Hi Grace Tan, thank you for doing this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a little bubbly, Nyonya girl from Malacca that has been married for 14 years to a wonderful man named Alex. I have 2 children aged 6 and 8 this year. In the early years of my career, I used to be a film / TV editor for programs such as 3R (Respect, Relax, Respond) amongst other shows. However, in 2008, I started my own photography and video production company (Stories), and have photographed hundreds of weddings and families through the years.
My passion is to provide expertise for brands who value building healthy families, sustainable living, and a positive culture. In 2020, I was awarded the title Canon EOS ambassador. In 2006, I started the brand Comma: Rethink Life. I am passionate about providing support for couples and families so they can thrive in their relationships. I am currently pursuing a coaching certification to bring that vision to greater heights.
What inspired you to start Comma: Rethink Life? When did the idea become more than an idea for you?
The idea for Comma: Rethink Life was born in 2016. As I mentioned, I was a wedding photographer for many years and what stood out for me was how much effort people put into preparing for a wedding, but not the marriage. It saddens me when I see marriages break up and families torn apart due to conflict and irreconcilable differences. We spend many years educating ourselves in our career, but most of us do not invest time in educating ourselves on how to be a better spouse or parent.
Through my own journey as a wife and parent, I have struggled too. While there is no perfect way to be a spouse or parent, I wanted to start conversations with other people about their journeys, regardless of whatever background they come from. I also hope to share nuggets of wisdom from the books or courses that I have learned from. So Comma began as a space for me to publish my thoughts and connect with other families. It is my dream to challenge individuals to pause, reflect and rethink marriage, parenting and their life in general.
How has Comma: Rethink Life evolved and what challenges did you have to overcome?
Oh, initially, I was really afraid of being in the limelight (through my videos or postings), especially since I was no marriage or parenting expert. My own insecurities overwhelmed me and I felt worried about the whole process. So I created 7 videos in 2016, but after that year, I didn’t do anything about Comma till 2018! However, ever since I decided to embrace my own struggles as being authentic, I began to feel more comfortable.
The turning point happened when I managed to connect with other like minded individuals who started to work alongside with me to bring my vision to pass. So now, I have organised a few workshops and hope to continue to build a community where families can find support through this site. I couldn’t have done it through the support of the people who have come into my life.
What’s a typical day like for you and how do you juggle parenthood with running a website?
Well, majority of my time currently is still on running my photography and video production business as that pays the bills! When I am not running after other people’s children (photographing them), I am running after my own. Especially during this MCO season, it’s not easy to be a working parent that has to juggle business, studying and going for coaching classes, managing my children’s schoolwork, and create content for Comma. Thankfully, I do have a wonderful team that helps me with various tasks so that I can have the time to do the things I really need to focus on. I also have a supportive husband and in-laws so that is super important to me! When I need to work, they are there to take over with the kids when needed.
What is your favourite project you have worked on so far and why?
For Comma, I ran a marriage workshop in Feb 2020 about the famous 5 Love Languages concept, created by Gary Chapman. It was a successful workshop as I did it with my husband and another trainer, Segar Moses.
We used the concepts from the book and also created many practical activities and reflection sessions to make this workshop engaging and not just a talking heads session. What was satisfying was to see the response from the participants and how they benefited from the session and relationships improving as a result of it!
Last question, name 5 important parenting books every parent should read and why. Feel free to suggest more than 5.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish – Teaches tools and techniques on how to speak to children respectfully instead of yelling and how to cope with your children’s negative feelings.
Making Children Mind without Losing Yours by Dr Kevin Leman – Equips parents with reality discipline, a loving, no-nonsense parenting approach.
Parenting With Love And Logic by Foster Cline & Jim Fay – Teaching children responsibility without nagging, anger or threats.
Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish – Teaching siblings on how to cope with conflict and encourage cooperation.
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – While this is not a parenting book, I believe it is important to maintain a great marriage so that children can thrive. This book teaches us on how to fuel our love tank daily. There is also a version specific for children.