It is about this time of the year where mayhem and stress happen. It is the time when students in Singapore must face their gruelling kryptonite: examinations. And for a special few of you, this year is a bit special where you will be taking on a more important challenge; PSLE, O Levels, N Levels, or others.

Truthfully, though many may think that it is the student’s capability that is being tested during exams, I would say that it is also a family effort throughout this process, beginning from the start of school to the receiving of your certificate.

Personally, I too did not do as well as I had expected for my PSLE. My score was much lower than my peers, leaving me with disappointment and in a dilemma. Where can I go with such a low score? My parents were equally disappointed as they too thought that I had underachieved and my 6 years in primary school was a waste.

Looking back, seeing how far I have come from that ‘failure’, I am glad that I was able to experience it at such a young age as it allowed me to grow into a more resilient person. While I do not condone failure, I believe that there are some virtues in it.

Yes, national exams are very important. It is the point where students are tested on how much they have learnt over the years in school. Out of all the national examinations in Singapore, PSLE is deemed by many to be the most important examination and is the focal point of discussions for parents yearly. It is also the most stressful time for students and parents. It is common to see children going for multiple tuition classes and doing revision till late at night, while parents are trying to help their child however they can.

Why do I say that it is not just the student’s effort but also the family as a whole? While the student is the one that is taking the exam, the support given by family members is also equally important.

At such a young age with a tremendous amount of stress, it is important for family members to be supportive and encouraging. Simple actions such as having a hearty dinner after a long day or asking, “How did your day go?” can go a long way in promoting mental health and showing students that whatever happens, your family will also be behind you, supporting you.

While it is important to emphasise success, I think that accepting failure is also equally important and this should start with the parents. It is perfectly fine to fail, knowing that you have tried your best, and the effort should still be acknowledged and celebrated. At the end of the day, your grades do not define you. Instead, it is a testament to how much effort you and your family have put in to cross the finishing line.

To all my juniors who will be or are currently taking their national exam this year or in years to come, remember this: You have a long way to go in life and this national exam is just one challenge amongst many. No matter your results, you should be thankful to the people around you who have supported you throughout this process. People such as your friends, teachers and especially your family have been with you since the beginning and a simple “Thank you” or a hug is a good way to show your appreciation. With that, I wish you all the best and I hope you get the results that you have worked for!


About the writer:

Hi! I’m Ravin, currently a year one undergraduate student in NTU. I feel a great passion for helping and understanding people, which is why I would like to join FamChamps. My dream would be to become a counsellor who is well-known for not just a mentor but also a good friend.

The emergence of COVID-19 has plagued our world with numerous problems in a short time. Within weeks, multiple businesses have been forced to shut down, leaving people scavenging for sources of income to support their families. While we consider the economic downturns, let us not forget how this pandemic has affected the mental health and wellbeing of our people.

In many ways, COVID-19 is much like the SARS epidemic in 2003. Both viruses are influenza in nature, have similar symptoms, and have taken countless innocent lives. The difference is the extent of their detrimental effect on our world and it can largely be blamed on globalisation.

While we have enjoyed interconnectedness and economic prosperity between countries, the detrimental consequences of globalisation have also hit us with comparable strength. We have had no choice but to push forward and family is an integral part of this process.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence has already been on the rise in Singapore and it is considered to be a ‘taboo’ subject by many. According to statistical evidence from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (SG), the number of cases of the physical abuse of children investigated has risen from 188 in 2010 to 660 in 2019. Coupled with the economic downturn and rising unemployment in Singapore, this statistic is projected to rise exponentially.

This phenomenon can be explained psycho-therapeutically, and has already existed way before the pandemic. It is due to a theory called displacement. This is a defence mechanism where we redirect our emotions onto “safe targets” and in this case, it could be those living in the same household.

Anger, by nature, is understandable and perfectly normal. However, when this anger is taken out on innocent people, especially our loved ones, it is not just selfish but there is a complete disregard of our responsibility as a parent, child, or spouse.

Though COVID-19 has brought struggles and unavoidable problems, it has shed light on mental wellbeing and the importance of family. What does it mean to have a family? In my opinion, having a family is to have people around me when even if the whole world gives up on you, they will still be there to support you.

