional boundaries, and appropriately pacing the growth of trust and intimacy in the relationship. Trust is built over time, and as easy as it might be to rush an interaction, it’s more beneficial in the long term to exercise restraint. The true character of an individual, such as their values, beliefs, and direction in life takes time to be unveiled, through a variety of different scenarios and contexts. 

After committing to exclusivity, deleting the app helps maintain focus on your current relationship. This helps you draw a mental boundary with the thoughts that there could be someone better out there on the app, and if your current date is the best fit for you. 

Thanks to technology, we can build friendships with people whom we may never have otherwise met, but it takes much wisdom and maturity for the interaction online to progress to a real life, genuine connection. True relational satisfaction and fulfilment comes from the mature decision of mutual commitment, emotional health, and clear communication of expectations and needs, and this can very well be assisted by a dating app, but not replaced by it.  

What a Mum Wants

Introduction

In conjunction with Mother’s Day last year, Focus on the Family Singapore conducted a survey from April 5 to April 24, 2022, to allow mothers to reflect on their motherhood journey. The survey received a total of 311 responses, with more than half of the participating mothers being employed full-time.   

Research Findings

The 1825 Collective: Conversation

Conversations about social issues and trends surrounding family and relationships can sometimes be very complex and challenging. 

However, we can learn to become a voice of change by engaging and communicating our views and beliefs confidently, starting by clarifying why we believe what we believe in.

The 1825 Collective is an immersive multi-level programme (for 18-25 year olds) that gives you an opportunity to explore cultural trends and issues about family and engage with like-minded peers in a safe space.

Through interactive learning, intentional mentoring & innovative application,
1.
Concretise your understanding of pertinent family issues by engaging in hands-on activities and honest conversations in a safe community.
2.
Get upclose and personal with trainers and mentors who will journey with you and empower you to become a voice for family.
3.
Get opportunities to make a difference and impact on families and communities through various initiatives.

Circle is an experiential 3-part series designed for young adults to deepen their understanding of family, marriage and sex and explore ways to live out their values.

This engaging experience includes interactive activities and thought-provoking discussions within a safe peer community, facilitated by experienced and nurturing mentors.

Session 1 – Figuring Out Family: What Makes my Family a “Family”?
Session 2 – The Dating Narrative: Is Marriage the Endgame?
Session 3 – The Economics of Sex: What’s the Market Value?

Be a part of Circle* today!

* Due to the small group format of Circle, all applicants will have to undergo a selection process through the application form.

No speaker selected.

Registration for CIRCLE is open!

$50/pax

FamChamps is a youth movement that raises youths who believe in, live out and champion Family.

Impact Stories

Here are what some participants had to say after attending this event

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Register now and save your spot!

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? We’re here to help.

Each session will include hands-on and experiential activities on various topics pertaining to family. 

 

There will be opportunities to have meaningful discussions and conversations to solidify your understanding of these issues.

 

Trainers of this programme are seasoned experts with a wealth of experience and a heart for family. They will inspire you to envisage the possibilities and various ways of being a Family Champion.

 

Mentors are experienced in youth engagement and group facilitation, whose role would be to share life and facilitate candid and authentic conversations with you. There will be an emphasis on personal reflection, growth and developing soft skills.

(For Levels 2 & 3)

More than competency, we are looking for individuals who have a keen desire to learn, would like to be equipped in engaging others on issues related to family, and who hold to similar timeless family values.

The Big Deal About K-pop Idols And Hollywood Stars

Did your child beg you for permission to attend the Tomorrow X Together concert, or cry over unsuccessful attempts at getting tickets to Taylor Swift’s only stop in Southeast Asia?

Queueing overnight at the post office for concert tickets. Hours spent “camping” on several devices on the day of concert ticket sales. Buying numerous music albums, merchandise and products endorsed by one’s favourite celebrity.

“What’s the big deal about [insert name of singer/band]?” you may ask.

The extent that people would go—just for a chance to see their favourite celebrities and show support—reveal the depth of emotional investment one has in them. Understandably, you may be concerned about your children getting caught up in chasing stars and singers.

Unhealthy obsession, moral values held by the celebrity in question, body image issues, distraction from studies – all these can be worrying.

But what if having a celebrity to look up to isn’t all that bad? How can we guide our teens to navigate the celebrity craze in a healthy manner?

