18 June 2019

Fathers Day in Philippines

Fathers Day

Just celebrated Fathers Day here in Philippines, as I have for the 10th time in a row.

I believe in Australia this year it will be celebrated in September, yet 16 June here. No idea how it works. It took me a few years to get used to this. Now? I have no kids in Australia, so seems little point in insisting on an Aussie date. The difference makes more sense that the Queen's Birthday though. I believe Prince Chuckles during his youthful sabbatical in Australia asked what the holiday was, and was amused to hear that it was what Australians called "the Queen's Birthday". I think it may even differ between states!

Off thing in the Philippines is that you get "Happy Fathers Day" greetings from everyone! Yet in Australia it's only your kids who will greet you, and I don't know how to respond when elderly aunties say that to me. It's the same as when someone says "Let's eat!"

But back to more important things......fathers, and why we matter.

Fathers Day in Philippines, and what it means to be a father

Being a father - What does it mean?

I first became a father in 1988. Yes, I'm old. But I also became a father at 22 years old, which makes me probably a little younger than the mental equation you made.

I had two sons biologically via first marriage. My eldest son Greg (RIP) was tragically taken from us in 2011. Car crash. I already hated Holden Commodores and Australian car-culture before then, and this tragedy only cemented that feeling more. But youngest son Jeremy (c.1992) is alive and well, and has a fine beard like his dad and also impeccable taste in women just like me, ie he also married a Filipina lady.
  • So, two biological sons;
  • One buy-one-take-one daughter (wife Mila was a single mum);
  • Seven nieces who live here fulltime and call me Daddy;
  • One granddaughter who lives here;
  • Four more who call me Dad who are harder to categorise;

So what does being a father mean to Jeff Harvie?  To me....coupled with being a husband....I would say the most fulfilling thing a man can do and can aspire to be. And it's a sacrificial, unconditional love that makes the father in you. You love those who love you in return and you love those who do NOT necessarily love you in return. You love them regardless, and you do so because you believe that they are deserving of love as every human being is deserving of love.

And as a father, your role is to give support, protection, guidance and correction to those who need this from you. Biological kids? Of course! Those whom you did not physically/biological father? Do they NEED you? Do they NEED fathering, because of absent biological fathers (physical distance or emotional distance)? Do you have the skills and willingness to be a dad to them? If so, then yes you should do it.

How to be a dad?

For myself? It just happened all of a sudden 31 years ago! I would like to think that instincts just took over, so hard to think of. Let's see.....

1. Want them to love you? Love them first! That's something I frequently tell clients. Mostly they will love you in return. But it should always start from you, and should start from a deeply-held belief that you MUST love them. Anything less should be totally unacceptable to you.

2. Be a dad to them! They have plenty of school mates. They have siblings. This is a different relationship. Don't let them call you by your first name. Don't be "Steve" to them, or even "Uncle Steve". And if in the Philippines, don't let anyone try to get the kids to call you "Daddy Steve", as it downgrades your role. I get "Daddy Jeff" from some of the relatives who don't get it, and I really dislike it because it's a bit like "Uncle".

3. Be strong and consistent and decisive. Being a wuss who wants to have conferences and democratic voting with small children? They will gain nothing at all. They need guidance and they need boundaries.

4. Make sure that you and your wife/fiancee/partner work as a team. If you undermine each other, kids will soon work out how to play the two of you off against each other. Support each other and back each other up. If you meet a lady who wants you to not get involved in the upbringing of "her kids"? I think I would go so far as to say you should move on! It will be a bad relationship.

5. And never have favourites! This is a common scenario here in Philippines, even in 100% biological families. Awful! No child should be more important or more loved than any other, and that includes your own biological kids. Kids KNOW when they are the less-important child, and it can scar them for life! ALL are deserving of love simply because they are human and they breathe the same air as you. You deserved it as a child, and hopefully you received it. Whether you did or not? It's time to give it back.

6. Remember that the love is for YOU to give, and that love should be unconditional. Agape in Ancient Greek. Given with no expectation of anything in return. And that includes (see #5 above) where you feel you should love the smart kid, the pretty kid or the kid who is very sweet to you somehow more than the less-appealing child who argues with you all day. All the same!

A bit of wisdom from Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet) below:

On Children

 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, 
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.


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