Years ago, when one of my best friends shared his ordeal raising teenagers as a single parent, I remember spending countless hours listening. As someone who had no experience raising my own, I could feel, see, and hear his confusion and frustration. That was the time when I reflected on my own teenage years and tried to recall the troubles I might have caused my dad. “Thinking back about our time when we were their age, do you remember the things we thought our parents could never understand?” That was the line I remember saying when I didn’t know what else to say but tried to calm him down. “Remember Growing Pains?” I said referring to the TV sitcom, “Your kids may think their dad is experiencing growing-older pains to be treating them this way.” That became our personal joke when things got rough. We finally agreed that as teenagers then later parents, most of us probably go through this experience in life. Just like a fever, we need to wait until it breaks, and things will ease off on their own. Meantime, find someone to talk to, share with, so you can get things off your chest.
Whether we are a son or a daughter of a man, each of us has drawn some wisdom, and possibly some pain, from our father. My mom died when I was six years old, two days after giving birth to my baby brother, who also passed on 11 months later to bronchitis. Two years after her passing, my oldest brother and I moved to a bigger city and were raised by my mom’s older sister. My dad stayed in our hometown to run a business although he traveled to meet us almost every month. He never missed important moments in our lives, whether it was related to school, social activity, church, birthday, etc. You name it, he was always there. When he remarried, I was hurt. I couldn’t accept the fact that he brought another person into our relationship. I emotionally pushed him away and intentionally did things to rebel and punish him. Things I very much regretted later on in my life. He stayed single for 11 years after my mom passed because he wanted to be there for us. He waited until both my brother and I were old enough to understand that his choice to remarry was to find a companion in life, not a replacement to our mother. Rationally, I understood it. Emotionally, I didn’t.
I was fortunate to have been given the chance to mend and glue the emotional cracks back together. For that, I am greatly thankful. My dad was a faithful person to his calling as a father. He was only 36 years young when he became a single parent, owning up responsibilities to fulfill his young children’s mental, emotional, spiritual, educational, and social needs. He did his best, with the help of other family members, to fulfill his responsibilities with love and grace. I don’t recall he ever raised his hand on us. His way of teaching was through asking questions that made us, his children, think. And then supported the decision we made. For example; my brother decided to lean on social science in high school even though he was good in math. I hung on to a career that took me away from life, working long hours and burning the midnight oil. I later knew it wasn’t easy for him. Sometimes, the decisions we made were unfavorable in his eyes. As a parent, you desire your children to pursue something you foresee will not only exercise and expand their potential, but also smoother and easier path. In the process, you may unintentionally project an interest greater than what you children want. This applies not only in education, but on other choices in life as well. That can usually become the spark of conflict between parents and children. Later in life, I experienced looking at things from the point of view of an adult and was tempted to convince a young mind to see my point. That’s when my dad’s wisdom appears as a reminder. He knew how to refrain from jumping in and was masterful in disciplining his disappointment. He handled his emotion well, to let us learn the consequences of our decisions, and he was there when we went through challenges as a result. He was a wise man.
You learn and understand the calling of a parent when you become one. That’s life’s biggest teachable moment. Today, as I’m thinking of my dad, I’m holding a space of Peace, Love, and Light for those who embrace their call as a father to their own flesh and blood, and to those who step up and become a father figure to other young people. I thank you for enriching and inspiring these young minds with love, commitment, and compassion. Happy Father’s Day to you — each and every day of your life forward is a father’s day.
What valuable lesson you’ve learned from your dad? What action you didn’t realize as valuable back then but made an impact on you in a later stage in life? Share your story with us …
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