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Turning memories of childhood into a parenting tool

June 15, 2014 6:20pm
Part of a series on dads—and being a dad—for Father's Day.

When it became my turn to be a father 20 years ago, I had no idea about fatherhood, except maybe for basic ideas about feeding, clothing, sheltering, and sending my children to school.

I turned to books on parenting but there seemed to be no handbook for such a task. All I got from my readings were information drawn from parents' experiences that seemed to be so distant and vague to me.

But when I'm home, the need to interact with my children comes minute by minute, and such interactions cannot be rehearsed. Often, I turn inward to make sense of my half-forgotten memories of how my father did it with us, his children.

Back then, my father's voice was the law. I wanted some more time to play; I wanted to be free from his prying eyes—but that was impossible. Well, from him I learned the virtue of obedience, which proved to be helpful in dealing with my bosses later in life.

As far as I can remember, I did not like some of my father's ways. He was always right, all-knowing, and had an over-protective attitude. I could not say no, I could not do things another way. I felt the child in me could not grow and my spirit was unable to soar as high as I would have dared.

But I love him for being there for us in times of trouble, until he died in 1981 from an accident. He was 70.
Now, the memories of how I would have wanted my father to parent me have served as my toolkit in rearing my own children.

I don't demand perfection from them. I play with them as long as they like and as long as my time allows. My words are not a set of rules for them to follow. Some times they call me "old man."  But I keep telling them that I am a young man trapped in an old man's body.

Sometimes they laugh at me for not memorizing the names of hundreds of Pokemons. "How can you be so stupid papa, it's Ursaring!" my youngest would say, referring to the bear-like Pokemon which I failed to identify in one of our games.

I enjoy playing with my children, talking to them as if I were their age. I cannot describe the joy of re-parenting the child within me. I thank my children for giving me a chance to tie some loose ends left from my childhood.

Some of my neighbors told me that I was spoiling my children. I told them, no. My wife is the exact opposite of me. She is the disciplinarian and her words are the house rules. My children follow her.

My way of parenting is my poor attempt at entering into my children's world and finding joy together. I know that soon they will step outside of that world, but I hope that when they do, they will look back on it with a smile.
I love these lines from the Prophet Kahlil Gibran about parenting: “Your children are not your children. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself." — BM, GMA News
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