A speech Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan made, giving parenting advice, at Focus on the Family Singapore’s (FOTFS) annual partnership dinner has gone viral on social media after the charity group re-posted part of the speech on Facebook.
FOTFS is a Christian socially conservative, anti-abortion organisation based in Singapore. According to its website, FOTFS seeks to strengthen the role of male and female in a marriage and traditional family unit. The organisation has conducted talks, workshops, nationwide events and counselled parents and couples, with the aim of advocating traditional family units.
FOTFS is an affiliate of the American Christian conservative organisation, Focus on the Family, founded in 1977 by James Dobson. FOTFS was established in August 2000 and became a registered charity in 2002. It operates autonomously as a charity and is a donor-supported Institution of Public Character in Singapore.
Speaking at the FOTFS annual dinner, Dr Balakrishnan recalled the time when he and his wife had their first child in 1988. Sharing that the birth of his daughter made him realise that “being a parent or being a child is actually a one-way transmission of love,” he said:
“We had our first child on Christmas Eve of 1988. For the first time in my life, I felt total and absolute responsibility for caring for Natalie. For the first time in my life, I had a sense of how much my parents loved me. It made me understand that being a parent or being a child is actually a one-way transmission of love.
“Once you have a child, you now have totally invested in the future. You now have to give someone more than yourself. And you now have to live for a future that goes beyond your own.”
Revealing that his wife advised him that “the best present you can give your children is to love their mother,” Dr Balakrishnan said that this is crucial to give children “that confidence, that stability, that sense of confidence from knowing that we have a stable family, that daddy and mummy are in a loving, stable, committed relationship.”
He added: “If that’s the way we felt as children, surely our children also want that sense of stability. So, my wife’s advice is absolutely spot on.”
Noting that children grow up quickly, Dr Balakrishnan shared that his youngest son who is 13 would always ask him to tuck him into bed. The PAP Minister would often be busy but some weeks ago when he asked the boy whether he wants to be tucked in, he was told he could tuck him in if he wants to.
Advising young parents not to miss the time their children desperately need them, the Minister shared:
“…Life is a one-way ticket. A baby will only remain a baby for a very short time. They will grow up before we even realise it. Just about a week or two ago, I asked my youngest son, who’s now already 13 years old. In the past, he would always ask me to tuck him into bed. You know, I would always be busy, there’d always be another email to clear, and by the time you switched off your computer, he’s already asleep. The other day I asked him, “Do you still need daddy to tuck you into bed?” His answer was, “If you want to.”
“Now it’s “if I want to”. The thing about life is, we cannot rewind time. So my advice to young parents here is, your children need you, they need you desperately, and they need you only for a very very transient time in their lives. If we miss it, we can’t get it back.”
The excerpt of Dr Balakrishnan’s speech has gone viral on social media, with over 4,500 reactions and thousands of shares within days.
This is not the first time Dr Balakrishnan has shared parenting and relationship advice with members of the public. In late 2017, the Minister took to Facebook to share his insights on marriage and on happiness, on the occasion of his 30th wedding anniversary.
Sharing a video of his speech during his daughter’s wedding 3 years ago, Dr Balakrishnan said, “We just celebrated our 30th anniversary. 4 children, 2 grandchildren later – this is what real happiness means.”
In his wedding speech, Balakrishnan shared that he urged his sons, “when you date a girl, it is very important to look at her mother” because you can envision what the girl might look like in a few years based on how her mother looks.
Pointing to his wife who was by his side as he spoke, Balakrishnan quipped that his son-in-law has made a good choice in marrying his daughter. Nodding to his smiling wife, Joy, Balakrishnan said, “I think you will all agree with me, Nathaniel (his son-in-law) has chosen well.”
The Minister spoke about the mixed feelings of giving his daughter away, how to sustain a marriage and the joys of parenthood. He also shared the same advice about how the best gift a father could give his children is to love their mother, at his daughter’s wedding:
“The most important gift you can give your children is to love their mother. Children need that sense of absolute security from knowing that their parents love each other. Children need the role model of parents who love each other and are committed for a lifetime
“In a day and age of instant gratification, these old-fashioned values of commitment for the long term, loving your partner and making it a life’s enterprise, I think this is even more essential in this day and age.”
Watch his speech in full here:
"We had our first child on Christmas Eve of 1988. For the first time in my life, I felt total and absolute…