Tough Love: a reflection from an ashamed son

By Anonymous, Singapore

If you’re a Chinese like me, then you’re probably no stranger to tough love. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all Chinese parents hit their kids, but it’s a fact that China has been receiving much flak for its infamous corporal punishment in the home. We even have a mandarin proverb, which literally translated means, “Beating is a sign of affection, scolding is a sign of love.”

Before I go on, let me make it clear, I’m neither condoning physical discipline, nor am I condemning it. Honestly, I feel that it has developed positive traits in me that I would otherwise not have had my father decided to “spare the rod and spoil the child.” On the other hand, it has given me scars—emotional scars (now that the physical ones have long faded away) that will develop issues for me until I can finally resolve them.

Another thing I would like to put out there is that I’m not trying to garner your sympathy nor generate anger toward my father. The point of this article, believe it or not, is more of a therapeutic exercise for me than it is a sharing session. That said, I still hope you will be able to take home some lessons I’ve learnt. Oh and before I forget, a Happy Father’s Day in advance.

The last happy experience I had with my dad—that is as I could remember—is when he was bouncing me on his lap as a child at a restaurant. Other than that, our relationship throughout the years to come have been more of a formal one, and more often than not, filled with torment for me (I’m pretty sure he suffered too).

In his defense, I wasn’t the most well behaved child. According to my relatives, my misbehavior seemed to be because I was born in the zodiac year of the monkey and that I had two hair whorls—both are “signs” of a headstrong, misbehaving, and naughty child.

As a result, I’ve spent many nights in the dark, sobbing with copious amounts of dribbling snot as I knelt on LEGO tiles while pulling hard on my own earlobes. My siblings suffered the same fate too.

When I was 12, something came over me and I retaliated, fighting tooth and nail to retain my right to do what I wanted. I won’t go through what I did to my father because I am still ashamed of it, but when it was over, he was lying on the floor clutching his chest while hyperventilating as I sneered in his face.

It was then that I first witnessed the prowess of my anger, without understanding how weak it actually made me. I began to harness it more when relating with my parents, using death threats and twice, even kitchen knives to get my way. Even after I accepted Christ (I was never really a faithful church goer), I was unable to get rid of that tightly wound Jack in a Box.

Years later, anger has still gotten the best of me. Tempers flared and rage bellowed earlier this year, ending with my father being carried away to the hospital because of a heart attack. And as he was on the stretcher, I cursed him and my mother, blaming everything on them.

As the adrenalin and testosterone levels dipped, I was left alone in my room bawling my eyes out in prayer for his recovery. It was then, in that cold moment, that I realized I needed professional help.

My refusal to rely on medication led me to a Christian counselor, who after listening to my woes, helped me understand my root problem and told me to stop using my anger to communicate with my parents, to let go of all my grievances toward them, and for me to stop trying to heal the relationship. His most valuable piece of advice was to place my trust in the Father above. The exact same Father, who in spite of my numerous times of backsliding and loss of faith, has never forgotten me. “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is” (2 Timothy 2:13 NLT).

Months have passed since my father was released from the hospital, and we haven’t really spoken since, let alone look each other in the eyes. And as Fathers’ Day looms around the corner, things will only get more tense and awkward. I cannot tell what will happen in the future between my father and I, but I know that the Lord will be alongside me the entire way. He is able to change me and help me to do the right.

All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. . . . But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) . . . So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:3-7).

9 replies
  1. Joan
    Joan says:

    To forgive is the best things to do and let go of the past!

    God said to honor your parents!! He is the creator….,

  2. Phil B
    Phil B says:

    Hang in there Brother!!!!

    God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Pslm 46:1

    To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isa 61:3

    I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 4:18

    And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matt 19:29

    And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Eph 6:4

    Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Col 3

    And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 2 Kings 17:17

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

    It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

    It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-7

  3. Ijeoma emenam
    Ijeoma emenam says:

    Forgiving others truly does something for us, it removes the seed of bitterness which enslaves us and may cause sickness in our body. Forgivess- forgive yourself and then the one who hurt you, another step in this direction is to pray for them, doing this will bring healing to you. But know that God is a judge and he knows what to do about others, so do your part and let Him restore any broken relationship

  4. easy does it
    easy does it says:

    I think the principle of sparing the rod spilling the child is entrenched in the Bible itself (Proverbs?). Sorry am not so schooled in Bible verses. Not all children can respond positively to just talks and counselling especially at young age. Some physical punishment meted out APPROPRIATELY will do long term wonders for the child. That’s why there is so much sins and crimes in the modern world now, because of social disdain for such punishment.

    I was never beaten by my dad nor my mum though we are a traditional Chinese family. That’s why i am really spoilt and uncontrollable. If not for the Lord’s grace i would probably be living in pits of moral filth and irredeemable.

    We certainly need to bring back some form of physical punishment.

  5. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Hosea 10:12 Sow righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love and break up your unplowed ground
    For it is time to seek the Lord,
    Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

    Jesus can do more than we could ever ask or imagine. For the past 2 weeks I have incredibly backslided, all the while flailing around trying to “fix myself,” in the process. I broke down, fell to my knees and asked His forgiveness. Our Father is merely waiting for our return and will throw a party for us just like the father of the prodigal son.

    Jesus by His blood can mend our deepest wounds, including the ones we have inflicted on others. When we are ” saved by grace through faith,” we can set out guilt aside for our debts have been paid. Be a new creature in the peace that is given to you. Lift up the Jesus in your life, reflect the love that’s been shown to you and if it is his will a chance will be given for redemption of relationships.

    His love is always enough. Great song: Chris Tomlin- how great is our God. Another: white flag by him

    I don’t know you brother but I know God has called you to be far more for Him, using your time, treasures and talents to serve. The old is gone, the new is here 🙂 God bless you and your family.


  6. felina
    felina says:

    Wat may seem upside down to u,is right side up to God. Bro let go n let God.Forgive as God forgive us.* Jesus is the centre of your life.Believe He has purpose for u,make use of wisdom,love,faith n truth to follow his footstep.Smile n forgive.GBU wif His words!

  7. Megan Low/L0uD.Gr4c3
    Megan Low/L0uD.Gr4c3 says:

    Take heart, bro.
    It was for sinners such as us that Christ died, and in our weakness, He is strong: He who has the power to turn the worst of people into the best for His glory.

  8. Z
    Z says:

    Thanks for sharing.Romans 8:15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Our Father is heaven is the perfect heavenly father. No earthly father can ever match up to Him. He sent His son Jesus to take away all ur shame and pain. It takes time to heal from hurts but always remember that though the grace of God, He can heal us and we can forgive and be set free.


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