Personally, during the lockdown period from April to June where we had to stay at home most of the time, there was greater time for family bonding and understanding which was otherwise more difficult before COVID-19 due to commitments and heavy schedules.
I have come to understand my family member’s struggles in their everyday lives which were unknown to me, allowing me to be more sensitive and empathetic towards them. Also, with the strains of COVID-19 and its effect on our lives, there were emotions expressed such as anger and sadness among my family members and me. I feel that human emotion is one of the most precious things in life and be it positive or negative, it shows vulnerability and trust in others to not judge which I feel, allows my family to forge stronger ties in the midst of trying times.

While the crisis has affected many of us negatively, it has nurtured bonds between families and reminded us of what’s really important. Much like the proverb “Tough times never last, tough people do”, as we brave through this period of uncertainty and struggles, I hope that Singaporeans will become more resilient and empathetic.


About the writer:

Hi! I’m Ravin, currently a year one undergraduate student in NTU. I feel a great passion for helping and understanding people, which is why I would like to join FamChamps. My dream would be to become a counsellor who is well-known for not just a mentor but also a good friend.

When I was first invited to join FamChamps, I was apprehensive as I’d be the only one from my school and almost everyone would be a stranger to me. In spite of that, I registered for the camp and my fears instantly disappeared when I met my group; the team of eight others from the School of the Arts warmly welcomed me into their fold! That set a great tone for the action-packed camp.

After settling in, we got to look into our family histories, letting us understand ourselves and our families better. By drawing my family genogram and identifying relatives by various characteristics, I saw that we share a positive pattern of open-mindedness. It was exciting to see how similar I am to my dad; we don’t only seem alike in appearance and mannerisms, I’ve also picked up some of his characteristics like perseverance and determination when it came to work.

At one Family Dialogue session, Jason Wong shared his motivation behind the Dads For Life and Yellow Ribbon Project movements. He saw how children are constantly influenced by their parents’ good and bad behaviours and how children learn values. Through his session, I felt the urgency to change for the better as well as learn to forgive and forget, while trying to forge stronger relationships with my family.

On the second and third days, we learned how important it was to appreciate, honour, communicate with and forgive our parents; I realised how huge a role body language played in the way my message is conveyed when I talk to my parents. For a change of scenery, we took a field trip to The New Charis Mission — a halfway house for ex-drug offenders — and it was eye-opening to hear some residents’ stories and also see how dedicated the organisation was to care and restore hope for these individuals!

We played a competitive role-playing game FamQuest, based on Family and overcoming dilemmas as a unit. It let us practice the skills we’d learnt during the camp to improve family relationships and resolve disagreements.

All of us hit the streets for #FamilyFTW to get a sense of the public thought about the importance of family in Singapore. It was really heart-warming to hear their stories and enriching to understand different viewpoints, and made me consider how I would continue to treat my family when life gets too busy.

My highlight of the camp was Honour Night. Besides being away from the family for 3 days, all the lessons I’d learnt had caused a lot of warmth and love to bubble up for my parents and I worried if they would feel overwhelmed by it. As soon as they arrived, a big hug was all it took to break down all the uneasiness. It was wonderful that my parents both came by that evening; what started out as an awkward dinner date became a night full of laughter and tears. Their favourite parts of the evening was learning their Love Language and receiving the letter I wrote for them. Having their full attention to bond with them was something I had longed for, so it gave us the chance to connect on a deep level and share our feelings.

As I look back on the camp, I’m thankful to have been a part of the camp and learn so much! No family is perfect, so we need to extend forgiveness to others and make efforts to make our relationships stronger and better.

I’m motivated and excited to share the importance of family with my peers, helping them see how crucial our role is in the family and build stronger families.


Charlotte Chow (CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School)

Hello Hello! So, the last step of our Practicum Activities is to provide a short summary of it all. So here goes…

FamChamps, as well as the Practicum Activity has given me the opportunity to step up for my family, as well as for other Singaporean families. It has taught me to be grateful; for my parents, my sister and my extended family.

The Practicum activities were stepping stones for me, allowing me to first acknowledge, work on, and finally honour the relationships I share with the people I love the most.

The Practicum has pushed me to realise that my family is my support system, my connection to my heritage, religion and beliefs, and most of all, a blessing.

I am most grateful for a huge extended family, with grandparents, uncles and aunts, and almost 30 first and second cousins; we are each other’s biggest support in difficult times.

Spending more time with my sister and honouring my parents are now things I practise every day, and it took the simplest of practicum activities to help me realise that my relationship with them needs work.

