Wednesday, 29th May 2024

Wednesday, 29th May 2024

From Parent Support Group members to pals for life

23 Nov 2023

Ms Loh (second from right) and her three friends share more in common than just firstborn boys.
Ms Loh (second from right) and her three friends share more in common than just firstborn boys.
Brought together by a common goal of supporting their children in school, four women formed an enduring friendship. They share how joining a parent support group helped them navigate their children’s growing up years and their personal journeys as parents. 
 
By Sabrina Lee


When a group of mothers first joined the Parent Support Group (PSG) at Anchor Green Primary School (AGPS) in 2015, they simply wanted to play an active role in supporting their sons’ school events. Their involvement in the PSG would set the stage for an enduring friendship that has lasted almost 10 years.  

 
Over the years, PSG members-turned-pals, Loh Tang Ling, Tan Lay Hong, Soh Ai Ling and Elizabeth Zhang, have leaned on one another as they navigated the joys and tricky bits of parenthood.  
 
“Nothing lightens the load like shared laughter. Parenting can be a comedy of errors sometimes, and it is refreshing to have others who appreciate your moments,” says Ms Loh. 
 

As stay-at-home mums, she shares that they enjoy the luxury of flexible schedules. “We all live in the same neighbourhood and often meet up at the nearby playground.” 

When their sons were in primary school, the four women would catch up while their sons hung out in the neighbourhood playground (pictured above). 

Ms Zhang recalls the conversation that sealed their friendship. Ms Loh had shared with her a funny incident: “Her boy, then in Primary 5, was accidentally poked in the thigh with a pencil. He was in tears, fearing he’d die because his friend said lead was poisonous.” She adds with a smile, “Tang Ling fought back laughter while reassuring her son that he would be okay.”


“Parenting can be a comedy of errors sometimes, and it is refreshing to have others who appreciate your moments.” 


Finding friendships in a parent support group

Their active participation in the PSG brought them closer together. From mastering sewing skills for a quilting project to coordinating in-school activities, they understood the importance of supporting their children’s teachers who would otherwise have to plan and manage activities. 
 

They all agree that being a teacher is no easy feat. “Whenever possible, I made sure to thank the teachers for their patience with the children and for never giving up on them,” says Ms Tan. 

The four friends were part of a Mother Tongue Fortnight recess activity held at AGPS in 2017, where they organised games like chapteh for the students. 

Aside from PSG-related events, the women also organised outings with their children to family-friendly destinations places such as Sembawang Hot Springs. 

As they engaged in more conversations and activities, the four women discovered that they have a common parenting approach that centres on guiding their children to reach their full potential without imposing their expectations on them.
 
“Whenever we get anxious, we turn to each other for support, calming one another down. Together, we’ve navigated our sons’ PSLE, O- and A-Level journeys,” says Ms Loh.  
 
The women also went to Open Houses together, treating them like group outings. Afterwards, they would compare notes on what each school had to offer. 
 

Supporting one another through COVID-19

Even the COVID-19 pandemic could not keep them apart. “We were in constant contact,” says Ms Loh. “We’d call or message each other, sharing how we were coping. It was a way to make sure we were all keeping sane during those challenging times.”  

With the children at home all day, the four women made sure their sons were engaging well in Home-Based Learning, maintaining proper eating habits, and staying entertained. “The children could not go to playgrounds or other places to burn off energy, so we had to get creative,” says Ms Soh. 

During that challenging period, the women exchanged tips on cooking meals to prevent their children from complaining about repetitive dishes. Ms Tan mentions that besides the constant boredom complaints, the boys kept asking for snacks all day long. “It made us wonder why they were always hungry when they only have one recess in school,” Ms Loh quips. 


“We’d call or message each other, sharing how we were coping. It was a way to make sure we were all keeping sane during those challenging times.”



Their children benefit from their parents’ bonds too 

Like their mothers, the boys have also forged a strong friendship, helping one another with their school work, revision and exam preparations. 

(From left to right) Tony, Pin Quan, Javier and Chien Kiat brushing up on their Maths skills in preparation for the PSLE.

During their PSLE year for example, Ms Loh’s son, Chien Kiat, would eagerly help the boys with their Maths revision with questions that his mother had prepared. The goal? To help his friends get better at Maths and move forward together. 
 
When the children were not revising, they often gathered downstairs to play badminton. Swimming was another sport they enjoy doing together, shares Ms Loh. 
 
Always looking for ways for their sons to learn and bond, Ms Loh shares how they frequently enrolled them as a group in coding sessions, or educational exhibitions at libraries and polytechnics. 
 
After their PSLE, the four boys took different educational paths but remain firm friends up till today. 
 

Growing as parents together   

Ms Loh shares: “I like it that as mums, we are now finding ourselves again, instead of always working around the home and children.” Here they are enjoying a meal at a new café they wanted to try out.

As their children navigate adolescence, the women now exchange insights on handling their teenagers’ emotions. “We hold the responsibility to keep them safe, but we also respect their personal space. They require room to grow, develop their identity, and learn from their mistakes,” says Ms Soh. 

They are also navigating the fine line between being a supportive friend to their children and fulfilling their role as a parent when necessary. “I was ‘reprimanded’ by them once after losing my temper and raising my voice at my son in public,” shares Ms Loh. 
 

Ms Zhang adds that she and her friends are close enough to be able to point out such issues without worrying that they might offend one another: “It takes a very strong friendship to be able to do this.”



“Like all relationships, friendships take time to build too. Be sincere, open your heart, and you will make genuine friends.” 


Looking back, they are glad that they had become parent volunteers when their sons were younger. 

Despite having reservations over the level of commitment required at first, Ms Loh says she has no regrets joining the PSG. She remains an executive committee mentor at AGPS to share her experiences although her son has long graduated from primary school. Ms Loh also has a younger daughter who graduated from AGPS last year.

For busy parents who are hesitant about joining their children’s school PSG, she says: “Even if you attend just one activity in the year, it matters. Your presence makes a difference; it helps children feel more connected to the school when they see their parents involved.” 

And who knows? Like the four women, you might just form friendships that last for life. 

To all potential parent volunteers, Ms Loh advises: “Like all relationships, friendships take time to build too. Be sincere, open your heart, and you will make genuine friends.”


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