Rebuilding My Family Relationships
Interviewing a FamChamps Mentor
17 November, 2016
Keely served as a mentor in FamChamps 2015 and is part of the organising team for FamChamps Camp 2016. What’s more, two of the students she mentored came back to volunteer in this year’s camp as assistant mentors. Here is her story of how she rebuilt a broken relationship with her dad and uses what she has experienced to encourage other youths today.
- How was your relationship with your father previously?I was a mischievous kid and constantly went out till late at night. I had a strained relationship with my dad and after accumulated tension between us, our relationship reached a breaking point one day when I was in Primary 6. I had gone out very early in the morning and only reached home at midnight, my dad was extremely angry as he didn’t like my mom having to worry about me so much. He ended up beating me and pulling my hair.
That was the start of a period of four years where I didn’t talk to my dad. I didn’t acknowledge him when he returned home from work, and we ate dinner separately. Even on occasions when we had to eat out and sit at the same table, we would not communicate at all.That episode also made me quite bitter with my siblings because none of them came to my aid. My house became a very unfamiliar place to me, nothing more than a shelter to sleep in. I remember many times where I’d rather stay at the playground or go to a friend’s house instead of heading home, because even when I did, I wouldn’t talk to anyone anyway. The idea of “family” felt very foreign to me.
- What changed in your relationship with your father?When I was around 17 years old, I went back to church and became a small group youth leader. I began to understand and accept the fact that I needed to forgive and let go of my past hurts. There and then I made a decision to forgive my dad for all that he had done to me. I began talking to him, eating meals together and casually asking about his day. It sure was difficult at first after so many years of not communicating and seemingly having nothing in common to talk about, but I tried taking small steps in hopes of rebuilding my relationship with him.It is also not common in our family to display physical or verbal expressions of love to each other. However, in hopes of reconciling with my dad and becoming a better daughter, I learnt to be more expressive in my appreciation towards him. During a Father’s Day celebration with my family, I gave him a big hug and said “Happy Father’s Day”, and he was pleasantly surprised.
I think my dad saw the effort in my actions, and so he began to reciprocate and tried to elaborate in his responses to my questions to him. Up till now, we are still constantly making the effort to connect, because we are both often so busy with our own schedules.
- What would you say to encourage youths who may be struggling with strained relationships with their parents?Some years ago, I saw my dad applying mediated oil to his shoulder as I walked past his room and so I offered to help him. That was when I realised that he was really getting on in age; I decided then that I should really treasure and honour my dad, instead of letting little things get in the way and fighting with him over trivial matters.Similarly, I would share with these youths that we only have one set of parents, and difficult as it can be, we should appreciate them. We must remember that as we are growing up, our parents are also growing older, and if we don’t honour and appreciate them now, there may come a time when we will no longer have the opportunity to do so. Trying to mend a broken relationship with your parents will definitely be difficult at the start, but you can take baby steps like what I did, trying to make casual talk over meals and expressing your appreciation for them; as you do so, you can be sure that your parents will recognise your efforts and even reciprocate in time.
- How do you feel about the students you mentored coming back to serve as assistant mentors in this year’s FamChamps Camp?I was very happy and pleased when I found out they chose to come back and volunteer! It really shows that FamChamps is making an impact in their lives and that they see the value of family. I know that they want to be part of this movement to spread the importance of family and invest into the lives of the next batch of students, and that really encourages me.
By FamChamps Singapore