Many families have 2 children and stop at that, believing that the strain of managing more might mean less love, time and resources for each child. Yong Chee Yee, his wife Jodi and their 5 children Jethro, Juliet, Jairus, Jeshua and Joseph however are living proof that more does not mean less.
The Yongs feel that through their love, respect and commitment in their marriage and family life, they have been able to complement each other and pursue a common goal to build a strong marriage. They take pride and responsibility in helping their kids navigate their growing years and building a safe and comfortable home for all.
And Baby Makes 5!
Chee Yee, 45, a human resource personnel in a non-profit organisation, first met his wife, Jodi, in the polytechnic. After the birth of their first child, Jodi, 44, who works for the same employer, made a conscious decision to opt for flexi-arrangements to work from home.
Married in 1995, he wanted 2 kids, whilst she wished for 3. Today however, they are blessed with, the golden sum of their individual preferences, 5 beautiful children: Jethro, Juliet, Jairus, Jeshua and Joseph, aged 15, 13, 11, 7 and 3 respectively.
It Was Not Always Easy
There was a phase in their marriage where differing perspectives – for example, on what sexual intimacy means to each – led to communication gaps and misunderstanding. They sought to diffuse the tension by seeking advice from older friends, counsellors, and even sat for ‘personality tests’ to try and iron out the kinks in their relationship which had become strained.
Chee Yee, an introvert, admits, “It takes a lot out of me to openly talk about my feelings and thoughts.” Jodi lets out a hearty laugh upon hearing him share that his wife who “talks a lot” tends to give an “information overload”. Jodi, the straight-talker, in turn, reveals that it is difficult for her to understand what her husband is thinking if he chooses to keep mum about things all the time.
Appreciating Each Other
Jodi says without qualms, “Marriage is not about happily ever after; it is about maturing, growing with each other. We change over time and when another child comes along, the family dynamics also change… do we succumb to these changes? No!”
Love, respect and commitment are anchor values that run deep in the family. The couple is securely bound by their common goal to make the marriage work, no matter what.
Jodie appreciates her husband deeply for his faithfulness and commitment, “Divorce is never on his mind. Knowing this stabilises and assures me there is always room to work things out.”
Both believe taking the easy way out is not an option, and hold firm to the sanctity of the marriage vow.
Before bedtime, everyone gathers for the all-important “family meeting”. During this time each member gets to connect, openly talk and exchange opinions about school, work, friends or other issues on the “family agenda” that need airing, such as the allocation of television time for the kids who have different preferences.
The family of 7 has a simple mantra – OPQR – where kids Obey Parents, but are allowed to ask Questions and make Requests.
Jodi is primarily motivated to see character growth in her kids. She expects her children to obey and respect their parents, but also openly discusses matters with them. She guides them along to rationalise issues, consider alternative options, frame reasonable requests, negotiate and arrive at solutions together.
She always explains to her kids, “Don’t just whine or cry (when wants are unfulfilled). Don’t simply close your eyes. Look around, think out of the box, consider other options.” For example, she encourages them to check out second-hand shops like Cash Converter, instead of blindly hankering after the latest gadget models.
The Fabulous Five
The kids clearly enjoy one another’s company. The fabulous five would not have their ‘family gang’ any different.
Jethro is an avid sailor who enjoys solitary moments at sea with the wind blowing in his face. The big brother enjoys wrestling with his younger siblings in the bedroom in their regular ritual of pillow fights.
Juliet, the Yong’s only daughter, is a National Police Cadet Corps member who dreams of being a uniformed police officer when she grows up. She wants to uphold moral values, justice and help others. She enjoys playing badminton and basketball with her siblings.
Jairus enjoys planning chess moves and building structures with Lego. Jeshua is active and adorable, 4 years older than the ‘baby’ of the family, Joseph.
The older siblings dote on and care for the little ones. Once, Joseph jumped into a swimming pool without warning. Everyone else followed suit and plunged in to ‘save’ him. Before long, all started splashing about together and had glorious fun! Jodi, a strong believer in the rich rewards of family life, encourages other mums planning to have more children to “just have them!”
A Worthwhile Trade Off
With finite resources, trade-offs are inevitable in terms of standards of living and luxurious family holidays. Having said that, Chee Yee and Jodi prefer to invest their time and money in cultivating rich, meaningful relationships. Interestingly, the quality of Chee Yee and Jodi’s home life has surpassed their own expectations when they first got married. Though they are quick to add, “It doesn’t just happen; one cannot be passive or do nothing about it. You may start with a loving family, but if you do not intentionally choose to put in effort or be committed to the loving relationship, one day, you may become strangers.”
The Yong family finds it a great joy to return home each day to their loved ones. Home is the safe, comfortable haven which they have fought hard to build, one loving step at a time.