It is cliche when you say that you wouldn't be here if it wasn't for your parents. But as cliche as it sounds, that's a substantial amount of truth in it, if not all. Sure, I went through life experiencing it through my eyes and picking up new learnings along the way but a lot of how I view things, handle matters and so on, are a result of the teachings from my parents.
Sometimes I think of how I would like to bring up my child(ren) in future should I be blessed with one or more and I think that I would like to impart the same values and learning that I have from my parents and more like engaging in sports from a young age as I personally feel that sports has taught me so much and sculpting much of my personality - learning to be determined, to set achievable goals and believe in yourself.
Lessons from my parents
1) Fair play.
It is hard for parents not to practice favoritism. A parent would always have a softer spot for one. I think in the case of my parents, my Dad's soft spot is L and I'm my mom's. Whatever that was given to L, was given to me and vice versa. It was equal in value and fair. Still it. We never felt less loved or the need to be jealous of the other because of the way our parents treated us. When I was 16 and 19, I had to opportunity to go on an exchange program to Perth and Europe respectively. My parents were willing to sponsor the living expenses etc. In the end, I chose not to go mainly because it was something my sis didn't have the chance to go for and I didn't want her to feel shortchanged. My Dad had also offered to send me to UK for college but I felt the costs would be too much and again, unfair to my sister, so I chose to study locally. Sometimes, I do regret but I think I made the right decision then.
Fair play is one thing that I'll keep in mind when bringing up my kids in future. Something that is commonly overlooked.
2) Filial piety.
I see how my parents treat my grandparents and respect them for their love and dedication to their parents. The only times that I saw my Dad cry was when his parents passed on. I think even till this day, after many years have passed, he still visits their resting space every now and then and to tell them what's going on in the family. When I first started working, I started giving my mom money every month. Honestly, she doesn't even need the money but she appreciates the thought. I still do so every month and give more whenever I get pay rises.
3) Love your sister.
My mom once told L and I something that I'll never forget. Love each other and be close. Because when your Dad and I leave this world, you both will be the closest kin and family that you'll have. There is only the two of you.
My sis and I weren't always the closest when we were young. It only happened after we both started working and things really changed for the better. Today, we might not see each other daily, but she's one of the first I'll text or call to share good and bad news and I know that no matter what, I can always count on her.
4) Treat others the way you want to be treated.
I always marveled at how well my Dad's colleagues, bosses and staff spoke of him. His secretary B has been with him for over twenty years. He is so admired and respected at work, that I wonder how he does it. Over the years, I realized why and how.
He treats everyone the same. He's nice to even the one at the lowest rank because to him, it doesn't matter. Although if your are arrogant and pushy, it doesn't sit well with him. During the Christmas season, he doesn't task his secretary to buy gifts for everyone, instead, he personally goes out and gifts wrap everything himself for them (sometimes he gets us his little elves to help wrap the numerous gifts). For a man of his position, I think that's quite rare. He is also extremely generous and giving and loves making others happy. And it all comes back to him. I recalled chatting to B once when I was at his office and she said, Your Dad is so thoughtful! It turns out he told her to enjoy a dinner at Lawry's with her husband and he'll pick up the tab. His birthday gift to her. He knew it would make her happy.
I try my best to follow his example. To treat others the way I want to be treated. And if you know me well, I am generous when it comes to close friends who are sincere in their friendship with me. I'll go all the way out for them if needed.
5) Love music.
My Dad is a great lover of music. It has kinda rubbed off on me. Though our taste in music is completely different, I am glad that I was exposed to music at a very young age of 4. I used to play the organ, piano and guitar and though I no longer play any of it, I still love music and it is very much a part of me. I don't know how to describe it but lovers of music are very much in tune with their emotions. Music makes you feel good in a wonderful way and can be very inspiring at times. There is a saying that goes, Music is the only element that lives on forever. If you think about it, anything in life can die or fade away be it material goods or sadly even love. But music lives on forever.
