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Tue, Mar 10, 2009
The Sunday Times
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Taking on different roles
by Tay Suan Chiang and Rachael Boon

Who: Director Christina Ng, 45, managing director Dave Wee, 44, their son Jeremy, 16, daughters Pamela, 13, and Isabel, 12, and housewife Loh Swee Eng, 76

Home: Two-storey bungalow in Yio Chu Kang

For Ms Ng and her husband Mr Wee, having her mother, Madam Loh, live with them was 'a natural thing to do'.

After all, Madam Loh and her husband, Mr Ng Khiok Meng, had taken care of the couple when they got married in 1992. Back then, the parents, the young newlyweds and an older sister all lived in an HDB maisonette in Serangoon North.

As the family grew bigger and as Ms Ng's parents got older, they moved to a semi-detached home in Yio Chu Kang, before moving to their current bungalow in 2007.

Madam Loh lives with Ms Ng, her younger daughter. Mr Ng, 71, lives with their elder daughter, Sook Fun, a civil servant, in an apartment in Serangoon.

This arrangement works well for the family. Ms Ng says: 'We see our parents daily and it gives us peace of mind that they are doing well.'

Although she has a maid to take care of the children, her mother also helps out by cooking their favourite food.

Madam Loh is happy with the arrangement too. 'We can help take care of each other,' she says. Indeed, the youngest child, Isabel, is often on the lookout for her grandmother. Madam Loh says: 'When I'm sick, she constantly reminds me to take my medication.'

Roles are clearly split among all parties. Madam Loh does the cooking and sometimes helps out with the housework. 'Mum is a good cook and she insists on doing it, so we let her,' says Ms Ng. The job of disciplining the children falls on the parents.

Ms Ng says living together means there is plenty of family bonding time. Sundays are mostly spent at home, with the children in the pool and grandma in the kitchen cooking. The whole family, including Mr Ng and Sook Fun, have dinner together on Sundays.

While there are six people living under one roof, each still gets his privacy.

The family live in a bungalow in Yio Chu Kang (right).

The family's two-storey bungalow comes with five bedrooms on the second floor. The front half of the house is where the couple's bedroom is.

The four remaining bedrooms are at the back and each one comes with an attached bathroom.

While it is still a long way before her children have families of their own, Ms Ng hopes that she and her husband will be able to live with her children and grandchildren one day.

'We hope the kids will still live with us, but we will leave it to them to decide,' she says.

This article was first published in The Sunday Times.

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