What does family mean to us? Some of us define family through the roles we play—mother, daughter, sister, and so on—while to others, life is complete only with a family.

In this #AskFFL interview, Families for Life Council Chairman Mr Ishak Ismail and Council Member Mrs Sher-Li Torrey give their views on why family matters and how they keep the bonds strong at home.

Adapt to evolving roles

Relationships between family members evolve, especially in the growing up years when children blossom into teenagers.

One way to adapt is to embrace each member of the family as individuals. As dad to two adult daughters aged 27 and 29, Ishak worked on developing an authentic connection with them as independent persons. This allows him to transcend their parent-child roles and see each other as equals.

For Sher-Li, it is important for parents to recognise that the learning goes both ways, especially when parenting adolescents. This means giving space in their relationship for their teenager to step up and add value to the family.

Create meaningful connections

Making meaningful connections with each other matters as much as quality time. It is about looking for moments to share common experiences.

For Ishak, it is as simple as tuning in to the same radio station and enjoying the same music as his kids. Sharing common interests and topics help to open up opportunities for conversation.

To Sher-Li, it is also about finding the right time to talk. Sharing her past mistakes and an honest take on situations has allowed her to bond with her seven-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. By keeping things real, her kids see her as a human being, and not just a mum.

Family is teamwork

Being part of a family is being a part of a team. To Sher-Li, it may be beneficial for a couple with vastly different parenting styles to have conversations about them.For Ishak, a happy marriage forms a strong foundation for the family. The interactions between a couple at home is a role-model for teamwork within the family for the kids.

This form of close bonding also applies to relationships with extended family and friends. Close friends and relatives are a crucial form of social support for a family. With the help of technology, it has become easier to sustain these community ties during pandemic times.

In families where one member is absent, teamwork becomes even more crucial. Sher-Li points out that families who have successfully overcome such situations are those whose remaining members have stepped in to fill the gap.

The content of this article was adapted from an interview on CNA 938FM "Family Ties" with presenter Susan Ng and guests, Families for Life Council Chairman Mr Ishak Ismail and Council Member Mrs Sher-Li Torrey, as part of the #AskFFL series.