Revelations of a Staycation – What a Weekend Away Taught me about Investing

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We don’t normally do staycations, but we did one last weekend. Friday evening we packed up and left home for an overnight stay. We had dinner out, had a bit of a runabout before tucking the kids into bed. Once they were fast asleep, the wife and myself had a bit of quiet time chatting under the stars with lapping waves. It was a good break for everyone.

The next morning we bought the kids for a long walk in the adjourning park. We packed breakfast and had fruit when we were tired from walking. It was all great fun.

The kids enjoyed themselves totally. When asked if they want to do it again, their answer was a resounding yes.

We were glad we pushed ahead with it despite the misgivings we had initially. For one, the logistics were a pain. Packing an overnight bag for two adults is still managable. Packing an overnight bag for a frisky toddler and a little baby is an exponentially difficult task. Milk bottles, shower stuff, diapers, PJs, they all add up.

And because we were fortunate enough to be staying with my extended family, the task seemed even more daunting. At home, we had the luxury of taking our eyes off the kids for a while while other adults keep them occupied. Over the weekend, it was a straight on fight – us vs kids, 2 vs 2. There was no letting up.

I joked with my wife that we actually end up more tired after the staycation. She agreed.

Hands on Parenting

I know of a friend who is the sole caregiver of two toddlers while her husband travels for work. Adrian Tan goes one up, constantly challenging himself by bringing his brood of three young ones out alone. I do not know how they do it.

On one hand I believe in hands on parenting, about spending time with my kids and partaking in their growing moments. On the other, I understand how tough it can be to be constantly involved.

It is a struggle I face all the time. Shall I spend the afternoon bringing the kids out, or shall I spend it working or writing an article (this one). The kids take at least an hour to complete their bedtime routine, sometimes even more. Am I up to it after a long day of work or shall I spare myself the frustration (sometimes) and let my wife handle it?

Hands off Parenting

During Chinese New Year visitations, we would always bump into this cousin W. A few years older than us, she had two daughters.

Since they were infants, the two girls have been staying with their grandparents. They were bought home during the weekends while their W and her husband worked throughout the week. I remembered her saying that sometimes she did not even bother to bring them home for a few weekends, just dropping by instead for a quick visit. She had her own life to lead, so she proclaims.

Many years ago, I remembered being somewhat disturbed at the situation. Why would a parent want to have kids but keep them at arms length? Why would they not want to participate in the growing up years? How would the kids turn out eventually with seemingly non-existent parents?

Recently, we met again. The elder has just finished her A’ Levels while the younger is halfway through secondary school. Fine young ladies we all agreed.

What struck me was how close W and the girls were. Their interactions eluded a vibe of mutual respect and warm friendship instead of stone cold distrust and the ‘what the hell are you thinking of – you don’t tell me what to do’ interaction template so many teenagers nowadays have with their parents.

I have no idea what or who to credit their transformation into sensible young adults to. I do have a nagging suspicion that it has to do with the somewhat hands off parenting style that W practices. By giving them space, they were able to grow into their own persons.

Hands On Parenting vs Hands Off Parenting

I am not saying one style is better than the other. Different strokes work for different folks. For all we know, because of her laissez faire attitude W’s kids could have ended up delinquent. Another set of hands on parents might have been good influence on their kids without being over stifling.

For me, the struggle has always been about trying to find the balance. On one hand, I want to be part of their lives and share their moments. They will only be one year old and three year old once, and they will never be tiny again. On the other hand, I also think that being over obsessed with tiny details in their lives will be doing them (and ourselves as parents) more harm than good.

There is no textbook answer to this.

Parenting and Investing

Parenting rants and personal struggles aside, I have long maintained that parenting and investing have much in common. This recent revelation further strengthened this belief.

In investing, we all want to do more. We want to read more news, we want to buy more stocks. We want to learn more about technical analysis. We want to find out more about the companies that we own. We not only want to buy stocks, we want to buy gold and options and bonds. We not only want to invest in Singapore, but in emerging and frontier markets such as Vietnam and Myanmar.

Many of us try to be active investors, thinking that more action is better. We fail to ask ourselves if being so actively involved is actually causing harm to our investments instead.

Children, toddlers all the way to teenagers, do not react well to parents being overbearing and reacting to their every action. I am sure our investments feel the same way too!

  • There are reasons why human being which normally seem like a more superior specie does not immediately learn very quickly to walk or feed like some others. The emotion feeliing to care for and being taken care are bonding that cannot be born with. However some parents have extend their love to extreme and force their so called love into unwanted pressure that make difficult relationship later. We can see a lot of examples around us. For parents is always is struggle how to give and not give too much? In the old days, it is seem easiler becos most parents just do not have so much time with so many children. Maybe that is not too bad too.

    • Thanks for reading Eric, wherever you are. The grandparents rock. I am sure you will be just as awesome when you become one next time.

  • Wow,

    Wasn’t expecting that twist from your cousin W. But I guess there could be some merits to that argument, considering how much parents fret nowadays.

    • Hey 15HWW,

      After I wrote this article I travelled for work and attended a BBQ in a public park in Australia. The Aussie parents set their kids loose in the massive playground. The Asian ones kept theirs on a tight leash and there is constantly someone chasing after them with their water bottles and snacks and etc. It is really very different.

      There are not enough parenting and personal finance articles out there. Join me. Write some soon!

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