Tag Archives: learning

Learning From My Parents: Deborah’s perspective

When I think of Mum, I think of kindness. I think of the chocolates she buys back from the numerous trips she and Dad made to overseas; half of what she buys is typically gifts for other people. Back home, whenever she finds seasonal rarely-found fruits like peaches or cherries, she always brings some to share with her siblings and her mother. The fruit-lover in me protests… Obviously I have some work to do in the generosity department.

Mum is really healthy and disciplined. In fact, Mum is the one who started our family on jogging, and can run faster than I. She remembers (and laughs at) the one time I stomped my way to the end of the track because I was tired. The point of jogging is to jog – not sure how much clearer I can get about that – and my loud steps must have given it away, but I’m thankful that Mum continued to be loving and patient with me.Lees [1]

Mum never complains about making Dad a honey drink whenever he eats too much sambal belachan. She never gets tired of buying a meal back for him, and I have also never heard her complain about Dad or say something bad about him. Think about that! A woman who doesn’t gossip? I think my Dad picked a great woman. I hope I get more than just her genes.

In consolation, I have been told that I am like my mother. Mum has even said that some things I do mirror her. Not her style, but her. Really.

I get really pleased when I hear that! While I am still some ways from that, I think I’m going to be a great woman. Talk about confidence…! Seriously though, I get my outgoing-ness more from someone else. Speaking of confidence, enter Dad.

Dad, to me, is the epitome of selflessness, the opposite of self-centeredness. I think of the times when Dad would do the laundry all by himself when Daniel (my twin brother) and I were studying for the ‘O’ Levels. I think of how he drives our family around 99% of the time. I think about how he circles the parking lot again and again waiting for a parking lot while Mum, my brother and I head to the restaurant and sit comfortably.

Back to confident Dad. He is really outgoing. Two years ago our family went to my mother’s invite-your-family-to-dinner company dinner. It was held in a Japanese restaurant, and each family was separated by the tall seat back rests. Most families were busy enjoying the food and talking among themselves. Dad looked over our back rest and started talking to the family sitting behind us. It’s hard to describe, but if you think about it, it’s something rather unusual for a Singaporean to do.

family pic in sepAnother incident that would prove my point would be the fact that he – together with another neighbor – organized a barbecue for the neighbors living on our floor. How often do neighbors get together to know each other a little better? Rarely. I liked that barbecue, and am thankful for Dad’s communal ways.

I also like that my Dad is honest with me. He thinks I could lose 1% of my body weight and says it as such. It’s not a toned-down version of “Deb, I think you’re fat”; he just thinks I could trim down the love-handles by a bit. Yes, I feel the “Ouch but I’m happy to hear him speak honestly. Dad is funny too.

He doesn’t eat almonds so when he eats a bag of mixed nuts he asks my brother and I to finish the remaining nuts… all of which happen to be almonds. He is also known in the office to be a joker, someone who lifts the atmosphere and makes everyone feel a little more cheery.

I’ve heard people say of how much they wish their parents – Dads in particular – would hug or kiss them. Me, I think I get a little too much. I’m out of secondary school and Dad still likes holding my hand. He likes telling people that they can find parts of his heart outside the my former secondary school, the consequence of my letting go of his hand one day as the both of us were approaching the school. I feel bad whenever I hear that.

However, the feeling doesn’t last long when I think I’ve experienced hug-overkill: my older cousin remembers my brother and I bargaining with Dad in her house when we were in primary school. Us kids went “Dad, five hugs a day maximum!” But as I say from time to time, I appreciate Dad’s gestures of love and affection.

I am grateful and proud of my selfless, loving, affectionate and community-minded Dad. My future husband is going to be a great man (refer to my brother’s post), and I can’t wait. (Wait… Dad are you reading this? Uh, your princess can wait. Anyhow, I love you Dad.)

daniel and deborah with chipsWhat do my parents model together? My genius brother wrote a post, and you can tell our styles are pretty different. That’s because we are pretty different. But we make an amazing duo, and I believe our reflections paint a more complete picture of our parents.