6) Invest in facial products and use sunblock
An advice that my mom has been drilling into the two of us since young. She says, don't stinge on facial skincare products. It is worth dishing out the dough to buy quality products. And always use sunblock.
7) Be house proud.
Your home is where you return to daily. So be house proud. It need not be filled with expensive furniture or so but it needs to be clean at least.
8) Never look down on others, especially the poor.
My Dad grew up poor. He had to help my Granddad earn money by copying manuscripts. If he didn't manage to win Colombia scholarship (equivalent of the current President's scholarship), he wouldn't have been able to get a university degree. Because he came from a poor family, he worked doubly hard to get to where he is today. Whatever we have now, is through his own sheer hard work and I admire and respect him for that. He never looks at a person's background and instead on whether the person is willing to work hard.
You are what you are because of what you want to be, and not because of where you came from.
9) Make your own decisions and be responsible for it.
When it came to education, my parents aren't like what most current Singaporeans are in the way they worry about which school to send their kids to, the grades etc.
What I remembered of my childhood and school days were mostly play. After school, I was either playing with my neighbors, swinging on the monkey bars at the playground or watching TV at Granny's. The only home tutor I had was for Mandarin since neither of my parents speak Mandarin and all grandparents spoke to my sis and I in English, we needed extra help.
I would say that I was self-motivated. I requested for physics and mathematics tuition because I felt that I needed extra explanation. My mom agreed to hire a tutor but because I requested for it not because they wanted us to have tutors for every subject. When it came to school selection after PSLE, it was, Oh choose that school because it's near to the home. It was my goal and dream to enter Victoria Junior College not theirs. My Dad suggested that I entered ACJC just because it was nearer to his work place and he could drop me off at school :P But I can say that my parents didn't pressure me and I got into VJC through my own motivation and determination.
My parents have always guided us along the way but never forced us to do what we didn't want to do. My Dad was disappointed when I decided at the last minute not to apply for medical school. Nor for law school nor for accountancy or architecture. Instead, I choose a general degree - Business. Still, they allowed me to make my own choice and just reminded me to live with it and make the best out of it. They advised me to major in finance but I chose marketing and pretty much did what I wanted and today, I can say that they are proud of what I have accomplished career wise.
I grew up having free rein of what I wanted to do with my life and was just reminded that I make the best out of what I choose to do and move on with it. Making your own decisions means that you blame no one for the outcome. You learn to deal with what you have decided on, the consequences and all.
10) Money matters.
This was always strongly emphasized on by my mom and she taught me sis and I a lot about it.
Save. Always pay your debts in full and on time. Spend within your means. Never share information about your personal finances with anyone including your partner unless he's your husband.
My sis and I have both been saving since we were really young. While my friends were traveling and enjoying their vacation before university term started, I spent 6 months interning at a company and saved most of my salary in the bank. In university, I tutored kids for extra pocket money and after paying off the expenses for my car, I saved the rest. I invest my money in shares and stocks and ensure that I save a certain percentage of my paycheck. And I do follow the guideline of saving for a rainy day.
I never let a credit card debt run over to the next month and I always pay them in full and on time. Never let the bank charge you any interest rates. I refuse to increase the monthly credit limit of my card though it has been many years so that I will never go overboard. Also, if I ask someone to help me to pay for something or needed to borrow money temporarily, I always pay back asap.
Whatever I allow myself to indulge in (bags, shoes, travels etc), it's always within my means. I track all my expenses, have a separate expense account which I transfer a monthly allowance to myself and use only one credit card.
I don't share details of my finances. Even B.T doesn't know how much I earn or have. Only my parents and husband will have the privilege of knowing and as my mom has taught me, always protect yourself and as a woman, always keep a separate personal bank account that only you have access to.
There are a lot more that I have learnt from them but it's quite impossible to write all of it here so these are the top ten.
What have you learnt from your parents? I'll be honored if you could share them with me :)