“Yu-Gi-Oh!” is a word my Dad has problems pronouncing correctly.

I am sure many adults have not heard of it, let alone know what it is.

It is a trading card game based on the Japanese comic mega-hit. It is quite a mentally stimulating game that requires the players to outwit each other by assembling the best cards.

For me, “Yu-Gi-Oh!” spells trouble with…

…my Dad. Whenever he sees me playing the cards or reading magazines about the latest cards available and the best strategies, he will snarl at me for “wasting my life away”.

I can understand how he feels.

One day, seeing that that he was in a good mood, I asked him to play the game with me. It turned out to be a bad idea. For the next hour (well, it seemed that long), he blasted my ears with what I could do better with my time like an irate discipline master. My effort to promote father-son bonding through “Yu-Gi-Oh!” flew out of the window.

Sun Tzu, a military general known for his war strategies, said: “A leader can conquer on horseback, but must dismount to rule.”

I think he has a message for all parents who want to share their children’s lives. If you want to protect, guide and care for your children, you must come down to their level. You must get involved in their activities and not expect them to act like adults.

Not too long ago, fanatical fans of Taiwanese boy band 5566 set up camp at IMM building in Jurong East just to be first in line to catch their performance.

Such queues, which can sometimes form for days, are not uncommon when big stars are in town to give a concert or sign autographs.

Parents who found out that their children skipped school to be in the queue were naturally upset. But they could have saved the situation if they had participated in the activity.

There is no reason for the children to miss school if their parents had waited in the queue for them during the day.

What’s more, when all is quiet at night and their children join them, there is plenty of opportunity for them to listen to their children talk as there is not much they can do while camping outside the building.

They can then understand their children’s feelings, thoughts and dreams.

If you think it is a silly idea to involve yourself in your children’s interests, think again.

Have you heard of online games such as “Maple Story”, “Gunbound” or “Runescape”?

I was pleasantly surprised that the National Kidney Foundation’s chairman, Mr Gerard Ee, asked me if I played the online games. He told me he did.

Is he too “old” to play the games? Is it beneath him to do so? I don’t think so, as he is enjoying them with his 13-year-old son.

He said: “It provides a good opportunity for me to bond with my son. There is so much to talk about.”

It is not always that we children want our parents to be involved in our activities. Sometimes, we need our own space to do what we like.

To my parents’ credit, they allow me to invite my friends over during school holidays for many “happy hours”. We have a lot of fun and very little sleep. By the way, this is a privilege I get if my parents are satisfied with my examination results – which is fair because I know I have to play my part if I want to enjoy the benefits.

For parents to be able to care, guide and nurture their children effectively, they have to understand them by being with them and supporting them.

(This entry can be found in the TODAY of 13 December 2005)