How do you spell “love”?

Peter Tan (extreme left) with his family at the wedding
of his daughter.

The person I yearned for most during my childhood years was my father. Sadly, he was mostly absent, although I must credit him for my life’s philosophy. One rare evening we were together, I ruefully asked, “Dad, why are we on earth for?” He thought quietly for a while, then said, “Men are on earth to make other people happy!” I liked what he said.

Twenty-nine years ago, I became a father. Never will I forget my daughter’s birth. As her head emerged, she did not cry. Seeing my daughter’s umbilical cord around her neck, the obstetrician exclaimed, “Two loops and a dead-knot too!” As I thought of a colleague’s still-born baby with one loop around its neck, I silently prayed: “God, please save my daughter. I will be the best father to her!” The doctor snipped the umbilical cord; but still, there was no cry. When the doctor gave her an injection, she made one “Waahh!” That was the moment I became a father.

Growing up poor, I know that it is not “things” that matter to children—love, safety and security matter more than material gifts. I have often told my children that I cannot give them everything they want, but I will always give them everything they need.

During parenting talks, I often share that children spell “love” as “T-I-M-E”! In a sense, I learnt this the hard way. My father was absent, but I was thankful for my mother and grandparents. To raise our children ourselves, my wife and I decided that she would leave the workforce. On my salary as a teacher, finances were tight but love and fun were in abundance. My children knew that mum would always be there for them…and so would dad.

Growing up in the Boys’ Brigade, I realised how important it was for men to make positive impact on boys. In Sunday School, teachers like Dr Tan Gee Paw role modelled what good earthly fathers do for their children. God was good to me, providing godly men who spoke fatherhood into my life, teaching me what fathering is about and pointing me to our Heavenly Father’s abundant love.

A spiritual heritage is the most important thing we can give our children. Guiding and nurturing them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ is the most precious gift we can bless them with. It was my privilege to lead my children to accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Both my children are now married, actively serving in church and productively employed in their chosen careers. The best part is I am soon going to be a grandfather.

John Wu, Peter Tan and Tan Gee Paw will be sharing about their fatherhood journey at “Passing on a Godly Legacy”, the inaugural One MCS webinar.

17 Oct 2020 (Saturday), 9 to 11 a.m. (for more information) (to sign up)

9171-4984 (David Ang, Event Chairman, CAC Board of Family Life Chairman)

Peter Tan is passionate about fathering and prayer. In 2001, as Principal of ACS (Junior), he started its Fathers Prayer Group. It was adopted by other schools and was the seed for the Elijah7000 prayer movement as part of our nation’s effort to promote Dads for Life. He believes that fathers make a significant difference in family life. / Photo courtesy of Peter Tan