Friday, June 29, 2012

Best Dad/Parent You Can Be

Written by, Bernadyn Nettles
After celebrating Father's Day last weekend, it had me thinking about the dads in my children's dad (my hubby) and my own father.  They say daughters sometimes are drawn toward men who are similar to their dads.  I didn't see any real similarities between them before but lately I do see some things in my hubby that reflect my father's personality. hubby may not want to hear that.  

Father's Day, Parengting, Daughters

My father and I weren't super close when I was growing up.  He raised me all my childhood along side my mom but we didn't have a relationship that other daughters would envy. There wasn't anything extra special about it and I was okay with that and am okay with that now.  

I found it difficult to turn to my dad when it came to personal issues just like many daughters do, especially if you have a mom or strong female figure in your life.  It's just easier to have "girl talk" with another girl.  Sorry, Dad. I'm sure, too, that my dad found it hard to have conversations with me about girly stuff.

My dad would have listened and talked to me, most likely, if I did go to him and if I asked him for advice, I know he would have given me some. (He gave me advice usually anyways, even when it was unwanted). We had arguments and he sure knew how to get on my nerves! Likewise, I'm sure I got on his nerves. He could be a cranky, insensitive man at times.

Disagreements between father and daughter have already started with these two:

POW! Right in Daddy's chin...Lyla B. said, "Daddy, you get on my nerves! Let me drive already!" 

Daddy can't punch her back so he violently...I mean, gently shakes her..."You're too young to drive and you get on my nerves, too, lil missy!"

But alas...daughters get the last punch! Poor Daddy!  She's got a mean right hook!

My mom told me that my dad didn't always used to be a cranky man but that he was tired from work and sleep deprived, which caused his short temper.  I know I didn't see it as an excuse back then to snap at your kids but now as a parent, I totally understand how you can quickly lose your patience with your children, be mean and just have a negative attitude when you normally would not, particularly if you are running on limited fuel from lack of z's.

I can finally say that I can relate to my dad.  Did I just say that?!  I never thought in a million years those words would come out of my mouth!

Father's Day, Daughters, Parenting

My mom used to warn me: "Just wait until you have your own kids and you'll see how we feel, how it feels to be a parent."  My teen me probably said, "Whatever, Mom."  I'm sure I rolled my eyes while saying this.

You say you'll never do this or that when you disagreed with your parents and thought they treated you unfairly but the truth is you don't know until you do become a parent.  I can now say after having kids of my own...I understand, I feel your pain!  

Having children opened up my eyes to everything my father tried to do for my family.  It may not have been the text book way or the best way according to others' standards but for him it was the best way he knew how to be a parent.  That's the important thing I need to remember: that he wanted to be a parent no matter what we thought of him, how angry we got at him and how many times we rolled our eyes at him.  I'm thankful now that at least he wasn't on drugs, an alcoholic, a shopaholic (he didn't run us into debt trying to buy a new sports car) nor was he a cheater (he didn't run out on my mom and us kids chasing skirts).

Something else that I'm grateful about is that my dad consistently spoke to us in both English and Tagalog, the Filipino language.  He speaks both languages fluently but he mostly spoke to us in Tagalog at home and so now, although I can't speak it fluently, I can at least understand it.

That's a great gift and I would love it if he could pass that on to my kids and I'm inspired to re-learn it to pass it on to them, too.  We live in a world now where speaking many languages is beneficial to our children and their future so it's awesome if they can learn first hand at home.  It also comes in handy when you're scolding at your kids in public...hmm...maybe that's why my dad insisted on us learning Tagalog!

I also appreciate that at the really important times in my life my dad was there to support me at all my school events, church events, graduations and wedding...  

I will never forget what my dad asked me at such an important time in my wedding day.  When all was said and done -- and I was married -- he asked if I was happy.  

Parenting, Father's Day, Daughters

I think he was the only one who even thought to ask how I felt that day in a genuine, real caring way.  I was surprised he asked that but it gave me some clarity:  My father tried hard to be a good parent.  He knew that it's a parent's job (no matter the children's age) to be concerned about his children's happiness and well-being; that parents are there to raise their kids in hopes they will grow to be happy adults who will live a fulfilled life to their fullest potential.  At least in my perspective that's what parenting is all about, along with being a good example so children will also grow to be good citizens in our society.

My husband and I have two children and one of them is a girl.  I know he is anxious and a bit nervous about raising her.  He didn't even have a sister so this is new territory for him but I think plenty of fathers with daughters for the first time feel that way...and maybe even the second and third time!

As long as my hubby and I both remember that kids require patience and that we aim to be supportive parents even if we may want to disown them one day (ha! Just kidding, of course), then we can follow behind my dad's footsteps to make family a priority.  I know my husband intends on doing just that.  

Even when parents don't stay together, I believe children should not be neglected and a supportive father in a child's life is just as essential as the mother.  Sometimes in our society it seems as though the responsibility of caring for the kids when parents aren't together is expected more from mothers as if it is more of her burden to completely adjust her life to the children's needs. In my opinion, a father needs to be in their children's lives to help provide positive, productive parenting.

I was a smart-alec at times as a kid and would talk back to my dad when he would tell me to do something that I know he himself didn't do.  Whenever that would happen, my dad would say, "Do as I say, not as I do."  I used to hate when he would say that...probably rolled my eyes on that one, too!  

My dad was probably trying to tell me in so little words that he was wiser, he learned from his experiences and mistakes so he just wanted my siblings and me to aspire to be better than him.  I feel exactly the same way.  Every generation should be better than the next.  I know that's what my husband and I want for our kids.  After all, children are our future and who wouldn't want to see positive, productive citizens contributing to our future, to a better future?  

All these thoughts of my dad raising me flooded in after having a made me think of what kind of dad my hubby will be for my daughter.  My dad was responsible and put us as a priority above himself.  That's exactly the kind of man I want my husband to be for our kids.  A man who puts his family first.  I'm not saying forsake your own happiness all for your kids but I believe that as parents we need to remember that children didn't ask to be brought into this world. We CHOSE THAT FOR THEM so it is our job to be the best parent we can be, to be there 100% for them, to be a real parent and that's what I believe my dad did for us and the kind of father my husband will be for our children, too.  

They both deserved a Happy Father's Day!  

Lyla driving away in the getaway car...she won the battle this time...she said,
"Until we meet again, Daddy...hahaha!"
*Evil baby giggles*

Check out our Father's Day trip: Beautiful Father's Day in St. Auggie

Until next time,