Tag Archives: Family

The Importance of Family- One Man’s Vision for His Country

If modern Singapore, with her economic successes and social stability, was an award-winning gourmet dessert, then Mr. Lee Kuan Yew would be the finest artisan who always remembered his most important ingredient: family values.

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, will be unquestionably remembered for his instrumental contributions to national development. He was an astute pioneer whose uncanny foresight led Singapore, time and again, to new social and economic heights; a nimble political leader who forged strong local and international relationships.

A Social Advocate
In the social institutions of family, marriage, and parenthood, Mr. Lee was no less a visionary. He consistently affirmed the importance of healthy social and family values, “of family structure, of social framework, of filial ties and bonds, which hold family units together”. He was a strong advocate of the three-generation family structure that has been “a great strength for continuity in bringing up of next generation” and has “transmitted social values, more by osmosis than by formal instruction”. “We must preserve this precious family structure if our society is to regenerate itself without loss of cultural vigour, compassion and wisdom1, concluded Mr. Lee.

Early in our nation’s development, Mr. Lee recognised the significance of youth development. In his National Day address in 1967, two years after independence, he affirmed the pivotal role of socio-emotional and moral education for youths:

But, in the long run, it is the quality of our youths that will determine our future. And we have to invest in them more than any other sector. Changes are taking place in the schools. The emphasis is now on content and quality. We want our schools to produce citizens who are healthy and hardy, with a sense of social purpose and group discipline, prepared to work and to pay for what they want, never expecting something for nothing. Our schools will train students in the classrooms, in the playing fields to make them healthy and robust. But even more important, they will teach our students high standards of personal behaviour, social norms of good and bad, right and wrong. Without these values, a literate generation may be more dangerous than a completely uneducated one.2

Mr. Lee was similarly well aware of social issues that posed potential risks to Singapore’s societal values. In 1978, he cautioned Singapore about the dangers of evolving family values:

Today, there are more divorces than there were ten years ago and remarriages and broken marriages. It’s all the sign of change for the worst. But we must try, in certain areas, to exclude experimentation until we are sure that it is an experiment which is successful and we won’t know for at least one generation, probably not for certain for two generations. In one generation, perhaps we can see whether it’s a failure and we need two generations to see whether it’s a success. And I am not sure at all that what I am seeing, experimenting with lifestyles… I don’t know. I think this is a curious world, this is a twilight world. Let’s go slow, let’s not change in this. I am by nature quite an adventurous man. I like to try… But in this case, I am quite sure something is going to happen. I say, ‘Don’t try.’ And this is the problem: Which areas don’t try? I think they are areas connected with the family and the next generation because that is how we have sustained ourselves.3

Nearly two decades ago, he predicted the social vulnerabilities of our times, asserting that “if we allow [the Internet] to make our people permissive, promiscuous, relaxed and it unravels the family and the extended family, then I say we are undone and finished, because family strength and social cohesion were the basis on which we built Singapore”.4

An Exemplary Husband and Father
Mr. Lee practiced privately what he advocated publicly. He made marriage a collaborative partnership with his wife and cherished their unity. Of his marriage, he describes:

We gradually influenced each other’s ways and habits as we adjusted to and accommodated each other. We knew that we could not stay starry-eyed lovers all our lives; that life was an on-going challenge with new problems to resolve and manage… We never argued over the upbringing of our children, nor over financial matters. Our earnings and assets were jointly held. We were each other’s confidant.5 [An excerpt from eulogy to his wife]

We have never allowed the other to feel abandoned and alone in any moment of crisis. Quite the contrary, we have faced all major crises in our lives together, sharing our fears and hopes, and our subsequent grief and exultation. These moments of crises have bonded us closer together. With the years, the number of special ties which we two have shared have increased. Some of them we share with the children.6 [Letter with advice on marriage to his son Lee Hsien Yang who got married in 1981]

He was an encouraging and engaging father. When asked about his and his wife’s expectations of the children, he replied:

No, as I said earlier. We did not try to shape their careers. We were both lawyers, but we did not think it was good to encourage them to be lawyers. Instead we asked: What are you good at? What are you interested in? What will give you pleasure and satisfaction, and you’re good at it?6

When asked about his use of the cane to discipline the children, he light-heartedly remarked:

