While every parenting journey is unique, there are some things that all Singaporean parents share, celebrities included! PSLE preparation, tuition, long hours of staring at screens, and the possible toll it takes on children’s eyes, there’s really no running away from it. We spoke to a well-known celebrity dad, Mark Lee, to find out more about his parenting journey with his son, Maksonn. Read on to find out all about it! We started off by asking the one thing that perhaps everyone wants to know:
How has Maksonn felt about being the son of a celebrity?
Maksonn is aware of his father’s profession. He finds it interesting that he has a celebrity father, especially a comedian. I feel that, maybe, he is proud of his father being a celebrity.
Photo credit @marklee 本土天王 李国煌
You have always been in the media industry, and you are a household name – for being a comedian. Has that affected your parenting style? Are you the strict persona at home?
No, because once I’m home my role is a dad. If my kids do the right things, we will praise and reward them. But if they do something wrong, we will punish them. I am a parent with clear rewards and punishments. During their examination period, I am usually stricter. But I spend the weekends with them, during which I am usually in a more relaxed mood. I understand that they face a lot of pressure with schoolwork, homework, and examinations so I don’t want them to feel the same way to at home. That’s why I try to make them feel at ease as much as possible. When there is a need to be strict or serious, then I will do so.
Maksonn is now in Primary 5 and it will be time to start preparing him for PSLE. What are some challenges that you and Maksonn currently (and might face) with the increased stress in Singapore’s education system?
Having a good learning attitude is very important. I believe that if you have a good learning attitude, it positively impacts your academic results. In the weeks leading up to the examination period, we usually increase the frequency of Maksonn’s tuition lessons. This means that he needs to look at the computer screen because at times his tuition is online. Such situations cause him to strain his eyes. Like many other parents, I might not have noticed his degree increasing slowly. Thankfully, as a father who wants the best for my child, I protect his eyes by bringing him for regular eye checkups and making him use the right eyewear in addition to going. It’s a good thing that we have invested in a very good set of lenses that will not tire his eyes easily or increase his eye degree.
During exams, there is a lot of revision and tuition, but we ensure he takes breaks in between sessions. Instead of studying all day, we give Maksonn a break to play outside, to ride a bicycle or play badminton. After that, he will have a meal, take a shower and continue with revision. As such, we approach the exam season with a relatively relaxed attitude.
Photo credit @marklee 本土天王 李国煌
Stress can put a toll on a child, including their eyesight. Can you tell us how you felt when you found out that Maksonn is Myopic? How old was he? How and when did you realise that he needed to have his eyes checked?
Maksonn was diagnosed with Myopia when he was only 7 years old. (We noticed that he would squint to focus while looking at things, as he is unable to see clearly. When he was reading a book, he would bring it closer to his eyes. We suspected that it could be due to Myopia which was why we brought him for an eye check-up.) I was rather concerned as these days it is increasingly common for children to become myopic at a younger age. Back in the day, I was X years old when I started wearing glasses. However, our children’s lifestyle is different. They spend more time viewing things at close range, like playing with their devices or reading books for long periods. Moreover, they don’t spend enough time outdoors and this can affect their vision.
When Maksonn got his first spectacles, tell us what happened? Was there an improvement?
Maksonn’s first spectacles were with normal lenses, which I learned later are called single vision lenses. However, I was concerned that his eyesight was quickly deteriorating. In less than 6 months, his power increased by 50 degrees. That was when I sought the advice of a Myopia expert and he recommended Essilor® StellestTM Lenses for controlling Maksonn’s myopia progression. I am really glad we got the right advice as after he got Stellest Lenses, Maksonn was able to adjust quickly. His recent eye check shows that his myopia progression slowed down so we are pleased with the results.
Could you describe what you felt was great about your journey from discovering that Maksonn has Myopia, to getting him tested, and finding the right treatment for his condition?
It’s a great relief Maksonn’s myopia progression slowed down. The Myopia expert explained to me that controlling Myopia progression is important because if it is not managed, the risk of developing high Myopia later in life increases for the child. (This would be a huge problem for any child or teen and will affect their quality of life.)