The bright side

As a young adult who spent her teenage years being invested in Taylor Swift and The Hunger Games franchise, and has developed a deep appreciation and love for Korean entertainment (I happen to stan/be a fan of the best K-pop group ever), I would like to humbly suggest that good can actually come out of these seemingly frivolous pursuits.

These include:

1) Encourage hard work and creativity

For starters, most—if not all—of the  celebrities we know have worked hard to get to where they are, and continue to put in lots of time and effort to do what they love and remain in the game.

K-pop idols don’t become stars overnight. They start off as trainees who are put through gruelling training and intense competition, spending years of their youth going through hours of dance, vocal, acting and even language classes every day. They practise for extended hours to prepare for monthly evaluations, where they get graded and ranked for their performance.

Many audition to be trainees, some undergo training, but only a handful of them debut – and that’s when the real work starts.

Tight and long schedules filled with promotional activities, photo and video shoots, performances, ongoing dance and vocal practices – K-pop idols continue to work hard to make a name for themselves. Part of the process also involves discovering one’s style as they grow as creatives.

Other than K-pop artistes, actors, singers and social media influencers also put in many unseen efforts and hours to be where they are and keep improving.

Seeing the blood, sweat and tears poured into one’s craft can motivate young people to also work hard in the things they do and strive to be better. Some of these celebrities also demonstrate humility and a work ethic worth learning from.

While I am not into acting, singing or dancing (I wish I could dance well), the drive, dedication and discipline of the K-pop groups I love inspire me in my sporting pursuits, motivating me to push hard and to become a better version of myself.

Seeing the blood, sweat and tears poured into one’s craft can motivate young people to also work hard in the things they do and strive to be better.

2) Inspire our own interests and dreams

The talents and passions that celebrities have can inspire young people to try new things like acting, singing and different genres of dance.

I know of many people who picked up dance because of K-pop, realise they have a flair for it and branch out to explore other genres of dance. In particular, one of my friends who used to get bullied in school for being overweight, picked up K-pop choreography out of interest and not only lost weight, but also discovered a hobby that she continues to enjoy as a young adult. This greatly restored her confidence and self-esteem.

Having opportunities to discover interests outside of academics helps teens develop holistically, grow in their self-esteem, and can boost their mental wellbeing. In the process of exploring what one enjoys and/or is good at, young people may also unearth dreams.

Having spent a good deal of my teenage years following British and American YouTube content creators, I developed an interest in producing videos – a skill that I use in my job, and a hobby that brings me joy. Making my own videos has also helped me to appreciate creative content a lot more, and I continue to find ways to improve my skillsets.

Having opportunities to discover interests outside of academics helps teens develop holistically, grow in their self-esteem, and can boost their mental wellbeing.

3) Expose us to other cultures and perspectives

Following celebrities from other countries has given me the chance to learn about other cultures and get a glimpse of what life is like around the world. It has also broadened my outlook on life as I hear perspectives I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to in my usual social circles. I have grown to appreciate different cultures and my own, develop empathy and a curious mindset when meeting different people.

The thought of your children being exposed to values and perspectives that you may not want them to adopt can be scary. Yet at the same time, we need to recognise that children can’t and won’t always be shielded from external influences.

Allowing room for them to chase celebrities and putting measures in place is a delicate balance that every parent-child pair can navigate through. You can help your teen remain grounded through ongoing open conversations and intentionally passing down values through word and action.

Having a celebrity they look up to can mean a lot to your teen. On our part as caring adults, we can first build a bridge by showing an interest in what they love.

Here are some questions to kickstart conversations with your kids about their favourite actor/singer/band:

1. What do you like about them?

2. What do you know about their life story/band history?

3. What are some of your favourite shows/movies/songs they have created?

4. In what ways do they inspire you? What are some positive traits you can learn from them?

5. Are there any social causes they are passionate about?

6. Are there any values/behaviours you don’t agree with?

Even as a young adult, it gets me excited when my dad shows me news about Blackpink, or when my mum listens to me talk about how pretty and talented they are.

At the same time, I am wary of the dangers and downsides idol-chasing can bring – especially when it is taken to an extreme, such as stealing money to attend a concert, or exhibiting disordered eating behaviours.

As adults, let’s keep the conversation open so we can guide the young and equip them with principles to help them navigate fan culture in a healthy manner.

This article was written by Faith Wong, a gen-Zer who loves gymming, K-pop bands, and coffee. 