No, I didn’t need a cane and didn’t have one. My wife’s cane was not used very often but she has caned them. The children knew that there are certain things you must not do. I would support my wife so that there’s no bickering between husband and wife, where the children say, “Oh, my father is right!” (Laughs) I gave my wife full support. I would back her. On the whole I would say it’s a harmonious family.6

The Icing and the Cake
For many of us, Mr. Lee’s gilt-edged legacy and reputation in nation-building will be memorialised in history. But for Mr. Lee, I believe they were only the icing on the cake. At his 80th birthday dinner, he revealed:

At the end of the day, what I cherish most are the human relationships. With the unfailing support of my wife and partner I have lived life to the fullest. It is the friendships I made and the close family ties I nurtured that have provided me with that sense of satisfaction at a life well lived, and have made me what I am.7

The preeminent artisan of Singapore believed only in the choicest ingredients: family ties and friendships. As we move forward in the days to come, let us therefore honour Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his ideals for family, marriage, parenthood, and friendship, preserving those values, and living out a legacy and inheritance he so passionately fought for and left behind.


  1. Lee, K. Y. (1982, February 7). Speech by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Chinese New Year reception on Sunday, 7 Feb 82, at Istana [Speech transcript]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/data/pdfdoc/lky19820207.pdf
  2. Lee, K. Y. (1967, August 8). Prime minister’s address on TV on the eve of National Day, 8th August, 1967 [Speech transcript]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/data/pdfdoc/lky19670808.pdf
  3. Lee, K. Y. (1978, May 31). Translation of the Prime Minister’s Question & Answer session at the Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union Seminar held at DBS auditorium on 31 May 1978 [Speech transcript]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/data/pdfdoc/lky19780531b.pdf
  4. Lee, K. Y. (2013). The wit & wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew. L. Davis (Ed.). Singapore: Editions Didier Millet.
  5. Lee, K. Y. (2010, October 10). Lee Kuan Yew: The last farewell to my wife. AsiaOne. Retrieved from http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/lee-kuan-yew-last-farewell-my-wife#sthash.9JSpx5Do.dpuf
  6. Lee, K. Y. (2011). Lee Kuan Yew: Hard truths to keep Singapore going. F. K. Han, Z. Ibrahim, M. H. Chua, L. Lim, I. Low, R. Lin, & R. Chan (Eds.). Singapore: Straits Times Press.
  7. Lee, K. Y. (2003, September 16). Speech by Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew at his 80thbirthday dinner held at the Shangri-La Hotel on 16 September 2003 at 9.45 pm [Speech transcript]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/speeches/view-html?filename=2003091603.htm

For Everything There is a Season

When I was asked to share my thoughts on 2014, I thought it would be easy – but it turned out to be the hardest blog post I’ve written as I witnessed many new seasons in 2014. While I use seasons figuratively, it was also literally true due to my student exchange to Brazil in the first half of the year.

A New Perspective on Poverty

My choice to go to Brazil was partially due to a family friend working there as a missionary. I was keen to learn about the social issues. Walking with him and his wife through the inner streets of Sao Paulo,  was truly an eye-opening experience, where I realised that external factors often play a greater role than personal action in how people end up trapped in poverty. This was reaffirmed upon my return to Singapore. I took a module which looked into the issues facing low-income Single Parent-headed Households here, and realised how important external circumstances were in shaping their current circumstance. It was truly a humbling experience to interview some single parents and learn about the struggles in providing for their family in spite of their best efforts. I will finish my last semester of studies in the middle of this year. My hope in 2015 is to find a job in the public sector in Singapore and to eventually influence policies that affect the social landscape in Singapore. In the meantime, I will look for opportunities to help the less fortunate in our society in any way I can.

A New Definition of Hospitality

Not being particularly fond of change, it was with some trepidation that I embarked on the exchange to Brazil. Thankfully, the people I encountered in Brazil made the experience a truly exceptional one. The small community of Singaporeans living in Sao Paulo provided amazing support and company over the course of my time there. My first dinner was spent with them, and the first trip out of Sao Paulo was also taken with them. These little tastes of Singapore made my time away from home much more bearable.

Photo credit: Abraham P.

The group of exchange students consisted of remarkable individuals from all over the world. One of these students really came to my rescue when I got locked out of my apartment when my parents came to visit me. He and his flatmate immediately opened their apartment to the three of us and did everything to ensure we were comfortable. We thanked them profusely and apologised in equal measure. My friend could not understand why we made such a big deal out of the situation because for him it seemed like the perfectly natural thing to do.

