children are now almost grown up. Seeing them as
young adults, I still look back at the old days and wonder if I had
spent enough time with them.
I used to struggle in doing the right thing. I would bring
work home to do on my computer. My son would call for my attention, “Daddy,
daddy,” but I just told him, “Daddy is busy.” And he walked away.
Some time later, I had the chance to ask him,
“Is there something you want daddy to change?”
His answer? “Stop working on your computer.”
From that day onwards, whenever he called me, I would set my
work aside and give him my attention first. Usually it would just take a couple
of minutes. It was as if as long as he knew that I’m there for him and that he
is important to me, he no longer felt the need to compete for my attention.
am grateful that I took that small, decisive step to turn towards my son. Is
there something you’re thankful for in your own family as we see 2019 draw to a
Challenges and Triumphs for Families
to a survey done by WholeLife in 2019, 44% of married couples are at risk of
marital distress. Some 20% of women and 8% of men have also contemplated
divorce in the past year.
There has also been an increase
in suicides amongst male youths; suicides among boys aged
10 to 19 reached a record high in 2018.
At the same time, surveys done by the Institute of Policy
Studies have found that family
structures in Singapore are increasingly diverse. More young people
here are open to alternative forms of family structures.
While these trends are
disturbing, they should also serve to move
us into action.
Focus on the Family, we have been
intimately involved in walking with couples in crisis, and also parents whose
children are battling anxiety or depression.
recall one success story from one of our counsellors. Tricia (not her real
name) was experiencing communication breakdowns and growing resentment in her
marriage. She and her husband came to seek help with one of our counsellors, and
they learnt to air their grievances constructively – without winding up in an
as mediator, the couple was able to identify the root of their
issues and seek forgiveness from each other for past hurts. They also gained
new communication and conflict resolution skills to help them forge a path
towards a healthy and fulfilling marriage.
Next year, we will launch a new initiative called Marriage
Intensives. It is envisioned to be a 3-5 day programme that seeks to help
couples get to the root of their issues, and set them on the path toward
recovery. It is my hope that many couples will experience restoration and
healing through this initiative.
for the youths, we had the opportunity to establish a FamChamps Council this
year, made up of some alumni members from earlier FamChamps runs. Having
experienced the life-changing effects of FamChamps, it is heartening to see these
family champions now rising up to take the baton and do their part for Family.
If we believe that Family is the basic building block of society, then let's do our part to invest our time and resources in Family. We can do this by helping everyone to believe in Family, to live out Family, and to champion Family.
The restoration work
In the fight for strong
families, headwinds abound. To me, the greatest challenge is no longer drugs,
gambling, or absent or abusive parents, but the lack of interest amongst young
people in getting married and having children.
Perhaps in experiencing
their fair share of disappointments in their own families, some have given up
hope in marriage and family altogether.
How do we rebuild
something as fragile as our young people's faith in these vital social
How can we insist on them
following what they no longer believe in?
“No one can do everything. But everyone can do something.”
These are tough
questions, but I believe it is our collective responsibility to engage and
grapple with them.
As parents, educators,
and significant adults, we need to work at rebuilding the faith of our youths
again. For starters, we can model how to do marriage and family right.
While things will never
be completely flawless, like the lesson I learnt from my son, much can be
achieved if we are open to change and decide to do our part.
Secondly, we can support programmes
like FamChamps. The newly-minted FamChamps council is currently
spearheading a ground-up campaign called “Connect with Family”, a web series
that challenges youths to put their relationship with their families to the
test, and be more involved in family building and establishing stronger family
In the premiere of Connect with Family, 4 youths race against time
to complete a series of family challenges within 168 hours. (Catch it on Facebook or Instagram!)
As Max Lucado
writes, “No one can do everything. But everyone can do something.”
we enter 2020, let’s dream for a better future for families.
If we believe that Family
is the basic building block of society, then let's do our part to invest our
time and resources in Family. We can do this by helping everyone, young
and old, to believe in Family, to live out Family, and to champion Family.
can make a difference today by giving a gift at: www.family.org.sg/givenow.
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