Recently we came across this touching yet inspiring story about a singe mum who had it rough after her boyfriend passed away just before their marriage. There are some friends who had undergone similar life experiences. These are two that I like to share.
Warm Dad, Cold Dad
Being the only kid in her household, Xue Li (XL) was doted upon by both her parents and her relative. Regardless, she was extremely close to her Dad which as a friend, I could see why. Whenever my classmates and I visited her, Uncle Tay (as we called him) always welcomed us with a wide grin and more importantly a bunch of sng bao. He never failed to squat down, had a quiet word with XL and hugged her before releasing her back to her room where we would play for the rest of the afternoon. XL absolutely adored her Pa.
On the other hand, Celine’s Dad was much less affable. He was an accountant by profession but always gave the impression that he loved numbers more than his family. Growing up, Celine was always fearful of her father and tried to keep herself out of his way. He rarely played with Celine and whenever he spoke, it was more instructional than affectionate. Naturally, Celine gravitated towards her Mum and they were basically inseparable since Celine was also a single child.
Somehow the memory was still quite vivid despite the years. In the middle of our Chinese lesson, our form teacher disrupted the lesson and requested for XL. For the next few days, XL did not attend school. Later on, I came to know that her Dad was involved in a worksite accident and was cruelly crushed by a piece of equipment. It was a horrifying blow to XL who never had a chance to say goodbye. For the nxt few weeks, we did not know how to act around her as she was clearly and visibly upset over his demise. Then suddenly, she had to change to another primary school and we lost touch for some time.
For Celine, her Dad became much warmer at the tail-end of his life. When Celine was 10, her Pa was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer. He was no longer the strong, stoic individual that she was used to. Instead, he was physically weak but a lot more talkative. It was during this period that Celine spoke more with her Dad and learned about his life stories. In a way, the same dreadful disease that took her father away. ironically pushed him closer to her before the end.
We learned later on that XL had to stay with her grandma after her Dad passed away because of financial reasons. Her mother had to work long hours to make up for her Dad’s income and that meant that XL was to be taken care of by someone else. Her grandmother lived on the other side of the island-state and thus, XL had to switch school. Besides coping with the trauma, she had to make new friends in a new environment, spend less time with her mother and basically adapt to an entirely new lifestyle.
For Celine, life remained largely unchanged besides the fact that her Dad passed on after a year of struggle. Her mother who was a home-maker had to take up nanny jobs (at their own home) to earn a living. She had to help out with the toddlers after school till their parents fetched them but it was not too hard anyway. It turned out that his Dad who was good with numbers had made sure that the family had enough till Celine was old enough to fend for herself. To her amazement, her university tuition was also taken care of by her old man.
Who was a better father?
XL had a wonderful childhood and probably would continue to have one if not for the untimely demise of her father. She would always carry with her the fond memories of her Pa which no one can take away from her. However, her post-Dad life was terrible, evidenced by her less-than-ideal PSLE results. The loss of her father was soon accompanied by the loss of bonding time with her mother who had to work. It was a bitter pill to take for an 11-year-old.
For Celine, it was true that she never felt close to her father. However, she learned to appreciate how much his father actually loved her when she was an adult. What she has today was a result of her father’s long-term planning and foresight. It was love but in a different form.
The truth is no one is a better Dad. They loved their kids in a different manner and both should be respected for being a good father.
Good news – you can have them both
Being warm and loving to your kid and having the foresight to plan for your child’s financial future are not mutually exclusive. You can be a great parent for today and for the future when you are no longer around. With careful insurance planning, you can make sure that the latter happens.
If you are wondering how you can be a better parent financially, check out the articles at the end of this blog!
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