Finally, I was left amazed by the number of Brazilians who would just come up to me and strike up a conversation. That I never really got my Portuguese up to scratch did not stop them from wanting to find out where I come from and what my country is like. All these experiences really put me to shame. Valuing my own personal space, I cannot imagine myself being so enthusiastic about someone else staying in my house. Further, language barrier is for me the best excuse to get out of conversations. The months in Brazil really redefined for me what it means to be a good host, and I hope to take advantage of any chances to extend hospitality to the people I encounter.

A Renewed Appreciation of Family

I definitely felt the distance while I was away in Brazil, but I also continued to feel their support. My family, immediate and extended, encouraged me to go on the exchange, and then made sure I had everything I needed for my time away. While I was there, I knew they were always just a skype call away. Despite the crazy time difference, they managed to create the time to check in on me.

Photo credit: Abraham P.

Photo credit: Abraham P.

There was a scare while I was in Brazil when my grandmother suffered a heart attack. By God’s grace, she survived it. It was a reminder though of the fragility of life, and the need to make the most of every moment that we have with those we love.

2015 looks to be a year of great transition for my family. For one, I will finish my education and hopefully transit to working life. My family also had the joy of celebrating the engagement of my elder’s sister last year, and look forward to her wedding this year. However, it will be followed by the heartache of her moving over to Newcastle, where her fiancé is based. As I mentioned earlier, I am not particularly fond of change, and hence am a little apprehensive of what the coming year will bring. What the past year has emphasised for me though is that ‘In Every Season, there is Family’!

Abraham is an undergraduate who dreamed of playing professional football when he was 5 (and actually still does). While his love for football occupies a large part of his heart, the remaining portion is shared between his passion for photographing the wonders of God’s creation and love for his family.

Men and Destinations

couple driving on the road

Photo Credit: penelopejonze via Compfight cc

I’ve found that on road trips and holidays, some men can be a tad too particular about getting from Pt A to Pt B on time.

If we drive at 110km/h we can reach San Francisco in 6.5 hours.

“Honey, look, let’s stop for pastries at Solvang. The town looks pretty.”
“We can’t. It will throw our timing off and we will get caught in the traffic.”
“Honey, look, let’s stop by the beach coz it has a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.”
“Please, we don’t have time coz we’ll be late.”
“Late for?”
“Late in getting there in 6.5 hours.”

Years ago, there was a cruise ad in Australia targeted at widows that read “Taking you to places your late husband wouldn’t stop at.

Sometimes we can be so focused on getting to our destination that we fail to enjoy life’s beauty along the way.

I’m learning to do more of that. Now when I’m late in picking my wife, I tell her I had to stop to enjoy the moment.

Gary is the resident “blogger of few words” whose brevity and takes on love, life and daily interactions with his son are rather popular with readers. He loves his wife and son dearly, and enjoys jamming together with them as a family band.

Recognizing and Celebrating Each Child

October saw different ones sharing ways to love your children; to round up the series, I’ve been asked to share the principle Cheryl and I live by when it comes to loving our daughters and parenting in general:

Recognizing and celebrating each child’s uniqueness.

We believe that children are a gift from God, and recognize that each child is different. Therefore we purpose to appreciate, enjoy, and celebrate each child’s differences… and I would encourage you to do the same too.

How to recognize your child’s uniqueness (or differences) 
As you spend time with your children, communicating and observing them – you’ll be able to see the differences between them. Once we recognize that each child is unique, it’ll lead to us wanting to treat each child differently.

As a case in point, both my eldest and youngest daughter share the same primary love language (Words of Affirmation). Yet when it comes to displaying the language, what we say differs; I look for different traits and characteristics to praise.

My eldest daughter is hard worker, and has achieved many things, so Cheryl and I affirm her for her effort, and for living to her fullest potential. As for my youngest daughter, she is enthusiastic, and loves helping people, so we encourage and affirm her positive attitude. We celebrate her love and compassionate heart for others, and appreciate her for helping those around her.

We tell our daughters that their uniqueness is a gift, and we make it a point to celebrate their uniqueness and individuality.

Why celebrate each child’s uniqueness?
Some of my friends feel that if you have two children, where one is book smart and the other not so, you try to make the one who is not as book-smart less discouraged by not celebrating the result. In my view, it’s better to recognize each of their strong points rather than downplaying it.