Keys to Understanding Your Gen-Z Child

Mums and dads, if you’ve ever felt lost while talking to your Gen-Z, this is your cheat sheet to understanding their lingo and habits.

Born between 1997 and 2012, this cohort of Generation Z, or Gen-Z for short, has grown up in a dramatically different landscape, profoundly shaped by the internet and global connectivity.

This generation has also coined a plethora of slang terms, hashtags, and expressions that shape their communication both online and offline.

Here are some common Gen-Z lingos to grasp:

  • “Slay”: In Gen-Z lingo, “slay” means to perform exceptionally well or to excel in a particular activity or aspect of one’s life. It is often used in a positive and empowering context to praise someone’s style, confidence, talent or overall success. As an example, if your friend walked into a party in an amazing outfit, you could respond “slay”.
  • “Flex”: This is a term used to showcase or boast about one’s accomplishments, possessions, skills or attributes, often with the intention of impressing others. It’s about demonstrating one’s success or superiority, typically in a confident manner. For instance, if your friend gets the latest phone, brings it to work and tells everyone about it, someone might say they’re flexing.
  • “Sus”: Short form for “suspicious”, used to describe someone that is behaving in a questionable or dubious manner. One way to use it could be upon receiving an unusual email and commenting, “That email from an unknown sender looks sus, don’t open any attachments.”
  • “Slap”: Used to describe something that is really good. For example, if you particularly enjoyed a song, you could say, “This song really slaps!”

Understanding what makes your Gen-Z tick is crucial because it helps you bridge the generational gap, foster better communication and better support your children in an ever-changing world.

Foster effective communication 

If our Gen-Z kids use slang, not embracing this language can make it hard for us to understand their viewpoints. So, don’t insist on them using formal English; rather, try to understand their lingo and perspectives.

Provide support and guidance

Understanding our child’s passions and concerns, such as their commitment to a sport or their entrepreneurial aspirations, enables us to provide them the right support and guidance.

Show genuine interest in their lives

When we show an interest in what our Gen-Zs are concerned about, it sends a powerful message that we genuinely care. It shows our children that we are there to support them and adapt to their changing needs.

Understand what drives your Gen-Z

Amidst the common stereotypes portraying Gen-Z as the “strawberry generation” or labelling them as selfish, impatient and social media addicts, it’s essential to delve deeper. Who are they truly, and what drives them?

  • Digital natives

Gen-Z is often referred to as “digital natives” because they have grown up with technology seamlessly integrated into their lives. They are adept at navigating the digital landscape, from social media platforms to online learning environments. This tech-savviness has made them quick adapters to new digital trends and tools.

  • Social media pioneers

Gen-Z’s behaviour is heavily shaped by their use of social media. They are not passive consumers but active creators of content. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram have given them a powerful voice, allowing them to express themselves, champion causes, and even launch careers.

  • Budding entrepreneurs

Many Gen-Z individuals are driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. They embrace the gig economy, start side businesses, and value flexibility in their careers. Their ability to monetiSe their online presence and skills sets them apart as young entrepreneurs.

  • Mental health advocates

Gen-Z is more open about mental health struggles and advocates for mental well-being. They seek online communities that offer support and share their experiences to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Understanding the environment our Gen-Zs are growing up in can help us better connect with them, provide guidance, and create a supportive environment that addresses their unique strengths, challenges and opportunities. We hope this cheat sheet will help you grow your relationship with your Gen-Zer, and take it to new heights!

Written by Nicole Hong, a Sociology and Psychology Undergraduate

How Far Is Too Far?

Tween Years (10-12)

Every child is different, so while some children at this age might find physical intimacy between male and female disgusting, others may be drawn to it. Talk to your child about physical intimacy in the context of a loving relationship – how a man and a woman express romantic love by physical closeness and contact. The deeper the relationship, the greater such physical contact is. Whether your children are used to seeing you and your spouse showing physical affections in front of them or not, openly share that couples do kiss, cuddle and enjoy great physical intimacy as part of the relationship between husband and wife. If you find that your child enjoys physical affection and likes expressing their affection physically, give them lots of that too so that they do not need to seek it elsewhere.   

The tween years are when they can start to develop crushes on friends of the opposite sex, or on celebrities. With the latter, they can get exposed to “less kiddy” lifestyles through shows and media featuring their idols.  

