How Can We Parent with the Help of Holy Spirit?
"When I learn to love myself, I can see my kids the way that God sees them.”
Desmond and Elaine Ng are dentists based in Singapore, with three young children.
This is part 2 of our conversation with Desmond and Elaine. View part 1 here.
Having studied at Bethel recently must have taught you so many lessons, particularly in the time of COVID-19. What would you say are the top 3 things you learned?
Elaine: The first lesson I learned was to love myself, and see how God sees me and love me. I realized how powerful I am in Christ, and that God is proud of me.
The second lesson would be to take risks, and even celebrate my failures. I had a mentor who encouraged me to give words of knowledge, and not beat myself up when I got things wrong.
The last lesson would be everything I learned about parenting. When I learn to love myself, I can see my kids the way that God sees them, and call out the gold in them.
For example, when we came back to Singapore, Esther didn’t do very well for her Chinese (language studies). She felt really upset by it. I told her, “Hey, it’s okay. Just try your best. We’re proud of you for giving your best.”
Before this time, the ‘control freak’ in me always tried to control my children. Even when it came to how they dressed. I would try to force her to wear something she didn’t like. God had to speak to me about apologizing to the kids. Now I say things like, “Oh, you have great fashion sense and you’re going to be a fashion designer when you grow up!”
“Stay connected. More than anything, it’s this connection that kids really need.” -Elaine Ng
Another example would be that Esther always asks me to color with her. But I’ll be busy cooking and cleaning, so I will just tell her to color by herself. One day, I asked her, “What’s one thing that we can do to make you feel more loved?” And she said, “When I ask you to color with me, just color with me.” So I learned that I really need to spend time with the kids and empathize with their feelings.
Following up on that, what would you advise other parents when it comes to parenting? You both have busy careers as dentists, yet manage to be intentional when it comes to spending time with your kids.
Elaine: Don’t feel guilty. I think moms tend to feel guilty very easily. So for me, I don’t feel guilty about having to work – I just feel sad I don’t get to spend as much time with them. And I share my feelings with the kids.
God had taught me that my patients need me, my students need me, as well as my children. So I don’t feel guilty, but I acknowledge my feelings and never give up.
I also think quality time with the kids is more important than quantity. When I first went back to work, I had this fear that things would go back to how they used to be. Maybe my kids would be closer to my helper (nanny) than to me.
But I learned it’s about the quality and not quantity, and connecting with them. If they’re sad, just give them a hug. I learned not to give them solutions or try to fix things, but cry with them when they cry or just sit with them. For me, it’s learning to co-parent with the Holy Spirit, always ask Him for His input, for his advice. And stay connected. More than anything, it’s this connection that kids really, really need.
Desmond: I remember this one time when Daniel couldn’t sleep. For three hours, he was just crying and crying. We were so frustrated and were tempted to just make threats like, “Stop this behavior right now. All these toys are going to be taken away from you if you don’t stop.” But we knew these things wouldn’t help – he still wouldn’t sleep.
After three hours I had this thought, “Is he feeling scared?” And the Holy Spirit gave me this memory of earlier in the day when he was watching a Disney cartoon and a bad guy came on the screen. He came up to me and said, “Oh Daddy, Daddy, look at that guy!” The Holy Spirit gave me this flashback. So I asked Daniel, “Hey, Daniel, are you not sleeping because you’re scared of the bad guy that you saw?” He replied, “Yes.” And then I said, “Would you like to invite Jesus to come and be with you so you won’t be scared?” We did that, and Jesus blessed his spirit and gave him peace. He slept the rest of the night!
Being able to identify what was going on in Daniel’s heart actually helped in that connection. Daniel felt understood. He realized Daddy gets him and that he cares.
It’s not based on the old ‘fear of punishment’, and it’s not just behavior modification. It’s more important for them to realize, “Oh, my heart is connected to daddy or mommy.” So I feel like that’s what we should be going after as parents.
The key is learning to listen to the Holy Spirit. A lot of times there’s so much noise around us that we don’t hear Him. But He will give us the keys and the answers we need.
Moving to California with a young family must have been a difficult process. Can you share ways that God helped you miraculously during this time?
Desmond: When you make a big move, God doesn’t just leave you hanging and say, “Now you go out on your own.” He’s always there in the process, and we discovered that He had actually worked everything out for us ahead of time.