This goes back to the first point where each child is different. Perhaps your child who is not as book-smart may be gifted in sports. Or perhaps your child enjoys baking, or writing new music. I am certain that there will certainly be an area for you to celebrate and take delight in, regardless of what it is.

For example, my younger daughter enjoys sports, and when she does well, we bring the whole family out to celebrate. One is better at arts, another is better in studying … I tell each of my daughters that it’s okay to excel in different areas, and we celebrate them all.

In essence, it’s about celebrating each child, not toning down celebrations for one. As you affirm and appreciate their differences, you’ll see them blossom and grow in confidence and stature.

A family that celebrates together stays together
When we celebrate one of my daughters, we do so as a family. Recently when one of my daughters came in 19th at a national sports meet, we had a nice dinner at home and commemorated the occasion with a cake. To us, it’s not about having a lavish celebration, but rather, a simple and meaningful affair.

That said, celebrations need not be confined to achievements; it should also be about the person and character. For example, if your child spends time volunteering at orphanage to read stories to the children you can celebrate and praise his/her compassionate nature.

In due course we noticed that it helped to tamper down the need for comparison and actually strengthened the sisterly bond between them. They are able to rejoice together with their sisters wholeheartedly and are proud of them.

As for Cheryl and I, we are proud of the young ladies our daughters are becoming, and would not have wanted it any other way.

Editor’s note: This post concludes our Loving our Children series. You can view the other posts in the series here. For inspiration on effective ways to love your children, visit our website and/or download a free activity pack!

Today’s post comes courtesy of Andy Sim, an IT professional by training. He is happily married and has 4 daughters.

Learning From My Parents: Daniel’s Perspective

My dad used to joke that we have two models in my immediate family: him and mom, because they are our role models. It’s true, though, because they truly are role models for Deborah (my twin sister) and I.

It is said that as a male, you will marry someone like your mother. And if you are female, you will marry someone like your father. As such, the role of parents in providing healthy role models for their children and its importance is obvious.The Lees

I remember that when they disagreed, they would quickly make up and apologize to each other. Longer, drawn-out arguments were a rarity, and the rarity of ‘serious’ arguments between Mom and Dad was seen when Deborah recently recounted that in Primary School, one of us said “please don’t get divorced!” after they fought.

Mom and Dad taught us to do the same (make up and apologize) when Deborah and I fought. They taught us different skills when it came to conflict management, and always tell me that my fights with Deborah are good ‘practice’ for when we get married.

One thing Dad taught us by example was the importance of family. I remember that when he travelled overseas, we would always plan a time to call each other via Skype. That would require deliberate planning as Singapore and the countries he visited were often in vastly different time zones. The intentionality of these scheduled calls was evident, and we saw that if we didn’t plan, there was virtually no way it was going to happen.

Putting it into place meant that the specified time was meant for family, and just because we were not in the same place (and time zone) did not mean that we were not going to talk to each other. Mom and Dad made it clear that family was a top priority; relating to one another was not a matter of convenience. Of course, Dad could have used the time to rewind or catch up on work, but the importance of family time, albeit virtual, was important.

Also related to travel, Mom demonstrated sacrifice for us. Often times Mom and Dad were supposed to travel together for work trips. However, considering that it would entail leaving their then-pre-adolescent (and eventually adolescent) children alone at home, Dad would often travel alone while Mom stayed home to hold down the fort.

Even though she could have entrusted us with someone else, she explicitly chose to stay on for our sake (and probably for hers as well, so she would not be so worried about us). Though it would obviously be refreshing to go to another country and not having to worry about childminding, Mom chose to give it up on many occasions.

Of course, doing it all the time would be unrealistic, and she did go with Dad a couple of times. People might say it is not always possible or preferred, but again, it is down to priorities: what you value you will show through your actions. What Mom and Dad have done over the years have certainly showed Deborah and I that they value our family.

When I have kids, I hope I will be a great role model for them; just as I learnt from my parents in order to pass those lessons on to my kids, I am sure they will pass it on to their kids. The impact of a parent goes beyond the immediate second generation.

Mom and Dad, thank you for being my inspirations, role models and parents. I Love you both!

Editor’s note: This post is written in conjunction with our Loving our Children series. We thought it’d be great to hear the impact parents have on their kids from young adults like Daniel and Abraham. For inspiration on effective ways to love your children, visit our website and/or download a free activity pack!

