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  • Parenting can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers and listens without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where parents can share the joys, pain and the mess that is parenthood.
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    I would like to mention off the bat that I can’t say I’m a single dad because I think that applies only to fathers who raise their kids themselves. My children, however,  are with their mom. I describe myself as an estranged father, and there are many of us outcasts in this world.  

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    Yes, I screwed up. 

    I daresay it’s not because of what you, who are reading this, are probably thinking right now. Nevertheless, I’m man enough to take responsibility for what happened. And I’ve realized that maybe being away from my kids a lot can make me a better person and a better father.

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    My philosophy now is we, dads, need to aspire to be a “hero” to our kids (or what I call the “Batdad perspective”). I’m not talking about having to beat up bank robbers. It can be stuff that happens at work or examples of how one can help like when you hung out with their Ninong Robby because he got his heart broken again. A three-point shot you made that won the pick-up game can be heroic for a dad, but you know what’s even better? Telling them how you practiced good sportsmanship when your team lost.

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    You are imparting values by setting an example. I can’t stress enough how these dad stories can profoundly affect your kids’ relationship with you — and how they think of you.

    “A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.” — Batman

    Ten years ago, I made a film about deaf people, and I gained a great understanding of their community. In 2014, I saw a viral post that cruelly made fun of a student’s “faulty” English. I saw a familiar pattern on how this person wrote in English, and it made me suspect he was deaf — I was correct.

    So I posted a statement on my Facebook, reacting to the bashing this deaf student was receiving. I shared what I knew of the deaf community and why it was wrong to quickly judge that person’s English grammar (or anyone, for that matter).

    PHOTO BY courtesy of Mike E. Sandejas
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    After uploading on my Facebook wall —  the post was public — I went to sleep and woke up to find that my post had gone viral. Several online content sites featured it as well, and the post even appeared on my kids’ feeds as well.

    I didn’t need to put on a cape to be a hero of sorts — I just needed to be a decent person who stood up for what was right.
    ILLUSTRATOR Mike E. Sandejas
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    The hard part about this hero thing is now I have to be consistent. I need to be extra mindful of words and actions and not be a bully myself. I find myself developing into a kinder and more compassionate person. 

    I’m far, far from perfect. I still have many faults. I have brilliant kids who sometimes scold me if I’m misbehaving. And there is nothing worse than that feeling when your child is correct in telling you that you’re wrong. Well, maybe that’s why Batman always has a Robin — to keep him in line. Luckily, I have four.

    Mike Escareal Sandejas, dgpi is a film director, writer, producer and teacher. An award winning indie filmmaker whose work was accepted in several international film festivals, Mike also creates content as creative director of Ubuntu Premium Studios. Mike was a former president of the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines, Inc. He spends his weekdays thinking about what creative activity to do with his four daughters during the weekend.

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