I hope you enjoyed reading our different perspectives on what our parents model, and what we learn from them.

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 Deborah and Abraham. For inspiration on effective ways to love your children, visit our website and/or download a free activity pack!

Deborah, our guest writer, is a second-year polytechnic student. Her brother, Daniel, shared his thoughts in an earlier post on how their parents have been his role models and inspiration.


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!


Education has always been a hot topic in our family – Tuition? No tuition? Academic enrichment? Sports programs? Artistic development? The list can go on and on.

Our bottom line?  To help our children discover and develop their giftings and talents to the best of their abilities.

In our family, we see educating our children as a constant pursuit, one that goes beyond formal school attendance. Whether it be trips to the market, visits to the library, excursions to the museum or family holidays  abroad, we intentionally find opportunities to expose our children to math, language, history, geography, physical and social development.

The ChildrenWhile this all may sound ideal, I must confess that maintaining this perspective on education has grown more challenging, especially with our oldest in Primary school this year.  It has been hard looking beyond all the homework and graded assessments, not to mention the fact that almost every other classmate of our daughter’s attends some sort of enrichment class outside of school.

Currently, we’ve made it a point to only enroll our children in one sports enrichment class each.  Our son has chosen football and our daughter, gymnastics.  We are firm believers that physical activity enables the holistic development of our children.  Research even suggests that involvement in sports not only helps with physical development but also has a long-lasting impact on the learning abilities and discipline of a physically active child.

One thing we make sure that we do is to plan time for play-dates, this to us, is also time to develop social skills and an understanding of group dynamics while having fun!

As parents, we constantly remind each other of our bottom line and the importance of looking at the long haul.  This helps us resist the temptation of valuing our children based solely on their academic performances and instead, focus on developing well-adjusted individuals who are aware of their giftings and pursue them with excellence; individuals who understand the true value of life-long learning.

Sue-Ann Lee is a mother of two (with another on the way).  She enjoys nothing better than daydreaming of new ways for her family to take the stress out of living busy city lives.  Her children, Rainbow Sky and Chubs Salami – nicknames they gave themselves – are 7 and 4.

Going the distance

So here I am, finally back home in Singapore! Home sweet home? Well, yes and no. It’s great to be home with family and friends I love, but not everyone whom I care about is back here. There’s a certain someone I’m missing terribly. Long distance relationships aren’t easy at all.

Relationships by themselves aren’t always smooth sailing. Throw in some distance and there’s a lot more to handle. It’s been a few years, yet it’s something I think I’ll never get used to. With him coming and going, we’ve never had the opportunity to see each other on a regular basis. Each time he leaves, we find new ways of coping. While he is away, we each grow in our own ways. And so, each time he comes back, things are different.

Thankfully, one thing has remained the same, our willingness to adapt and eagerness to continue to learn about each other. The distance between us means that we don’t get to talk face to face. Even with Skype, we don’t have the benefit of eye contact. And over the phone, it is easy to misunderstand one another. The time difference also means that we can’t talk to each other anytime we like. It’s also revealed some unpleasant things about me to myself. I never realised how selfish or demanding I could be.

To cope with the highs and lows of this relationship (“high” being the short times he is home and “low” when he leaves), I’ve had to learn to keep my emotions in check and how to truly listen to someone. And when I speak, everything I feel or think has to be verbalized carefully and clearly to avoid miscommunication. I’ve also had to stop thinking so much about what I need, and instead ask him what his needs are. The process can be painstaking when all these have to be conveyed over a telephone conversation. (Especially when I don’t always remember what was just mentioned earlier in this paragraph.) Sometimes, our conversations span hours, late into one of our nights. Even then, some issues won’t be completely resolved and we spend more hours sorting it out.

Being so far apart has really tested our patience with each other time and again. But if both people are willing to adapt and be open to learn, I’ve learnt that many things can be overcome, including the discomfort that change can bring. However this relationship turns out in future, I think it would have made me a better person. Patience, listening skills and consideration for another aren’t just for boy-girl relationships.