Sunday, 3 May 2015

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Reflection: 10+ Things I Have Learned As A Mom from the Bali 9 Duo


Many of us have been following the heart-wrenching tragic stories of the two Australian drug smugglers who were recently executed in Indonesia. My heart went out to them and their parents. And I am also amazed at their transformation and proud of their achievements in their last 10 years in prison.

As a mom, I have learned a lot from the tragic Bali duo who experienced troubled childhood. How can we learn from their stories as we do our best to guide our children towards the right path? What parenting lessons can we glean from here?

Here are the 10 things I have reflected and learned:

1. Importance of Having a Skill or a Hobby

One does not have to be academically inclined, but it is very important for a child to learn a skill and to feel that they are good at something.

"Before I got arrested, I was never really good at anything. Zero skills or hobbies, no real direction in life," said Myuran Sukumaran

After Sukumaran got arrested in prison, he learned a skill and developed a hobby - he became an accomplished painter. That gave him something worthwhile to spend his time on, and at the same time enabled him to earn an honest living which he used the money to help improve the living conditions of his fellow inmates.

2. Sufficient to be good at just ONE thing

Your child does not have to be a super-kid, he just needs to be good at ONE thing. The extroverted Andrew Chan has the gift of the gab and natural leadership skills. He became a passionate leader/preacher and motivational speaker, which he sharpened during his time in prison.

Introverts need not despair either. A picture paints a thousand words. The introverted Myuran Sukumaran "spoke" through his art, which he perfected during his time in prison, with no least eloquence. In his own quiet way, he led others. God is fair. We all have something that we can excel in, that we can use to make a living.

We just need to pray and discover that one strength of our child. This we can do by trial-and-error, by letting our child try out different activities without putting performance pressure on them. And we need to pray for discernment and wisdom on the right balance of activities, so that we avoid over-scheduling our children.

3. Importance of Spending Time with Your Child

Andrew Chan's parents were working punishing hours managing a chain of Chinese restaurants across Sydney to support the family, and did not have so much time to spend with him as a child. As a child, he had the freedom to roam and to get into bad company, which led to his tragic down fall.

It is important to spend time with your child and to supervise them. DO NOT delegate such critical parental responsibilities to others. When your child is older, it will be too late. Heart training and character-building have to start young and it takes time. This we can do so by having a strong family culture and family traditions.

It is better to drink watery porridge every day, take public transport, wear old clothes and have time at home to spend with your child, than to work your butt off having more than one job to earn better material comforts for your children, but no time to supervise them.

Although not all moms are called to be stay-at-home, nor is it suitable for all moms to stay at home, do not underestimate the importance of stay-at-home-moms, even if their work does not generate any tangible monetary value. Having a central person at home full-time to bring the family together is very important.

4. Prison May Not Be a Bad Thing

Sometimes, no matter how much we try, we are not able to convince our children to listen to our advice and to choose the right path. DO NOT blame yourself for being a failure as a parent. Though I do not wish it on anyone, and hard as it may be, being in prison may actually help our children to finally mature and see the light.

Facing hardships in the prison, stripped of every bit of freedom and quality of life, helped them to realise that putting your head down to go to study and learning a skill is not as hard compared to life in prison. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran both obtained degrees while in prison, one in theology and the other in art. To pass time in prison, without the lures and temptations of the outside world, it enabled them to focus on learning with no distractions.

It is also in prison that both discovered their respective strength - one as a pastor, and the other as an artist.

However, just make sure that your child doesn't land himself in Indonesian prison and its merciless judicial system!

5. Love Conquers All

While in prison, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were visited often. Andrew's baby nephew even flew from Australia to Indonesia to visit him. Such love sustained the two of them, and helped them to reform themselves, because they matter to their loved ones.

In fact, what hurt them the most, is the pain they had inflicted on their loved ones. Such love made them remorseful to change.

No matter how bleak the situation, DO NOT stop loving your child and having hope in them.

6. Second Chance

We all deserve a second chance. No matter what your child has done wrong in the past, do not concentrate on it. Have hope, believe in your child, no matter what. If you do not, who will do so for your child?

In the case of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, although the Indonesian government did not give them a second chance, the Australians, their moms, their dads, their extended families and God did. This enabled their recovery to the path of repentance.

Never give up on your child. God has not.

7. Do Not Judge Other People's Kids

We are all prone to judge others. We look at the delinquents on our streets and roll our eye-balls. We label them as beyond hope. But behind each delinquent child is a story of hurts and pains that only with love, care and an empathetic heart that the whole community can mobilize to overcome and reduce such social problems. Everyone deserves respect.

8. No Matter How Low We Have Fallen, We Can Still Help Others

No matter how low we fell, no matter how bad we were, no matter how inadequate we feel now, DO NOT look down on yourself. The Australians did not look down on Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. God did not look down on them. Each one of us, no matter how insignificance, has the ability to help others and to make a difference in others life, even the drug addicts. Convicts such as Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have shown us that. The reformed drug addicts have the power to encourage and give strength and hope to the other drug addicts. We all have something to contribute and make this society a better place. Never look down on yourself.

9. The Simple Joys of Life Is What Counts

At the end of the day, it is the simple joys in life that one will come to miss. In prison, one sees this clearer:

"I've missed weddings, I've missed funerals and the simple presence of my own family." Andrew Chan said.

10. God Gives Us the True Meaning of Life

To persevere to learn a skill, to have hope and the desire to live, you must know the meaning and purpose of life. Otherwise, one will just drift around aimlessly without any direction in life. These two inmates came to know the Lord Jesus personally, while they were in prison. That gave them the reason to live and the courage to also say goodbye to life with dignity at the hour of their execution.

In fact, Andrew Chan once contemplated suicide. Just before he took the last leap, he decided to read the Bible, and thereafter he decided that he would not take his own life.

Whether in sickness or in health, free or in prison, our life is sacred and have meaning. Though some of us may have led "an absolutely wasted life," the testimony of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran showed that God can truly turn it fully around.

Though their lives were short, what they have achieved in 10 years of prison may put many of us, including me, to shame compared with what we have achieved at the prime of our own lives.

We have to pray and intercede for our children that they will find the true meaning of life, so that they do not walk around, wasting time and with absolutely no direction in life.

God gives us the true meaning of life that enables us to carry on and makes our life beautiful.

10+ Australians Are Great and Wise

Last but not least, this incident filled with admiration and respect for the Australians. I think the Australians are a very wise, big-hearted and great people and nation. They are united in giving these convicts a second chance. They stood up for fairness. They fought hard for their release, regardless of their ethnicity. When the time for such test comes, I would wish the same for Singapore and Denmark.

References:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30997099

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3060842/My-life-perfect-example-absolute-waste-Andrew-Chan-s-haunting-letter-schoolchildren-world-warning-dangers-drugs.html

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/68217131/bali-9-executions-andrew-chans-letter-to-the-nephew-he-adored



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