The Department of Statistics revealed that about one in five marriages (22.1%) in 2017 were inter-ethnic which is nearly 3 times from the 7.6% reported in 1990. It is pretty obvious as we see more preschoolers of mixed parentage in child care centres today.
Karra Ong Chae Eun (9) and Kayden Ong Min Jae (6), siblingsof Singaporean-Korean parentage, are examples of children belonging to this group. Their parents, Janssen Ong and Keum Mi Hwa, met in Taiwan back in 2006 when daddy was holidaying while mummy was pursuing a Chinese language course there.
While one may think that Singapore and Korea culture may not differ much given their roots originated in Asia, this is certainly not so. And it is certainly very different in terms of the methods of parenting and expectations from both parents.
Academic-wise, Singapore parents tend to expect much more from their children. Janssen remarked “I would use the word ‘DBL’ to sum up what Singapore parents hope their children will achieve when they grow up. To become doctors, bankers, lawyers…to get Double Degrees…”
Thus, the stress is very much on achieving exemplary academic results so that they can be successful in life. On the other hand, Korean parents identify the intrinsic potential of their children and try to develop them in those areas. There are so much opportunities in industries such as arts, sports, science where professions in these areas are highly sought-after and well paid too. “This was also why I decided to take a step back to ask my children what they really like to learn, and I find opportunities for them to do so.” The couple then enrolled Kayden in an Arts School after seeing how much potential and passion he has towards drawing.
Other notable differences or challenges include the occasional preference of one race over the other (due to comfort level towards the language, lifestyle, TV programmes, food etc), confusion over the various cultural celebrations, multilingualism (learning different languages but not mastering enough of any).
On the other hand, Karra & Kayden can certainly connect and make friends easily with other children of difference races since they know they are just like them. Whatever the path ahead holds for them, this family is certainly treasuring and enjoying each day in their exciting journey together.