Be Your Own Woman: An Open Letter From A Father

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As Father’s Day approaches, people around the world are planning to celebrate or pay homage to the contributions of their father and the impact they have left upon their lives.

I have decided to write a message dedicated to you, my 3-year-old daughter instead.

I believe that I speak on behalf of all fathers that a child is special, beyond words. Father’s Day is as much an occasion celebrating our children as much as they have dedicated the day to us.

When I first laid my eyes on you inside the operating room, I was incredulous while your mother dozed off in exhaustion. When I recovered from the initial disbelief, I wore the biggest smile ever.

The moment I saw you, I knew that we were going to share a magical bond. Being a language nut, I was immediately thinking of creative ways to hone your speaking skills so we can enjoy endless conversations together, so that you can hastily graduate from the confinement of gugus and gagas to pure eloquence.

Guess what? You turned out to be chattier than the average toddler and I cannot be happier. I hope you retain this verbal prowess of yours way into adulthood.

As I watch you grow up so quickly, one of my greatest fears is that you will fall into bad company.

Every parent wants the best for their child; that is a perennial truth.

While it is common for many parents (including your grandparents) to nag, I believe that such a method is outmoded and ineffective.

I want you to take a good look at the world for yourself and be your own woman. I will not judge your clique; you will be your best critic.

Now, you are innocent, full of curiosity and vibrance – I want you to stay this way for as long as you can. I will support your forays into the unknowns and hard decisions, and offer any guidance I can to build your self-esteem.

However, do not mistake innocence for weakness. Innocence with awareness can help you to build many strong and healthy relationships.

My generation lost our innocence at a younger age compared to my parents’ generation due to our exposure to social media. This will get worse with generation Z and I can’t bear to imagine yours…peers who are accessing the internet from the age of 2.

As you grow up, remember: materialism is the bane of existence; be content always. Competition is healthy but do not let an unhealthy obsession over it clout the judgments in your life.

Currently, society has judged that we (millennials) are notoriously petty and self-entitled and here’s what I think – this is true, though not for all of us.

Sometimes, it is easy to mistake the state of being well-informed as being cocky. When I was a kid, the internet was only beginning to take shape as a world-changing platform.

I used dial-up, something that you would never have to put up with.

Now, touchscreen technology has become the norm. In my younger days, people resorted to keeping pagers – ineffective communication devices that flashed the number of the person who called while you had to depend on a public phone or any other landline to return the call.

Basically, we carried a caller-ID.

You might think that my time is prehistoric but guess what? I felt the same way about your grandfather who spent his childhood in an earlier time of kampongs, kerosene lamps and neighbours gathering around a television box to watch programmes displayed in black and white.

There are many life lessons we can inherit from the previous generation.

For you, there’s the internet for any screened device with a connection. I predict that by the time you are a young adult, you might be able to transport some form of your consciousness into the shows you watch and act out your own scenes through some advanced AR innovation.

Just today, I wrote an article related to cloud technology and an application that allows cow farmers to remotely monitor the health of their animals. Expect exciting days ahead for your generation when people can achieve more with fewer mistakes.

I am curious how you will turn out as a parent, if it ever becomes a choice of yours. As I write this, you are rolling on the floor with a bucket over your head, pretending to be the nutcracker.

You must never forget true happiness, the true purpose of life.

Now, as for my relationship with you grandfather. It is expected that we have our fair share of disagreements, since parenting methods differ. But I am deeply appreciative of everything he has done for the family.

I love him despite all the disagreements and bickering. My earliest memories of joy include him when he took me to A&W and when we we played with water balloons.

This letter is as much a letter to him as it is to you. Being both a father and son really puts this special day into perspective.

I would like to end this off by wishing my father a very happy Father’s Day, I’m sorry for all the times I have let you down but let’s make things better with each year.

Happy Father’s Day!

With love,
A son and father