My concern as a dad is that children do not speak up when they cannot see clearly. The deterioration in their vision affects their learning, which is not ideal in terms of homework and grades, and of course, everyday life. The last thing I want is for Myopia to negatively affect my son’s confidence and his learning. With the correct tools – like spectacles, it will help improve their vision so they can understand and learn better. This will lead to better school grades as well, in turn helping build his confidence and the correct attitude towards learning. It’s a cycle. If he gets a good score in the school exams, he will feel confident in the subject, and he will be very happy. We have been students before; we know that if you fail the subject, you will lose confidence. But if you pass the subject, your confidence in that subject will be higher.
How is his vision now and how is he performing in school and activities with his new spectacles? How is his experience with it?
When Maksonn first started wearing his new Stellest Lenses, he took about 3 to 4 days to get used to to it and adjust. Before he knew it, everything returned to normal. He got used to it very quickly. Whether it was sports, occasionally going out for a movie, cycling on weekends or doing some other outdoor activity, it didn’t have much impact on him. In fact, he doesn’t have to strain his eyes anymore as he feels comfortable and very relaxed.
Also, since the last check-up, his myopia progression has remained under control. His power did not regress like before, when he was wearing only single vision lenses. With single vision lenses, his power progressed by 50 degrees in just 6 months so this is a great improvement.
Do you have any tips to share with other parents who may have gone through the same journey as you did when you discovered your son may have an eye condition?
Photo credit @marklee 本土天王 李国煌
It is important to choose the right lenses for your child. With our previous lenses, we noticed that Maksonn’s eyes were strained and got very tired easily. One thing I would like to share with other parents is to ensure that your child has breaks in between study / screen time. For Maksonn, during these breaks, we will take a walk outside with him and look at some greenery or ask him to close his eyes and rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. This means no screens, no watching television or looking at the computer. To allow him to rest his eyes and relax his mind before returning to his revision or homework, we would usually chat with him.
The most important thing is for children to not strain their eyes. If they are are reading a book, looking at a computer screen or looking at any digital device for too long, their eyes will get very tired. I cannot emphasise the importance of taking enough breaks in between revision time. Don’t let them revise for three to four hours in a row. Call them out after one and a half hours just to relax, take a walk or just to chat with them. Even if it is a short stroll, it would make a difference.
How did you end up endorsing a product for the first time with your son? Why did you decide to endorse this particular Myopia management lens product among so many other products that have been trying to get you and your son?
The main reason is that one of the most important aspects of parenthood is your child’s health. When I got to know about the Essilor® StellestTM Lenses, I was open to the idea of having Maksonn’s eyes checked and to get him lenses that would give him clear vision and help to control his Myopia progression.
I was also impressed with the technology and the claims that Essilor® StellestTM Lenses has. After using the Essilor® StellestTM Lenses for a period of time, I found out that Maksonn had adapted well to his new spectacles, and his eyes did not tire easily. When we brought him to the optical store for his routine checkup, I found out that his myopia progression was under control. So far, he likes his spectacles and his lenses. As parents, we feel more relieved and at ease. I always thought that all spectacles and lenses were the same but we don’t know much about them. After finding out about Essilor® StellestTM Lenses, I realised that it is very different. It has many tiny dots on it if you pay close enough attention. These lenses are different from others and after Maksonn used it for a period of time, we discovered that his degree progression was under control despite the fact that the time he spent on his homework or revision remained as per normal. Therefore, I agreed to endorse this product.
So there you go, mums and dads. You heard it from Mark Lee himself! We hope that you’ve picked up some useful tips and tricks for parenting and exam preparation. Do also remember to protect your child’s eyesight in the midst of it all. Myopia is increasingly common amongst Singaporean children, so it’s important that you keep a look out for it. If your child does have Myopia, then take the necessary steps to keep its progression under control. This will go a long way in helping you to raise happy and healthy children!