SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting

June 2024

From Gambling Debt to Devoted Dad: A High Stakes Learning Journey

Looking at 47-year-old Raymond Lim today, you would never guess that he was once a gambling addict. The founder of RL Consultancy, an inspirational speaker, trainer, and coach, is happily married and a devoted dad to two young children. Yet life could have turned out very differently, because as a young adult, his destructive habit led him into significant debt and distress.

Since turning his life around, however, Raymond devotes what free time he has to guiding individuals struggling with gambling addiction, leading a church group that offers counselling and support to families facing similar challenges, and sharing his story wherever he might make a difference.


Six-figure Gambling Debt by Age 24

“I didn’t harbour any big ambitions when I was young — I was a little bit ‘lost’, one might say. So, following in the footsteps of my older brother, I studied engineering even though I had no interest in it. While I did graduate with a Diploma in Engineering, I was also working part-time in bars at night to earn more money. And that’s when my path started to stray.

My foray into gambling began at 17, starting innocently with mahjong sessions among friends, then escalating to jackpot venues. Further influenced by colleagues where I worked, either as waiters or apprentice bartenders, I began to explore drinking and smoking as well. Clubbing, parties, gambling, and late nights began to define my social life.

At 19, I started my NS in the army. On days off, I worked part-time during the day and spent the nights playing mahjong. With each windfall, I became bolder, believing that I possessed skill and luck. My high stakes in mahjong opened doors to new friends, who taught me to gamble on horse-racing. They showed me the ropes — how to read a horse’s ability, make predictions, and weigh the odds in races.


After NS, I found a job as an assistant sales engineer and since I had a permanent job, I was able to apply for credit cards. With access to credit, my gambling habits turned into a full-blown gambling addiction — I was hooked on the euphoria of winning. Whenever I lost, I believed that it was just luck; the next bet would be a winning hand. I also started borrowing money from family and friends.

The total debt I managed to rack up was approximately $186,000 and I wasn’t even 24 years old yet.

Turning My Life Around

A recent photo of Raymond and Diane

Everything came to a head when I realised that I couldn’t continue living like this anymore. I needed to change my life. With the support of friends, family, and my then-girlfriend, Diane, I gradually stopped. Every time I felt the urge to gamble, I would ring the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) hotline.

In order to pay off my debts, I took a job in insurance, which has no glass ceiling in earnings. I also continued working nights at bars. It took two years and a lot of self-discipline to pay off my debts.

Meeting Diane marked a significant turning point in my life. Embracing responsibility for someone other than myself — for people who love me — starting with her, reshaped my priorities and perspectives. It’s a beautiful acknowledgment of the transformative power of love and responsibility in shaping our lives.

At 29 years old, I walked down the aisle with Diane. She has been my greatest source of strength and support since the beginning. And until today, she continues to be an inspiration to me and our two children. She’s a wonderful mother and the best partner that I could ever wish for.


Tough Road to Parenthood

When we finally received the good news, we were overjoyed. Diane had three miscarriages and endured three rounds of IVF. In fact, we waited for about 10 to 11 years before Timothy came along.

I read up quite a fair bit about parenthood on my own and also with my wife. We immersed ourselves in several prenatal classes and workshops, preparing meticulously for the arrival of our little one. For example, we learnt how to shower and care for infants, child CPR, and about baby food and nutrition.

The journey from anticipating fatherhood to witnessing the birth of our child was marked by excitement and sense of responsibility. I was a hands-on dad from the start. I showered my son frequently during his first two years (we didn’t have a helper then). His favourite colour was yellow — yellow boats, yellow clothes, yellow everyday items….

Juggling work with a newborn was undoubtedly tough. Many priorities had to shift during that first year to ensure I could be more present at home. Balancing career demands with the responsibilities of fatherhood required careful planning and a willingness to adapt, but it was essential for building a strong family foundation.

It took another four rounds of IVF and almost two years of waiting for our second child. My wife and I were determined to give Timothy a sibling. I keep saying that Diane’s unwavering resolve was the driving force in this journey. Our family was complete when our daughter, Mikayla, joined us.


My Parenting Style

Fatherhood profoundly changed me, prompting deep introspection and a strong desire for self-improvement in both my personal and professional lives.

A young Raymond with his father

I was raised by hardworking parents. My dad was strict and often worked overtime to support our family’s financial needs. My late mum was a homemaker who kept our home neat and tidy, and ensured that we were all well-fed and healthy. While I felt their love and care, there were times my parents argued when I was a teenager, and it made me not want to be home.

My wife, too, is a dedicated stay-at-home mum. As her husband, I strive to be supportive, communicative, and attentive to her needs, ensuring we navigate life’s challenges together as a team. As a dad, I am dedicated, nurturing, and fully engaged in my children’s lives, cherishing every moment of their growth.

I make sure to spend quality time with them every day. We also enjoy sports and regularly participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking, swimming, and forest schools, together. Whenever I travel, be it for work or leisure, I make it a point to bring my family along. This way, we can expose the kids to the world at an early age, so that they learn how to be good and savvy travellers.


My family is my top priority, and their well-being and happiness drive me to be the best version of myself. I am willing to make significant sacrifices for them, whether it’s adjusting my career priorities to spend more time at home or foregoing personal interests to support their needs.

Sharing Parenting Responsibilities

Timothy is now eight, and Mikayla is four. My wife and I have homeschooled them from day one. We share both parenting and educational responsibilities through a complementary dual approach. Diane focuses on the day-to-day academic and structured aspects, ensuring they have a solid foundation in their studies.

On the other hand, I emphasise play-based learning and incorporate valuable life skills. These include lessons on core values, such as how to respect and care for others. Together, we provide a well-rounded upbringing for our children.

We also practise open parenting. For example, I encourage Timothy to share more about his thoughts and opinions on matters. I try to motivate him and encourage him to be braver and bolder as he grows older.


One of my most memorable experiences was a father-son trip to Phuket we took three years ago. It allowed me to learn more about him as a person — his habits, decision-making process, and preferred learning style. We shared meaningful conversations over meals, laughed, and reflected on our activities together. From exploring an elephant sanctuary and enjoying tuk-tuk rides to visiting the Phuket Zoo and splashing around in water parks, every moment was full of joy and discovery, creating lasting memories and deepening our bond.

Another significant moment was a casual public speaking event in Singapore at the end of last year. Timothy gained a clearer understanding of my work, which led to meaningful discussions and a greater appreciation of what I do. This experience let him see another dimension of his father and brought us closer.

Parenting is a Learning Journey

We strive to instil core values and traits in our children that will guide them throughout their lives:

  • Have gratitude
  • Serve with integrity
  • Be brave and courageous
  • Have respect for others
  • Be resourceful
  • Be willing to try


Yet my journey as a parent has taught me as many lessons as I hope to impart to my children. These are some parenting tips that I’ve learnt from our experiences:

Lead by example: Children learn by observing. Demonstrate the values you wish to instil through your own actions.

Create learning opportunities: Encourage exploration and learning through outdoor play and real-world experiences.

Foster independence: Allow your children to make decisions and learn from their mistakes; this fosters resilience and self-reliance.

Show unconditional love: Provide consistent support and love, and ensure your children know they are valued and cherished.

Looking to the future, I aspire to imbue my children with essential life skills and a positive mindset. I wish to leave behind a legacy of resilience, problem-solving abilities, and entrepreneurship. Personally, I would love that my children take over my businesses when they grow up, but that is entirely up to their own dreams and passions.”

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Raymond Lim and son Timothy hiking

From Gambling Debt to Devoted Dad: A High Stakes Learning Journey