As far as possible, be aware of shows and videos your child is watching, so that you can use them as conversation topics. You may want to stress that screen life is not real life so they do not subconsciously adopt behaviours or mindsets contrary to your family’s values. This also help them grow in awareness about media influence since they may sub-consciously mimic trends, attitudes and even behaviours towards boy-girl relationships. 

You can pick up teaching moments when you watch shows together; for example, when characters fall in love through a prolonged gaze on screen, ask your child if they think that’s how people fall in love in real life. Teach them about physical boundaries in any relationship, even for a romantic one, and walk through with them on what to do when they encounter unwanted physical contact.

Teen & Late Teen Years (13-19) 

Your teen is likely to already have peers who are in romantic relationships. Being liked is a big deal at this age as they explore and define their identities. So help them build their self-image and worth on their values and character, not on appearances and what they have or have not, i.e. a boyfriend, the newest gadget, or a certain weight.  

In their early teen years, start the conversation on when they can have a boyfriend or girlfriend. As they grow, you can expand the topic to what they think is appropriate physical boundaries for a couple. When mapping these boundaries, you probably want to list behaviours like kissing on the cheek, kissing on lips, French kissing, touching above clothes, under clothes, mutual sex play and sexual intercourse. The key to note is that sexual feeling increases with physical intimacy and when couples start to make out, it can be very hard to stop. Research shows that sexual arousal turns off certain parts of the brain that controls reasoning and self-control. Things can easily go out of control and you might find yourself in a position which you do not want to be in.  

Some questions to ask are: 

  • Is sleeping together on the same bed with your boyfriend/girlfriend okay? 
  • Will it set you up to be in a situation you rather not be in? 
  • What do you think of sexting, or being asked to send a nude? 
  • What if you feel like going further beyond your personal boundaries or your partner starts touching you somewhere you rather they don’t? What do you do? 

Go through probable situations so they know what to do if and when they do happen.  

You – and your teen – may cringe at the thought of mentioning these details but talking about it also helps them think through what sex entails, especially when their image of it may be built on just what is depicted on media.  

Sexual intimacy happens not just on a physical level – there are emotional (your feelings), ethical (values and consequences), social (the way you relate to others) and intellectual (evaluation and making of choices) aspects as well. Oxytocin is released during arousal, therefore there is also an automatic attachment and bonding. This means that even if sex is supposed to be “no strings attached” on an emotional level, attachment happens anyway biologically. Talk deeper with them about the consequences of sex before marriage.  

Sexual activities can have long-term implications. Research actually shows that teenage sexual activity is linked to a higher percentage of depression, loss of self-worth and even suicide attempts. Those who refrained from pre-marital sex also reported higher marital satisfaction. You can frame the conversation from the angle of short-term and long-term pros and cons and consequences based on the choices they make.   

At all times, avoid fear or shame in the conversations but do be honest and real. If you suspect, or are told by your child that they may have gone too far, continue to be calm and process the situation with them. Assure them of your love and ask them how they feel and think about the situation and how they would like you to support them. Continue to be a safe space for them and help them build a healthy understanding of sexuality and to know how to make wise decisions for their long-term welfare.  

Conversations About Sex Need Not Be So Tough

Research shows that when parents engage their children in topics on sexuality, their children grow to make wiser choices in relationships and sex. To help you overcome your fears in broaching the topic, we have designed a Talk About Sex video series specially for parent and child (aged 7-12) to enjoy, engage with and learn together!

What Are Values and How Do They Affect Me?

Tween Years (10-12 Years)

Values are belief systems held by a person or even by a family or even corporately by larger groups like a school, company or culture. In fact, in your school hall, you may even see your school’s values on the walls, encompassing traits like “honesty”, “kindness” and so on. 
 
Ethics is another word that you may hear when talking about values. Both refer to the belief system we have internally that affects what we do externally.  
 
Generally, we tend to adopt the value systems of our family of origin. However, our personal beliefs can also be shaped by values held by our peers, or the community we are a part of.  
 
As you grow older and the sources of influence in your life expands, you may also find your values challenged when you meet people with opposing values. If these people are important to you, feelings of confusion or tension may arise. It may also be tempting to adopt their values. 
 
But why are values so important?

Teen Years (13-15 Years) 

Think of the smartphone or laptop you are using right now to read this article.  
 
Beneath the surface of your device, there’s a complex system of microchips, wires, batteries and motherboard designed to power your device and make it work.  
 
No one sees them but they are there.  
 
Without them, even if you have the laptop casing or phone casing, it won’t work.  
 
