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Why leaving an inhertitance for your children will never guarantee happiness in life?


The lesson I learn from my family that becomes my calling to share why families ties is the only true wealth you can give your children.


My maternal grandfather was once the richest man in Jinmen, Taiwan. We had a mansion that he built during 1925 - 1935. It was seized during Japanese occupation for military purpose and later on by the Taiwanese government. Hence, the mansion is also known as "xian bing yang lou" (宪兵洋楼)or the military's mansion. It was donated by one of my aunts to the state in 2016.

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Today it is cited by the government as one of historical building, preserved for its achitecture grandor and a symbolism of fillial piety, something Grandpa was well-known for in his lifetime. He spent most of his money and a decade building this retirement home for his mother before the war broke out. My grandparents and his family never live a day in the masion. During his teens, my great grandfather took grandfather to Malaysia to seek their fortunate and he stayed there till he passed away. It was a huge regret that he had never been able to retire in his hometon and stayed in his mansion with his family. In my mind, I always wonder if Grandfather had regretted working so hard without knowing his children more intimately. Or being more fair in his allocation of time and attention and finally, assets among them

My grandfather had three wives. The first one passed away before he came to Malaysia. My grandmother was the third wife. I was borned in Singapore and raised in Malaysia till about 6 years old. My grandmother told me in the earlier days, the house was full of people; grandpa, his two wives and all his children were living together in his Kedah shophouse. During meal times, the men would eat first, followed by the second grandmother and her children and then my aunties and uncles. My grandmother was always last to eat. Needless to say, there were alot of greviouses and unhappinesses, just like K-drama. I still remember the fights over the inheritance when grandmother was bedridden. My association with money was never a happy one.

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The night before this photo shoot, mum forced me to cut my hair to the hair-style which I absolutely hated. It is a typical espside in my life that continued throughout my life. That morning of the shoot, I was hiding behind when grandfather called for me to come to the front. Without words, he understood my misery and held me with both hands as if to protected me. I felt a great comfort instantly and stood taller. Till this day I could feel his warmth and pressure on my hands. This is one of the more memorable times when I felt loved and that I mattered.

Grandfather was a visionary of his time. He was ambitous and farsighted in business. As I recalled doing my research, some of his conversation with me were the reasons why I was once a motivational seminar junkie. Grandafther was a man of few words but when he does, he spoke with passion and inspiration. He was probably the frst man to make me believe that I am special and priviledged. However, the managment of his household was less than satisfactory. Family of such nature is a hard one to manage. I could feel the tension when my aunts talked about the politics happening at home. After he passsed away, his businesses was given to his sons. I always felt any of his daughters could have done a better job. The uncle who took over had a strings of girlfriends and a few marriages that ended in divorces, largely due to his infidelity. He patronised pubs and bars, dabbled with soft drugs and alcohol. He had the charisma like grandfather but not the resilence and courage in business like him.. While my mother live a life of a go-getter and make most of her dreams come true with luxurious travels and at the height of her business she had a few properties in expensive location. But lost everything in her old age due to "a bad investment". I long suspected it was a void that she never filled as a child. Grandfather always lament why she was not borned a son, which he would gladly passed her his business. Mum tried in her own ways to prove that without anyone's help she could build her own business as well. She was as driven as Grandfather and embraces many of his values.

Grandfather spent all his life building a fortunate to give his family a comfortable life but he had little time with his children. There were always intense competition to win his approval. Mum took after him in equating money with love. They threw themselves into work and little else matter. Many of mum's values went like this:"It is disgraceful not to have money.", "I don't need friends. When you are strong everyone wants to be your friend.", "My gift to you is that you never have to give me money in my old age." When I was sick after giving birth, she never visited me once but instead she sent me a cheque to get a maid after my aunts berated her for not taking care of me. Such cold way to solve a problem is prevalent throughout my childhood. Sad to say mum lost her wealth presumably because of fear, greed and emptiness that cause her to make the wrong judgment in her business. If you spend some time evaluating life, you will know we often make them in the state of our mind and almost all of our choices are values-driven.

Family bonding and imparting the right values are more important than making money for your children. The simple fact is that if you do not have good values and habits, you do not make good decision or have the habits and discipline to carry on long term task which is critical for success. With the increasing dependence of dual income, child caring is often out-source. Marital relationships and parent-child relationships are weakened in the material world. The raising divorce and crime rates is the evidence that family unit is no longer as strong as before. I feel strongly that the true wealth for the next generation is a close family who is there to support them through difficut times. Parents can who can demonstrate various ways to problem solve, seeing things different pespective through daily interaction is best able to raise children with better problem-solving skills and empathy.

I chanced upon the book Running On Empty by Jonice Webb with Christine Musello and understood that Childhood Truama can be in a form of Emotional Neglect. This book is the basis of all the reasons for what I do with my children. Given my childhood experience with my parents, I could identify what the authors describe as emotional neglect.

The following is an extract from the book to explain how emotional neglect works.

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"Neglect" is a word used espeically frequently by mental health professionals in the social services . It's commonaly used to refer to a dependent person, such as a child or elder, whose physical needs are not being met. For example, a child who comes to school with no coat in the winter or an elderly shut-in whose adult daughter frequently "forgets" to bring her grocery.

