good books iconRaising Your Family EQ.  
By Christabel Hong Seok Ai and Lisabel Ting Hwih Juen. 
Singapore: Students Care Service, 2005, 176 pp.
Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng

The book is created to strengthen family bonding through communication and doing things together.  It is written not as another book to add to the parenting collection but the hard work is the result of the author's response to the cry of parents who are at a loss as to what they can say to their children other than "school and homework!" (p. 4). Christabel is an Educator, Counselling Psychologist and Learning Support Specialist with Students Care Service and she has many years of experience working with parents, youths and children.  Lisabel, the co-author, is her daughter.  Hence, the mother and daughter team is the testimony of a family who talks and plays together and that adds credibility to what the book sets out to achieve. The family of four is worshipping in a Methodist church in Singapore .

The book is designed with 52 learning activities.  Each learning activity is skillfully crafted to encompass the four concepts of Tale, Talk, Think and Task purported to raise Family Emotional Quotient (EQ). That is, helping members of the family to better handle emotions by interacting and thinking through issues that are challenging them to stay as a family.

The Tale concept in each learning activity tells a story and the 52 tales are built around the experiences of children and parents in their day-to-day lifestyle. Mothers will be familiar enough to reenact those parent-child conflict scenes when their daughters "disagreed completely" with their "dress sense!" (pp. 125-126).  Or a father who had a terrible, hectic day at work found no relief when he was "hit by a barrage of complaints about who hit who and who disturbed who" the moment he entered the house (pp. 89-91). Rivalry between siblings, breaking house rules and children who do not shoulder their respective responsibilities in the housework also rank high in encountering experience of tension in parenting. Can children be taught to empathize with their parents?

Other tales speak of coping with the pressure of growing up in the home and in the school environment.  What can parents do to help their children handle the emotions of facing academic failures (pp. 83-85) or family breaking up (pp. 152-154)?  Children in the school are often confronted with the moral decision of "Should I, or shouldn't I" when they are "prompted" by peers to bully, to cheat in an examination or to lie to their parents. What can parents do to give them lessons on balancing emotion and reason in making decisions that lead to right choices?  It is helpful that these stories are written in the form of moral dilemmas and each situation provides a good platform for role-playing, role taking and discussion for the family.

Parents need to be selective in using the stories that are appropriate to the age range of their children.  To captivate and sustain the attention of younger children, "Damian, a lost hedgehog from the zoo, is created and weaved into each story to keep the children engaged and entertained" (Preface).

The Talk component consists of questions focussed on involving the family to discuss the issue related in the Tale.  The questions serve several functions.  They enable the participants to identify with the context and feelings of the characters depicted in each story.  Through identification and talking through the questions, the exercise hopes to promote self-awareness of knowing how one feels in that "real" situation. Being aware and able to talk about emotions without denying them or getting overly emotional, both parents and children are learning to empathize with the feelings and emotions of each other. The family bond can be strengthened when members put their heads together to make decisions to respond to issues based on sound values. Christian parents may use the questions as opportunities to interact and inculcate in their children values that are true to the teachings of the Scripture.  The key word is "interact" and not "react" with lectures!

The questions serve as a guide and parents may have to adapt or rephrase to involve younger children in the family discussion. The Think concept is the third component in the learning activity that aims to encourage both parents and children to reflect on what they can do to improve their communication and relationship as a family.  Again, younger children need more assistance to make this relevant to them.  The final Task consists of activities suggested by the authors for families to spend quality time together to enable "family members to appreciate one another, reinforce lessons learnt from the stories, or simply have fun as a family" (p. 8).

The book is also a valuable resource for parenting education and teaching primary school children in the context of Christian education in the church. The situations and moral dilemmas posed in the Tale can be adapted for use in the church classrooms. With effective adaptations, they can be used to link the unchangeable biblical principles to the changing contemporary moral issues threatening the Christian family.  The family must remain strong and the book speaks of the sincere intent of the authors to accomplish the dearly held value:

We have put our hearts and souls to create this book especially for you and your family to deepen your appreciation and understanding of one another. We hope that through the use of this book, you will be able to weave a strong  tapestry of love in your family that will give it the unity and strength to ride out any storm, and to warm its heart on wintry days (Preface).


Chapel service on 13 April was led by Dr Aquila Lee. He spoke on the theme of "the cost of following Jesus" based on the three sets of dialogues between Jesus and three would-be-disciples (Luke 9:57 -62).

Chapel speaker on 27 April will be Mr Alan Goei.


  1. We were pleased to have Pak Wah, (DipCS, 2003) Rina and Fide at  Chapel on Wed, 13 Apr. They are back in Singapore for a month before returning to Regent College , Vancouver .  

  2. Courses commencing in May.

    • Theology of Work (Tent module) by Rev John Ting. This module will be held at Discipleship Training Centre (DTC), 33A Chancery Lane , over four Tuesday sessions - May 3, 10, 17 & 24, 7.30-9.30pm .
      Synopsis: Biblical teaching on the nature and consequences of work will be discussed and compared with contemporary understanding and practice. Some of the tensions that may arise between the demands of a secular job and the desire for involvement in ministry will be explored. Issues such as success, excellence, professionalism, authenticity, lifestyle and balance, and their implications will be considered.

    • Counselling Skills: Grief-Work (CO237, 1.5 credits) by Mr Song Cheng Hock will cover four Friday sessions on May 6, 13, 20 & 27 at 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd ( 7.15-10.15pm ).
      Synopsis: Grief is the natural reaction to any form of painful loss. It could be the loss of someone, or something (e.g. valuable assets), or security (e.g. a job), or close relationships (e.g. a divorce), or physical ability (e.g. poor health). This course intends to equip participants (pastors, care-givers, counselors) a fun damental understanding of grief, help them integrate the different theoretical models of grief processing and use them appropriately for grief interventions.  

If you intent to join these classes, kindly register early by calling us at 6227-6815 or e-mail:


A Blessed Birthday to…

Mr David Chan  18/4

Mr Kang Cheng Guan  18/4

Mr Chew Soon Lee  19/4

Dr Lee Soon Tai  19/4

Mr Lee Soon Yong  19/4

Dr Peter Wang  22/4


Mr Terry Wan  24/4

Ms Ong Bee Young  24/4

Ms Delene Lee  26/4

Mr Francis Yong  29/4

Mr Ryan Lovely  30/4

Mr Ng Kee Seng  30/4

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