The way God gave us a house was so divine. We ended up renting from a couple who are like spiritual parents to us. They were instrumental in our whole move to Bethel. We wanted to learn more from them and sit under their covering and anointing, and we ended up staying in their house!
“The breakthrough was actually finding out who I am, and who God created me to be.” -Desmond Ng
It was only because we asked them, “Hey, what do you think of this house that we’re planning to rent?” They told us, “No, that house is not in a good neighborhood. But we have a house, and you can have it for this price,” which was below its market value. An added bonus was that they had only had the house for a few months. So everything in it was brand-new – furniture, appliances, everything. We wouldn’t have gotten that in any other house.
Right after we came back to Singapore, they sold the house. It was as though God just gave us that house to stay in, with the perfect landlords, at the perfect time we needed it.
When we returned to Singapore, we were once more looking for a place to stay. There were so many options, but we didn’t feel peace in any of them. But we also didn’t feel any panic.
Eventually we saw this place, and we realized, “God must be in this.” We realized this because it was the house we’ve always wanted. It had a staircase, which our kids had always desired. The house was in a place called “Corona Ville”, right in the middle of the coronavirus.
He gave us this house in a very good location, close to the key schools and closer to our work. It also is close to nature, so we can go out for more hikes and bicycle rides. The previous owners even left behind their furniture, which we needed.
It’s just a perfect community, with everyone looking out for one another and friends for the kids to play with. God gave us all the desires of our heart by leading us to the perfect place, for us and our kids.
Desmond, we got Elaine’s three lessons from Bethel. What stood out for yourself?
Desmond: My main breakthrough was about my identity. It’s easy in Christian circles to hear this thing about your identity, but it can be really generic. What does it really mean to be a child of God?
Growing up, my identity was always tied to performance. I thought I would only be good if I got a hundred percent on my exam, or if I became a doctor or lawyer or something like that. My identity was tied in to how well I performed, how much I was earning, the house I lived in, or the car I drove.
I often thought that God created me to be a follower and to copy other people. If other people do well, and I do what they do, then I will be good too.
Even in ministry, I would look at people and think, “Wow, this guy has so much revelation, I wish I could be like Bill Johnson, I wish I had the knowledge that he does.” Or I would think, “Kris Valloton is so funny. Why can’t I be like Kris?” There was always a lot of comparison. The breakthrough was actually finding out who I am, and who God created me to be.
In Bethel, we had to do this thing called city service. Every student has to sign up for a way in which you can bless the community. I signed up for dream interpretation. I thought I could grow more in this useful gift. But then when they gave us our assignments, I was given the duty of transcribing testimonies instead.
As I did this job, I found out, “Wow! I love this so much!” I discovered that this is what I’m called to do. It makes me come alive. I could sit there by myself, plugged into the computer and headphones, and watch videos. It makes me come alive.
I realized that God knows what I need to be doing. He knows what I enjoy. I always thought that to be useful, I needed to be very “rah-rah”. I needed to be able to organize rallies and similar things. But God really cares about what makes us come alive.
God brought healing in the area of self-hatred. So that was the first big breakthrough for me – my identity.
The second breakthrough was with regards to our marriage. We actually fought every day when we first arrived in California. It was terrible – quarreling and quarreling. I asked myself, “Why did God bring us all the way here just so we could quarrel with each other?”
But there were a lot of things that we just never got to while we were in Singapore. We never even saw these issues, because life was stable, routine and comfortable. We could go long periods of time without really talking to each other.
But in Bethel, He brought up all these things that still needed healing. He confronted our false belief systems, and showed us that if we confronted these things with truth our marriage could be healed. He reminded us that we love each other, and we don’t need to perform for each other. Our root issues from the past were confronted and healed.
The last thing I would mention was about the response to COVID-19. COVID-19 was something that nobody expected, and the church had to shut down. The kids had to be homeschooled and our life was really thrown into chaos. It was tough because you have to be more – we had to be students, cook, cleaner, everything. And we had to be stuck at home!
But at Bethel, they don’t focus on what the enemy is doing, they focus on what God is doing. I learned to ask, “God, what are you doing through the coronavirus? What do you want me to know? What do you want me to do?”
So I learned to have no fear, whatever the outcome of something like coronavirus is. Just leave it to God – He will bring the breakthrough.
Desmond and Elaine went through various challenges early in their marriage and almost got divorced, before meeting God and receiving supernatural healing at a program called Love After Marriage. They recently graduated from Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, in Redding, California.
Check out part one of our conversation with Desmond and Elaine here.