Values are like that internal system of intricate wiring and hardwire. They determine your perspectives, attitude, and behaviour on the outside.  
 
They may be unseen but they set the course for your life, aiding you in all the big and small decisions, from simple ones like dressing to complex ones like sexual expression.  
 
They can guide what you choose to view or do on your devices. They also likely influence your choice of friends and even romantic partners in the future  
 
Besides being that internal engine, values are also like anchors.  
 
They keep you rooted to something when you experience new places, new things and even the storms of life.  
 
Without strong values and committed beliefs, your life may begin to look like a ship that is adrift, easily swayed by external factors or others who have strong opinions. Without values, your emotions can also become an unpredictable leader.

Late Teens (16-19 Years)

What do you believe is right or wrong? What do you do if the values of others clash with your own? What if your boyfriend or girlfriend has different values regarding sex and sexuality?  
 
These are hard questions for everyone. But remember, your values act like landmarks and signposts to help you navigate life’s ups and downs.  
 
Managing strong feelings can be hard. However, it is not impossible and very often, working through challenges and struggles can help you strengthen your values and your character.   
 
Your values will also help you set healthy boundaries around you so you make choices to be open to some people and closed to others.  
 
They will also help you decide which friends you want to keep close and which to let go.  
 
If you are not sure what your own values are, why not take time to think about it and write down a few? 
 
You can start by thinking about what you value and why. Then expand that to how that value can be expressed and even its boundaries, e.g., Integrity, expressed in my words and actions. I would not like my close friends and family to lie to me. A simple way of charting this out is to draw a simple table with three columns and put as headers for each column – Value, Expression, Boundaries. 
 
Over time, you may find yourself returning to these “value statements” to keep adding on or refining their expression and boundaries

Conversations About Sex Need Not Be So Tough

Research shows that when parents engage their children in topics on sexuality, their children grow to make wiser choices in relationships and sex. To help you overcome your fears in broaching the topic, we have designed a Talk About Sex video series specially for parent and child (aged 7-12) to enjoy, engage with and learn together!

Should I Follow My Feelings?

Tween Years (10-12)

Ever seen a toddler smack another because they were upset? Or snatch a toy because they also wanted it? How did the adults around them respond? We would explain that the behaviour was wrong and teach them not to take action simply based on their feeling a certain way.  
 
As you enter your teen years, you too may find yourself experiencing strong emotions. These may sometimes include unfamiliar emotions like romantic crushes  
 
Following these feelings may be like behaving like a toddler who lashes out on impulse.  
 
Maturity then comes when you learn how not to be controlled by your feelings. Think of it as inserting a pause between how you feel and how you act.  
 
Our feelings are often indicators of something deeper going on inside. The child who snatched the toy could have been experiencing jealousy and envy. But at that age, children may not understand such complex emotions.  
 
Some useful questions to ask yourself when you experience strong emotions include: Why do I feel this way? What am I upset about?  
 
The pause you insert between your feelings and your actions can protect you from being swept away by emotions and acting in ways you may regret after.

Teen Years (13-15) 

Feelings are like signposts of our inner well-being. They help tell you if you are doing well or not quite. When you are not doing well inside, it’s unlikely you will experience positive emotions. So if we follow our feelings blindly, we may end up hurting ourselves or the people around us.  
 
Developing self-awareness is about learning to recognise why you feel the way you do, and acting on the cause, not just the feeling itself. 
 
It’s like a spider and its webs. If one day, you find your room full of cobwebs, you will clean the cobwebs but if you don’t find the spider, the cobwebs will be back.  
 
Acting on your feelings without first understanding the cause is like dealing with the cobwebs and not the spider.  
 
The cobwebs are the feelings. The spider is the actual problem or reason behind those feelings.  
 
Our feelings can point us to the problem and move us to seek help. But being able to identify the root causes and needs behind those feelings is a crucial step towards getting out of a rut.

Late Teens (16-19)

What you feel may be real, but is it true?  

For example, in the heat of jealousy, that toddler may have felt that the other child is preferred because he has the toy. Or the toddler may have felt unloved because he wanted the toy but didn’t have it.  

The feelings are real. But they may not be based on truth.  

So even though we value our emotions for acting as signposts to our inner world, we do have to acknowledge that feelings are poor leaders. We have to learn to lead our feelings.  

Self-regulation is a great way to do this. 

