My dad was not a very hands-on parent when I was growing up. In fact, to be perfectly honest (and he knows all of this now), my siblings and I used to be scared of him when we were little. He had a bad temper, and practiced what I now know to be “authoritarian parenting,” which, according to Dr. Gwenn Dewar, has the parent acting as a “drill sergeant” who “insists on unquestioning obedience.”
Things started to change when I became a teen, though, after my parents started attending certain activities at our church which helped my dad, in particular, to change and become a better parent.
Fast forward to the present day. I am now a parent myself, and, despite my father’s misgivings when I was young, I can say that I can look back on my childhood with fondness. I can also say that I have learned a lot from Papa. Whether he knows it or not, he has taught me important lessons on how to be the best parent I can be for my kids. Here are some of them:
1. When it comes to your kids, there is no sacrifice too great. Like millions of other Filipino parents, my dad became an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) primarily because he wanted to do the best he could to meet the needs of our family. Coming from a poor family, he wanted to give us “the best” life has to offer, and endured being away from us just so he could do that.
Eventually though, our family was able to join him where he was based, and my mom was able to find a job too. Still, there were sacrifices that both he and Mama had to make, and to this day, my siblings and I are grateful to them for everything that they have done to make our lives easier.
Indeed, once you become a parent, you are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that your kids are well-provided for.
2. Family time is important. My Papa always emphasized the importance of spending time together as a family. To this day, I remember the fun times we had playing card games, Pictionary, and Monopoly together. I remember our family walks around our neighbourhood, playing patintero outside under the stars during brownouts, and “family meetings,” when we would discuss our goals, dreams, and even our problems.
Even now, with my siblings and I all grown up, and three out of four of us with our own families, Papa makes sure that we all spend time together as a family whenever possible. Quality time with family always takes top priority.
3. It’s never too late to decide to be a better parent. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my dad. As I previously mentioned, he was not the “best” parent while I was growing up. However, he did take steps to change his “bad” traits, and improve his parenting skills.
That is why whenever I feel like I am being a “bad” parent (which is most days!), I remind myself of how Papa became a better parent, and push myself to try harder, love more, and be more patient, which is, really, all I could do. After all, there is no such thing as a “perfect parent.”
4. Wise parents know how to handle their finances, and teach their kids to do the same too. Admittedly, financial literacy is something that my dad did not have when I was still young. Yes, he was a very frugal parent, and taught us the value of hard work and saving our money. But he also made mistakes when it came to investing his and Mama’s hard-earned income. They fell victim to “get-rich-quick” money-making scams and lost quite a bit of their savings.
Fortunately, Papa was able to attend free financial literacy seminars some years ago. He hasn’t stopped learning since then, and has even been giving investment advice to people online and offline, especially to OFWs. He always reminds me and my siblings about the importance of financial education and making sound investments, and encourages us to pass on the same financial knowledge to our kids.
5. A good education is important, but faith and good character matter more. When we were growing up, my dad would constantly remind us of the importance of having a good education, and of how it was “the best gift and legacy” that he and Mama could leave us with.
However, after their spiritual renewal, he realized that the latter may not necessarily be true, because no matter how highly educated you are, you will still be a failure in life if you don’t have good character. Also, if your faith is not strong, it will be difficult for you to maneuver life’s downs and ups, something which my parents realized after our family went through really trying times.
I’m thankful, then, that Papa has taught me that beyond providing my kids with a sound academic education, I should also be training their character and strengthening their faith.
My dad is not a perfect parent, and I know he never will be one. Still, he is the best dad for me, and he will continue to be so. I am really thankful that I get to learn so many things from him, even up to this day.
How about you? What parenting lessons have you learned from your own dad? Share them with us in the comments!