My Son is Embarking on a New Phase in His Life

Read: Malachi 4:6a “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents”

Our Daily Bread Ministries Malaysia’s designer Sam Goh reflects on the parenting journey as his son leaves for university.

A recent farewell dinner organised by my sister in honour of my son’s departure for university, turned into an evening filled with heartfelt conversations about the essence of parenting. It dawned upon me that my parenting journey revolves around four essential aspects: faith in God, relationship-building, letting go, and being a good example. These four criteria served as guiding principles which I also learnt along the way as I grew in my parenting journey.

Faith serves as a strong foundation for a parent

I submit him to the Lord by constantly praying for him and asking for wisdom

I learnt to put my trust in the Lord for my son. I submit him to the Lord by constantly praying for him and asking for wisdom to guide him. I was further encouraged when he actively participated in our church’s youth service and was involved in faith-based organisations like the Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia.

My wife and I were surprised when he took the initiative to ask us about Christianity, especially about things he’s uncertain about. We see how studying God’s Word guides his path (Psalm 119:105). It provides him with a moral compass, instils a sense of purpose, and encourages him to live a life guided by compassion, integrity, and empathy.

A positive relationship with my son helps him to be more open with me

I’ve found that spending quality time increases open communication with my son, develops his self-esteem, and gives him confidence to face life’s challenges with resilience. It’s not always easy for my wife and I to give our son his space, and to see him as his own person. I was raised in a traditional Malaysian-Chinese family, which obliges children to fulfil their parents’ expectations and wishes.

When some of his thinking and decisions are not aligned with ours, we had to learn to just listen and pray together just as James 1:19b advises, “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” I gave him some advice only when it was needed. I have learnt to adopt this parenting style which is different from how I was raised.

Sometimes, I have to let go in order for him to be more independent

As a parent, it is natural to offer guidance rather than autonomy to our kids. However, I recognise the need to balance guidance and autonomy in order to nurture our child to become an independent and self-sufficient individual. Through trial and error, when he was given more decision-making opportunities, he developed skills from his experiences.

Balance guidance and autonomy in order to nurture our child to become an independent and self-sufficient individual

And over time, having done my best in his childhood to train him up “in the way he should go,” I have learnt to let go more, trusting that “when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV)

Sometimes, I tell myself to be with him on his learning journey

Before he went to university, I thought about the need to emphasise self-discipline. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life…” (James 1:12).

So, I invited him to join my favourite sport, which is running, to get him to practise self-discipline in his daily life. He accepted the challenge. During our runs, it was tough at first and I ran with him. Over time, he has come to persevere and in fact, enjoy it.

Throughout my parenting journey, I have made plenty of mistakes. However, I am grateful to God for the lessons learned and the opportunities to grow. Despite the mix of emotions I feel as our son begins this new chapter, I am amazed at how these mistakes have transformed into blessings.

They have taught me humility, patience, and the importance of embracing imperfection. I have come to realise that it is through these experiences that we learn and become better parents, and become a better person.

DOWNLOAD: Encouragement for Parents: 20-Day Reflection
JOIN: Family Devotion for Pre-Teenagers (Aged 10-14)
FIND: Biblical Wisdom for Parents Resource Website

Beyond academic performance, it is more fulfilling to see the development of a child’s character, values, and integrity. Witnessing our son’s growth and seeing him evolve into a responsible, caring, and compassionate individual has been, second to the joy of knowing Jesus, our ultimate joy.

May all of us who are parents, understand the mission and responsibility that God has given us to teach and guide our children from our Heavenly Father’s perspective. I pray for all fathers around the world that their hearts may turn towards their children, and the hearts of the children may turn towards their fathers (Malachi 4:6), embracing this beautiful life together!


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About the Author​​

Samuel Goh is a graphic designer who gathered his experiences in the advertising and marketing industry and now serves at Our Daily Bread Ministries. He finds solace in the pages of books, the rhythm of his feet hitting the pavement, and the strength he gains from running, weightlifting, and “Tang Soo Do” (Korean martial arts). He cherishes the moments shared with his spouse and two wonderful teenage children.


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