2014 • Issue 1
Time For Love
Tang Hui Nee learns what makes the best gift for any child.
Thirteen years ago, I used to travel quite a bit helping out with my brother’s business. I usually had a really tight schedule so I could get back to my family as soon as possible. Back then, my two children were five and seven years old. Each time I travelled, I would call home and talk to my kids. During one of those routine conversations, I asked my five-year-old: “Papa is coming back end of this week, what would you like?”
She replied, ‘Pa, can you come back one day earlier?’
That struck me really, really hard, because it was something I could not give then.
Coming from a five-year-old, it started me thinking: if we took time to ask what our children really want from us, we often find it has very little to do with material things…it is probably more time with us that they want.
I think it is critical to look at what the most important commodity is, and that is time. I work as an education psychologist. In my contact with parents in busy Singapore, I notice we tend to buy things for our kids rather than spend time with them. Part of my work is to look at parents’ training, and parents often say they don’t have time. Yet time is one of the most precious things we can give our children, or spend acquiring skills to better support our children.
So my daughter’s answer made me ask myself what was important in life — and really, it is valuable time for our loved ones. The incident has shifted the importance placed on spending time versus spending on material well being. It has taught me to consciously watch as well as listen to my kids’ needs. I have since left the business world and am back within the hospital setting, working at supporting children with developmental needs and and their families. Building human well being may not be a big business but it is definitely a great business.