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Welcome to Letters To My Daughter, a series of web posts celebrating mother-daughter relationships this Mother’s Day. Five mums share heartfelt, honest notes to their girls, to express their love and to empower them with their words of wisdom. 


This letter is from The SIngapore Women’s Weekly’s Editor-in-Chief Barbara Koh, to her daughter Sarah Swee, who is in her final term at Nanyang Technological University.

 Mother's Day _Letter to my daughter_Barbara & Sarah_Shiseido

Dear Sarah,

As you ready yourself for the working world, I’m excited for you! There is much to be accomplished and much to grab hold of, but it takes a seeker, a pursuer, an adventurer. And though I hope for only pain-free days for you, knocks, challenges and setbacks are inevitable. And that’s when I hope you’ll turn to this letter – to seek relief from that sting.

You are a strong young woman, and let no one tell you otherwise. Your mental capacity and ability to focus and stay motivated to achieve a goal is admirable. Continue to live life passionately and let time be your teacher, harness it to build your inner strength.

Growing up, I had the privilege of growing up in the household of a super-strong, super-independent grandmother, but it was only after I had you that I discovered that I too possessed such strength. You showed me I could be a power mum – not a tiger mum, and not a perfect mum by any means, but someone who could happily juggle work and family life. Being able to raise you well counts as one of my life’s achievements, and I’m thankful that you’ve helped bring that out in me. Just as my grandma was an example and source of strength for me, I hope that I will be that role model for you.

Mother's Day _Letter to my daughter_Barbara & Sarah in Hong Kong_Shiseido
Exploring Hong Kong together.

I’m glad that even at such a young age, you have had the opportunity to see many parts of the world, and that has helped you develop a wider perspective on things. Savour your youth and use this time to explore different places, soaking in different cultures and experiences so you’ll have a better understanding of human nature and, more importantly, to develop a bigger heart for humankind.

You are blessed with skills and talents, which I know are life assets. When time comes for you to lead, do it with humility. The leaders who have stood out for me have not been those who graduated with first class honours or come from an Ivy League school, but those who are people centric – the servant leaders who inspire, who treat people with dignity… It doesn’t mean settling or expecting less, but by valuing people, the extraordinary will arise from the normal, naturally.

Mother's Day _Letter to my daughter_Barbara & Sarah in London_Shiseido
Sharing a lippie passion!

On love… He is not your man if you need to see him change because he loves you; he is not your man if he constantly tears you down; and he is certainly not your man if he continues to break your heart and spirit with his words and actions. The man for you is the man who shares your values and beliefs, and who is unafraid for you to be the best person you are – in fact, he will be your anchor and the wind beneath your wings.

Mother's Day _Letter to my daughter_Barbara & Sarah in Hong Kong_Shiseido
A special mother-daughter moment: Getting same (almost) tattoos! Sarah’s says “faith” in Korean characters.

Let not the world brand you. Gen X, Gen Y, Millenial… it is okay to be a-typical. Be unashamed of virtues such as integrity, honesty, decency. These are what will keep you timelessly beautiful. Develop substance from within. Be upright. Be bold. And most importantly, keep the faith. I know these traits will carry you well through life. So fly, my little butterfly!

You’ll Always Be My Baby.
Love, Mum


To celebrate Mother’s Day, Shiseido has created five special, pampering gift sets. Named Strength, Time, Youth, Extravagance and Luminosity, they are specially curated to pamper mums with different lifestyles and needs. Just pick the one that suits that special woman in your life.

Letter To My Daughter: “I Treasure Every Minute We Have Together”
Letter To My Daughter: “Embrace Your Strengths & Acknowledge Your Weaknesses”
Letter To My Daughter: “You Have Been My Strength When I Needed It Most”