Singapore's taxi uncles share their parenting wisdom
Singapore taxi drivers often dispense more advice and opinions than we need. But hidden amongst all that talk, are some real parenting gems.
In Singapore’s balmy weather, taxis provide a welcome respite as we shuttle from one place to another.
Our chatty local taxi uncles make our rides even more enjoyable and interesting. They’re armed with a wealth of knowledge and have an opinion on almost everything from politics to local food haunts, and of course on how to bring up children!
And you know what, we should listen to them (well sometimes, at least) because many of our taxi uncles continue to be amazing dads and granddads, despite literally being on the road for such long hours.
How do they do it?
Well they have their ways, it seems. We share out favourite nuggets of parenting advice that taxi uncles have offered to us mums from time to time.
1. Spare the rod and spoil the child
“Just rotan them!” Mr Syed, 41 exclaims. Taxi uncles often cite stellar results from firm disciplinary rules. Having been on the receiving end of such stern punishment themselves as kids, they’re proud endorsers of this method. Many of them feel that the younger generations are “like tofu – little bit also cry, call mother, call father. Alamak.”
Taxi uncles are a tough bunch and they definitely expect the same from their children!
2. The family that eats together, stays together
Being a taxi driver allows them to have flexible timings, and most uncles take advantage of this to have dinners with their family.
Some taxi uncles will even choose to forego the peak hour surcharge to stay with their family over this meal. Mr Lim Boon Sun, 52 attests to the joys of a simple home-cooked meal with his four children. “Almost 30 years now I’ve been a taxi driver, and I make sure I’m home for dinner everyday. Money cannot finish to earn one. I enjoy my wife’s cooking. I enjoy hearing my children’s stories about their day.”
Amidst their busy work schedules, family meals are a treasured family ritual.
3. Teach them frugality
Taxi drivers know how difficult it is to earn a stable income.
With high rentals, stressful road conditions and demanding customers, their job is no bed of roses. While many of them are out on the road fighting for a better life for their children, they also know that no matter how stable their children’s jobs are right now, anything could happen in time to come.
Frugality is a virtue many taxi drivers seek to pass on to their future generation.
“Nowadays you youngsters come into my cab and you all like to use NETS. I say to use cash because there’s a thirty cents surcharge, but you all usually don’t care. I know thirty cents is nothing now, but sikit sikit lama lama jadi bukit!” quips Mr Syed.
4. Learn to be technologically savvy
Taxi uncles usually do not have the safety net of a pedigreed education to fall back on but many of these young-at-heart daddies are surprisingly ready to learn new skills to keep up with their children and grandchildren.
They’re also happy that it provides more convenience for them.
As Raymond Ang, a taxi driver for the past five years tells it, “I use iPad to see my lottery. And now there is Grabtaxi, so that’s an additional source of income. Then, there’s this new thing (Snapchat), they put videos about their day then I just see the videos, so I know what they have been up to!”
Taxi uncle Raymond’s stalking skills are ninja level indeed.
5. Love your wife
As parents, we all dread the day our kids fly the nest.
Taxi uncles have the perfect solution – “take that time as a special bonding time with your wife.” Not only are most of our taxi uncles great daddies, many of them think it is as important not to neglect their wives.
Raymond, who has two working adult children, relates that after his children left the home, he enjoys the alone time he has with his wife. “She has been cooking for me, taking care of my children and the household. Now I try to pamper her. What empty nest? It’s our er ren shi jie!” he says with a big grin.
Being a loving husband sets up good role models for their children to become family men as well – as taxi uncle Mr Syed wisely states “Most important, what we want our children to be, we ourselves must be first.”
We love the casual yet informative chats we had with them. Thumbs up, Uncles!
Do you know of a taxi uncle who is an outstanding dad? Or is your dad is a taxi uncle whom you have nothing but respect for his hard work and love? Share with us their stories in the comments below!