Celeb mum Wong Li Lin: My divorce changed me

The media personality dishes on life as a single parent, her job as a corporate executive…and dating!

Celeb mum Wong Li Lin: My divorce changed me

Splitting up is not only hard on the individual, it is that much more tough when you have to consider the well-being of your children. Former actress Wong Li Lin, 44, knows this only too well. She states, “Divorce has profoundly and emphatically changed me.”

In the four years since she parted ways with her TV host ex-husband Allan Wu, 44, Li Lin says that she helped her kids get through the divorce by “mindfully” putting their needs before her own.

Indeed, as her offspring’s main caregiver ― Allan travels extensively for work ― Li Lin is juggling mummy duties with a full-time job to provide stability for her adolescent kids, son Jonas, 11, and daughter Sage, 13.

It was the need for stability that motivated Li Lin to look for a 9-to-5 job. Explains the former Triple Nine actress and judge on The Dance Floor, “Stability [for the kids] meant keeping as much [of the] reassuring routines children can count on to thrive. It would be difficult to design such a life around the schedule of a media personality.”

As the deputy director (project office) at Thomson Medical, Li Lin helps develop new concepts at Thomson Wellth, which provides wellness and health services. She notes, “I love soaking in new information, processing it to grow the business. [On the other hand,] I have a hard time with politics — this exists in all organisations, of course, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant.”

The fit and fab mum gives SmartParents the lowdown on how she balances parenting duties with her ex-husband, caring for her kids…and the status of her dating life.

Celeb mum Wong Li Lin: My divorce changed me

As a single parent, do you feel like you bear the brunt of parenting Jonas and Sage?
That would be a fact. But it’s also a choice, so, no complaints.

How do you share parenting responsibilities with Allan?
Allan is unable to provide a set schedule when it comes to his time, so the parenting responsibility sits squarely with me. However, when he’s in Singapore, he will spend time with the kids such as taking them for the weekend to their activities and exercising with them.

What are your challenges as a single working mum?
Time and energy are real issues every working mum faces. For single mums, you can add money to the list.

What kind of mum are you — strict or cool?
I try to be a discerning mum. I’m strict when it is needed and relaxed when not. And always coming from a place of love. But I don’t know about cool… haha.

Any house rules regarding your kids’ use of gadgets and social media activities?
Jonas has three hours a week on his electronics as a base which he can use at his discretion. He also gets extra time for certain chores. It’s harder to manage Sage’s time on the phone ― you can’t tell when it’s research, checking in with friends on homework, Instagram or games. She’s generally a very accountable individual, who manages her time okay but like most parents, I do see an increasing reliance on their gadgets.

Your thoughts on corporal punishment as a form of discipline?
My definition of corporal punishment is a smack on the hand, for instance. Nothing that relates to physically overcoming another being. I did try it out when I was a new parent and I’ve decided that it is not a go-to as a form of discipline. By and large, I try to have the children understand action and consequence through dialogue and reason.

That said, I think corporal punishment could have its place. I feel, the key factor in disciplinary measures is that they must always be considered and not be meted out during the heat of the moment. They cannot be unfairly imposed, either. I think there is value in the clarity that action A will result in consequence B.

What is your goal as a parent?
I’ve always felt that a parent’s job is to love, guide and provide life skills. I would be satisfied as a parent knowing that my child is confident about his and her place in the world, so they are able to identify the outcomes of their needs and map the paths towards achieving them. I would like them to be able to navigate what comes their way — whether emotions or complex tax systems — with agility and savvy, and be able to help others because they have been competent with managing themselves.

Have you any advice for our single-parent readers?
Provide stability for yourself and your children by getting your existing needs sorted. Speak to people who are good with money to help you, if need be. For everything else, just one foot in front of the other. Find the beauty and gifts in your life, then the world would seem a lot less frightening.

(Continued on next page: Is Wong Li Lin open to dating again?)

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