Monday, November 28, 2005

By Cecilia Tan Chun Huang
Publisher: Mall Enterprises Sdn Bhd

MOST mothers in this world want to see their children grow up to be
filial, successful, hardworking, intelligent and disciplined members of
Fathers share the same aims with their spouses but mothers somehow are
more concerned about their children. Perhaps it's because they carry them
for nine months before the infants emerge into the world.
Almost all children who grow up under the tender, loving care of their
mums remember their mothers most when they have become adults. It seems
to be the duty of mothers to worry and care for their children no matter
how old they are.
Even if a son or a daughter has become middle-aged, in their mother's
eyes they are still her own.
And thus, on this premise is this book founded. Cecilia Tan has
lovingly and courageously put in a permanent form all the advice and tips
she has thought of for her three young adult children, twins James and
Benjamin and daughter Elizabeth.
In her motherly quest, she has inadvertently passed on some valuable
advice to all the children belonging to other mothers as well. It is not
uncommon to hear one's mum giving unsolicited advice almost on a daily
basis when we were growing up.
A lot of these nuggets of wisdom have stuck in our heads, which we
later passed on to our own children whether they want to listen or not.
Much like us, when we were growing up in our wondering and wandering
There are eight parts to this book, from A to H. As it should be, Part
A emphasises a strong spiritual foundation. The child can be of any
religious background, the principles can still apply.
In Tan's case, Christianity holds first place in the household.
Children, as a matter of routine, normally accept religious education as
part of growing up. Many of them forget its importance as they enter the
threshold of adulthood.
But they will soon appreciate it when they are married and have
children of their own. Then, they realise the common sense embedded in
religious teachings.
Sometimes, we wish we had listened more intently to our parents' advice
on religion, if they are so inclined.
Part B deals with emotional hygiene. It dwells on traits and habits
that will smoothen the passage to the grave for any individual. For
example, a healthy sense of humour, a cheerful disposition, an ability to
count one's blessings, an inclination to accept change and a personal
decision to always be happy.
Tan no doubt has undergone many of such vital passages of life to
impart many essential tips of living a happy life. The book is elegant in
its simplicity and joyful in its gentle reminders.
As a parent myself, I understand her courageous effort to say it all
from her heart.
The writer's diligence in putting together in print form all the things
she wants to say to her children can only be applauded.
What parent can disagree with a mother teaching her children the right
thinking style (Part C), or taking the proper approach towards human
relationships (Part D)?
There's clearly nothing wrong with reminding the little ones about
making time for your dear ones or forgiving those who have hurt you.
These may be considered by some to be "old" advice but nevertheless their
significance is evergreen as the generations go.
The book slips easily into discussing one's own health (Part E) as we
add on the years. Drinking lots of water, fresh air and eating fresh food
is plain common sense. But it's always our mum who lovingly nags us about
all these things incessantly.
It would also be good if we hear more earnestly to advice about how we
should enjoy our work if we do not want to be victims of premature ageing
(Part F). Many adults these days do not have a positive attitude towards
their work or do the best they can without being asked. Tan has mentioned
all these subjects and more.
Then there are the aspects of money (Part G) and the usage of time
(Part H). It is not a secret that a good number of young professionals
find themselves strapped for cash by the middle of the month due to poor
budget control. Well, mum Cecilia Tan has some things to say about this.
And she also knows how to manage time. You really don't have to attend
time management workshops and seminars if you pay attention to some
motherly advice on making checklists and adopting some sensible
timesaving habits.
It is time that a mother has finally come up with a book like this. I
wish I had such a book to read when I was growing up. In a way, I am glad
my own mother found the time to give me the benefit of her experiences
when I was loitering in the house during those rainy days.
Tan has dedicated the book to her parents and her father-in-law. All
three are in their 80s. Two are close to 90. With a combined total of
more than 250 years among them, Tan is clearly one of the fortunate ones
who has learn to live well and now she shares the lessons that the elders
have taught her.
We all should celebrate in the happiness that she rightly deserves and
help to spread her gentle and loving tips of being good people to our
young ones.

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