I remember being told by my mentors on the last day of camp that everything might be so emotional now, and we might all be making promises to ourselves about what we are going to do for our families, but once we resume with our daily lives, it will get increasingly difficult to fulfil these promises.

I remember brushing this off casually, thinking to myself that I would be a “poster-child’ when I got home. I now realise that what the mentors said was absolutely true.

It wasn’t easy at all to understand my parents’ wishes, but I learned to respect them.

It wasn’t easy to tutor my sister, or take time out of my day to talk to her, when I got home from camp, but these little things have now become a habit.

Having to complete the Practicum helped me to slowly but surely improve my relationships with my family. Dealing with arguments, sickness, or the loss of loved ones has been hard on my family, but honouring and loving one another, and being more open has helped us through everything.

I feel a stronger connection to my family, knowing that we have suffered, overcome difficulties, and even celebrated, all together as a family.

This pretty much sums up my FamChamps Journey for the time being, but it doesn’t end there. I intend to continue with the activities and to bond with, honour and cherish my family in the process.

Next stop, AWARDS DAY!!!


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.
  4. 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

The joy of having family support during tough times

18 May, 2017

We all face struggles and go through difficult times in life, but when we have the support of family members and are reminded that we’re not alone, these struggles don’t seem so daunting anymore. We also learn to appreciate the unique encouragement of our family members. Two FamChamps students, Paul and Juliet, share their stories of love and family support.


I remember one instance when the love, trust and support of my family members helped me through a difficult time.

After the release of my end-of-year exams in 2015, I found out I had to retain a year due to my bad grades. Though on the surface I tried to put on a front that I was alright and unfazed, the truth was that it made me depressed. Those were the darkest days of my life.

I expected my mother and brother to nag at me as they always have. While I know that they do so out of love and concern for me, my self-esteem was already at its lowest and I did not want to be reminded of my failures and flaws.

Surprisingly, my brother was very understanding and didn’t nag at me like I had anticipated. Instead, he gave me advice on how to improve on my school work, and encouraged me to work hard and not give up. He assured me that hard work can trump talent; if I persisted in working hard, I would see the fruits of my labour in time. The things he said were crucial in helping me cope with the pain of retaining.

It was wonderful to hear my brother say, “It’s fine, what matters is who scores better in the ‘O’ levels,” as he had previously warned me, “Don’t retain, it’s a waste of one year”. Knowing that he did these things to comfort me made me happy and helped me know that I was important to him. I am very thankful to my brother for supporting me in his own special way through that very trying period of my life.


In February 2011, my mother gave birth to my fourth and youngest brother, Joseph. I have always found children a joy, but the feeling of having Joseph in my life is uniquely its own. He is my greatest blessing.

When I first entered secondary school, I found it very difficult to adapt to the new and foreign environment, and struggled with my disappointment at my PSLE grades. Ever since I was a young child, it was hard for me to control my emotions when trying times arose, and this time of adjustment was no exception. I was going through a very rough time, often crying and resenting myself for my poor results.

Whenever Joseph wanted a playmate, he would come knocking on my door. Time and time again, playing with him brought me back to when I was four years old, when I felt as carefree as he was. These times made me feel as though the dark clouds had lifted, and all was happy and well again.

There was this instance, when I was at my all-time low, and I had the negative thought of ending this misery once and for all. Then, hearing a knock on the door, I instantly knew it was Joseph. I quickly wiped away my tears and closed the window, before turning around to open the door for him to come in.

In the midst of our playtime, he asked why I had cried, and the only response I could muster was that something bad had happened in school. Naïvely, he giggled, “Good thing, I no need go school. Don’t cry already, when you want to cry, you must think of happy times like these! Also, remember that I love you Juliet!” Then, pushing his toys aside to clear a path to me, he gave me a tight hug and placed a peck on my cheek.

Though small and simple, this act of kindness and love meant the world to me. He and his words of innocence will always have special place in my heart, and they give me the courage I need to keep going. Every time I feel like crying, thinking of him makes me feel better. This is just one of the many instances where Joseph’s innocent love became my strength when the waves of life hit me hard.

© 2017 FamChamps Singapore. All rights reserved.

Paul is currently studying at Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road). He enjoys playing rugby and listening to music.

Juliet currently studies at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary). She aspires to become a psychologist one day, and enjoys watching movies and listening to music.

By Samantha Chin