Pure emotional neglect is invinsible. It can be extremely subtle, and it rearely has any physcal or visible signs. In fact, many emotionally neglected children have received excellent physical care. Many comes from families that seem ideal. The people whom I write the book for are unlikely to have been identified as neglected by any outward signs, and are in fact unlikely to have been identified as neglected at all.

So why write a book? After all, of the topic of Emotional Neglect has gone unnoticed by researchers and professionals all these time, how debilitating can it really be? The truth is, people suffering from Emotional Neglect are in pain. But they can't figure out why, and too often, neither can the therpist treating them. In writing this book, I identify, define and suggest solutions to a hidden struggle that often stymies its sufferers and even the professionals to whom they sometimes go to for help. My goal is to help these people who are suffering in silence, wondering what is wrong with them.

There is a good explaination for why Emotional Neglect has been so overlooked. It dwells in the sins of omission, rather than commission; its the white space in the family picture than the picture itself. It's often what was NOT said or observed or remembered from childhood, rather than what WAS said.

For example, parents may provide a lovely home and plenty of food and clothing, and never abuse or mistreat their children. But these same parents may fail to notice their teen child's drus use or simply give him too much freedom rather than set the limits that would lead to conflict. When that teen is an adult, he may look back at an ideal childhood, never realizing that his parents failed him in the way that he needed them most. He may blame himself for whatever difficulties have ensured from his poor choices as a teen. "I was a real handful"; "I had such a great childhood, I have no excuse for not haivng achieve more in life." As a therapist, I have heard these words uttered many times by high functioning , wonderful people who are unaware that Emotional Neglect was an invinsible, powerful force in their childhood. This example offers only one of the infinite numbers of ways that a parent can emotionally neglect a child, leaving him running on empty.

Here I would like to insert very important caveat: We all have examples of how our parents have failed us here and there. No parent is perfect, and no childhood is perfect. We know that huge majority of parents struggle to do what's best for their child. Those of you who are parents know that when we make parenting mistakes, we can almost always correct them. This book is not make parents feel like failures. In fact, throughout the book you'll read about many parents who are loving and well-meaning, but still emotionally neglected their child in some fundamental way. Many emotionally neglectful parents are fine peoples, but were emotionally neglect themselves as children. All parents commit occasional acts pf Emotional Neglect in rasing their children without causing any real harm. It only becomes a problem when it is of great enough breadth or quanity to gradually emotionally "starve" the child.

Whatever the level of parental failure, emtionally neglected people see themselves as the problem, rather than seeing their parents as having failed them.

This is the main reason why I spend alot of time with my children and using my experiene to create content and program. I am testing my method to help my children explore their passion and talents, hoping that it could become a business that help other families. The logic is simple. We are merely using the activities to get parents to pay attention to their children more intimately.

My aunties and uncles were well-provided for. I was well provided for too but sadly there were so many instances when we do not feel "fed" emotionally. I believe my mum has her fair share of emotional neglect as well in a family with so many children. She had to work doubly hard to win approval. Making and giving money is love for a typical Chinese family. Like grandfather, mum is all about proving her worth and ability through money. Love is expressed the same way. She probably ran on empty all her life. And so when she lost fortunate, she is indeed empty. With her fortunate vanish, so did her values, character and self-worth. All was left was bitterness. Someone who was once an inspiration was so broken.

For me, I was the little Singapore princess living in a small town of Malaysia. I didn't understand the special treatment and respect I was getting till I was a nobody, back in Singapore. I was like a fallen royalty.

The book provide a list of syntoms you feel if you are emtionally neglected.

Emotional Neglect Questionnaire:

  1. Sometimes feel like you don’t belong when with your family or friends
  2. Pride yourself on not relying upon others
  3. Have difficulty asking for help
  4. Have friends or family who complain that you are aloof or distant
  5. Feel you have not met your potential in life
  6. Often just want to be left alone
  7. Secretly feel that you may be a fraud
  8. Tend to feel uncomfortable in social situations
  9. Often feel disappointed with, or angry at, yourself
  10. Judge yourself to others and often find yourself sadly lacking
  11. Compare yourself to others and often find yourself sadly lacking
  12. Find it easier to love animals than people
  13. Often feel irritable or unhappy for no apparent reason
  14. Have trouble knowing what you are feeling
  15. Have trouble identifying your strengths and weaknesses
  16. Sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in
  17. Believe you’re one of those people who could easily live as hermit
  18. Have trouble calming yourself
  19. Feel there’s something holding you back from being present in the moment.
  20. At times feel empty inside
  21. Secretly feel there’s something wrong with you
  22. Struggle with self-discipline

I easily have more than half of the listed symtons. And without a diagnosis I am already certain. Too many times the memories of what happen in childhood still trigger me today. And till this day my parents are none wiser what is their problem. As I grow older I am no longer feel the need to correct them or go into fights. Acceptance is a powerful thing. You cannot change your parents but you can accept who they are and adapt around them. Old hurt and new hurt will always be resurfacing. It is normal I guess unless there is zilch interaction so that you can heal the old hurt.

There are far too many things that we cannot plan for in life but one thing is if you are reading my blog. Perhaps you can think about your own childhood and your reasons if you want to be a parent. It is only then you feel more what does parenting means to you. As evident that, the inheritance did nothing for the children in my story. With my involvement, I hope at least I am starting a new line where my children and their children will begin a new generation where childhood matters and deep relationship becomes a family heritage.

Do let me know your experience and your thoughts.