Daniel, our guest writer, is a second-year polytechnic student. His sister, Deborah, will be sharing her thoughts this Saturday on what’s she’s learnt from her parents. Be sure to keep a look out for it!

My Dear, Loving Parents…

As I embark on the 25th year of my life, I look back at how your love for me, expressed in words and deeds, has shaped the person I’ve become.

It has been a couple of hours since I wrote that first sentence, and I have only got this far because so many memories flood into my mind and I do not even know where to begin. To be honest though, it is only on hindsight that I realise the depth of love both of you have showered on me from a young age.

When I was much younger and gullible enough to believe that I knew what was best for myself, I did not always appreciate the things that you did. I recalled being angry and frustrated whenever you punished me, limited the amount of time I spent on the computer, and forced me to study. I know I was far from an easy child to handle, trying to work around the rules all the time. While it would have been easier to leave me to my own devices and let me deal with the consequences, your love meant investing the time, energy and emotion to persevere and effect change in my life. Thank you for this sacrificial love which required the giving of yourself in order to bring out the best in me.

Thank you also for loving me and my siblings equally, for this is the surest indication that your love is unconditional. There were times when I did think that perhaps you did love my other siblings more than me, but this was solely down to my feelings that my siblings were better than I. However, nothing in your words or actions ever portrayed favouritism of any sort, and I soon dispelled the idea. Being such a strong introvert, there are many times when I just feel like not engaging in conversations. The fact that I am loved for who I am, and not what I do, gives me the freedom to truly be myself without having to worry about being thought of as less at home.

I know that the foundation of your unconditional, sacrificial love is God’s love. However, I believe that it is also enabled by your love for each other. It is the collective love from the both of you which has really made me feel so loved over the years. There is a certain complementariness about your love that enhances and adds value to the individual love. The few times that the two of you have had differences, I could feel the changes in your relation with me. This made it evident to me that your love for each other is a source of strength out of which you are able to love me to the extent that you do.

You used to joke that I put up my hand when God asked who wants to join this family. If it were true though, it would be my best decision to date. I cannot even begin to imagine life without the love that you have showered upon me. I hope my future wife and I will be just like you; whoever puts up their hands in heaven to join my family will be able to experience the full extent of love that I have received from you.

With much love.

Your son,

Editor’s note: In conjunction with our Loving our Children series, we thought it’d be great to hear from young adults. Abraham is the first, with more to come. If you are inspired to love your children, you can discover effective ways to love them on our website and download a free activity pack!

Abraham is an undergraduate who dreamed of playing professional football when he was 5 (and actually still does). While his love for football occupies a large part of his heart, the remaining portion is shared between his passion for photographing the wonders of God’s creation and love for his family.

3 Phrases Your Children Should Learn From You

Children learn more from what you are than what you teach

Parents, our children watch and learn from how we act – and this includes what we do and say. They will reflect our behavior subconsciously (i.e. not deliberately) so we need to model the behavior we want to see in our kids.

To create a positive home environment and be a role model for your kids, here are 3 phrases that you should use:

+ I’m Sorry
Although our children believe we are perfect and/or superheroes, the truth is that we are only human – and will make mistakes. Your hunger can cause you to be worse than Oscar the Grouch, you may blurt out something wrong by accident, or you could forget your child’s all-important performance in school … many things can happen, and it can’t be helped.

So instead of trying to run from it, deal with the mistakes instead by learning to say sorry. And when your children see you stepping up to apologize, they learn that (a) it’s okay to make a mistake and (b) saying sorry isn’t as difficult or intimidating as they think it to be.

Tip: If saying sorry is difficult, think about this: what matters more, being right or making amends?

+ I Love You
The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman are widely known: quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and words of affirmation.

Even if your family’s love language is not words of affirmation, it is still important to say “I love you”. Most people still need to hear “I love you” in order to feel that they are loved, and by verbalizing your love for your family members, especially your children, it reassures them and reinforces the fact that you love them,

Tip: If you can’t bring yourself to say “I love you”, why not send a message or leave a note for them somewhere obvious (like in the toilet)?

+ Thank You
Showing your appreciation is a powerful way to affirm your family members, and also shows that you recognize the efforts that they have put in. When you say “thank you”, you send a message to your children that showing gratitude for those around them is important, and they will learn to do the same as well 🙂

Tip: When you start saying “thank you”, go beyond the things that people do for you, but start thanking them for who they are!