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She spared the rod and spoiled her child

A mother's account

Madam Candice Liow blames herself for her son's bad behaviour.

The seven-year-old frequently interrupts our interview, complaining he is bored.

When he is asked to go to the playground with their domestic helper, he refuses. At one point, he snatches my notebook and throws it on the ground.

I ask if her son suffers from any special needs condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism, and Madam Liow gives a wry laugh.

"If that was the case, then I'd feel better, less embarrassed and less helpless," she says.

When her older child misbehaved a couple of years ago, the marketing manager, 45, thought the girl could not accept the parents' divorce.

But after several counselling sessions, Madam Liow was told: "You have been too strict with your daughter. She feels you don't love her."

She says: "I was advised to change tack - shower her with love, explain why she shouldn't do this and that, affirm every action (right or wrong) with assurances that I love her."

She then applied that method with her son, only to see it backfire.

She once dozed off while on an MRT ride when the passenger seated beside her gave her a nudge.

"I saw my son trying to swing from one handrail to another. My maid was holding him up," she says.

"Other passengers expressed their disgust. I felt all eyes on me.

"I asked my maid to pull my son away, but he started to scream in objection."

Madam Liow says she felt so ashamed and angry that "I got up, grabbed my son and walked out at the next station".

"I was so afraid of making eye contact with anyone. We hopped into a cab and for the first time in my son's life, I thrashed him."

That was two years ago.

She says: "Since that incident, when we get into the MRT, he sits quietly beside me."

But, she concedes, there are "still many areas" in which her son lacks discipline. "I am doing what I can."