When experiencing strong emotions, practise taking a pause before you respond. A common trick many people use is to count to a certain number. This shifts your attention away from the difficult emotion, and provides a space to calm down to focus on the facts instead.  

You can also remind yourself of simple truths to “ground” you. Depending on the scenario, these could be: 

  • “I am in control.”  
  • “I am valued.”  
  • “I don’t need to mirror their response.”  
  • “I won’t take this personally.”  

If you are experiencing conflict or feeling emotionally attacked, you can imagine a shield around you or the person’s words falling to the ground before it touches you.  

These reminders can be powerful anchors in times of distress. 

Managing strong feelings can be hard. If you are experiencing consistent, difficult feelings about a person or a recurring situation, do speak to a trusted friend or family member. This person should be able to add perspective and lend strength to you.

Conversations About Sex Need Not Be So Tough

Research shows that when parents engage their children in topics on sexuality, their children grow to make wiser choices in relationships and sex. To help you overcome your fears in broaching the topic, we have designed a Talk About Sex video series specially for parent and child (aged 7-12) to enjoy, engage with and learn together!

How Do I Relate to My Friend Who Identifies As LGBTQ?

Tween Years (10-12 Years)

The big question to understand first is, what is LGBTQ?  
 
Speak to adults you know and trust about anything you are unsure of. Seeking advice from your parent or trusted caregiver means that you know for sure this person has your best interests in heart.   

So don’t just google for answers! Remember the internet is made up of many sources of information with different opinions. Many of these are opinions, not factual information from experts. Some of them may also be biased because they want to convince you to take a certain viewpoint.  

If you sense that your friend may see you as more than a friend, it may make you feel awkward.  
 
A helpful tip to remember that you have a choice when it comes to dealing with unwanted crushes and affections from anyone in the same way. Regardless of the sex of the person, you should feel safe enough to voice how you feel and if need be, put distance between you and your friend.  
 
But just like how it would not make sense to speculate over crushes unless the other party has announced their intentions, it is unnecessary to worry about a scenario that has not materialised.  
 
You can remain friends and even ask questions like “What are the reasons behind your identifying as LGBTQ?” if they are comfortable talking about this.

Teen Years (13-15 Years) 

It is natural for good friends to ask questions about each other’s convictions and behaviours. After all, that’s what you do when you are trying to understand any new topics or differing opinions.  
 
Just because you ask someone why they think they are LGBTQ does not mean you are being bigoted or judgmental, if you are genuinely interested in understanding more about your friend.  
 
Discussions that enhance connection stem from a sincere desire to understand the other better, so be clear of your own intentions.  
 
Understanding means empathy and a sincere desire to know someone better and see their views as valuable. But it doesn’t always need to result in agreement.  
 
You may find it hard to express your own opinions in the face of strongly opposing views but remember, you are not trying to win a debate. Your opinion is equally valuable.  
 
If you feel uncomfortable with where a conversation is headed – whether in topic or tone it is also perfectly okay to say you would rather talk about something else. 

Emerging Years (16-19 Years)

Does loving someone mean accepting their beliefs even when they clash with yours? We have many friends and family whom we love, each of them with differing beliefs. If loving them means we have to adopt all of their beliefs, it can get pretty confusing.  
 
Loving someone does not mean you have to agree with everything they believe or do. 

What makes a good friend? Someone kind and caring? A good listener who seems to understand you? How about someone with the same hobbies so you can spend time together on shared interests?  
 
Would you expect your good friend to change their convictions to follow all of yours? No, that is not a usual ingredient for friendship  
 
In our teenage years, we often look for something bigger than ourselves as we work out our own inner convictions and how to express them externally. This is part of the identityforging process.  
 
What makes up our identity? There are many factors, such as our biological sex, our family of origin, upbringing, past experiences and more. While sexual orientation can also be a factor of how people view themselves, it need not be the biggest defining factor
 
A person is infinitely more than their sexual orientation. If we care about the people dear to us, we should see beyond their sexual orientation too 
 
As a friend, you may want to bring up some common teenage relationship concerns like physical boundaries, sexual consent, and sexual boundaries within relationships to help your friend think about what is acceptable for them.

Conversations About Sex Need Not Be So Tough

Research shows that when parents engage their children in topics on sexuality, their children grow to make wiser choices in relationships and sex. To help you overcome your fears in broaching the topic, we have designed a Talk About Sex video series specially for parent and child (aged 7-12) to enjoy, engage with and learn together!