I feel the need to reiterate in the minds of our teenagers that our parents, too, were once like us. And even possibly still, like us — children with childish tendencies. If we perceive them as little kids trapped in adult’s body while keeping it all up together in fulfilling their roles, I think we would appreciate their effort more than we do now. We have to instill in us understanding, as much as we the young ones demand it from them. I’m sure, silently, they too want it from us.
Take it from my father — a sturdy man with soft child heart.
My papa was always a tough guy. I was never bullied back then at grade school for the same reason. Some of his friends would call him “General” as in a commander in the army, not because he’s in the army but because he’s tough. He would walk the streets of the city and recognize the rogues and miscreants as he himself can mingle with these types. But don’t get that wrong, my father is a law-abiding citizen and devotedly, a follower of God, a minister of the Church. The only thing that had him on the pitiful side was his childhood trauma.
He was regarded as the black sheep of the family. He would call himself, in Tagalog, “Hari ng Sablay” (literally translates to King of Failure, referring to people who are considered dumb and clumsy) as he thinks he doesn’t get things right, and that led him to considerable amount of troubles. At an early age, he was quite severely beaten up by his parents for this exact reason. A lot more than they did to the rest of his siblings. But he doesn’t hate his parents for this, it was pretty much the normal thing back then, a tradition of disciplining problematic kids. It did correct his wrong ways but we can’t deny the bad effects from that course of action. Thus he vowed to never do that to his future children, to break the cycle. He would rather talk them out from their mischievous ways.
Truly, this problematic kid grown up to be a kind father of two. A teacher of profession and dispenser of wisdom for us. Before me and my brother came into the world, it was not like this. That problematic kid became a troublesome teenager as he made bonds with male city dwellers of his age. But when the responsibilty of being a father came to him, he asked his God to shape him into a good one. He broke his ties to pretty much everything that consist the rest of him — friendships with particular people, his troublesome ways, smoke addiction, his bad temper — all of it, just for us.
But recently, things gotten into shambles. He felt that everything is dragging him down once more to the pits of those old bad ways. The years of persistent transformation, from a tough man to a man almost always seen at Church, he feels it gotten into waste as the turn of events that led to worldly opinions of people around us discourage him. He feels that being bad is a lot easier than being good, it was all so simple with those old ways. He opened up to me and directly said that he’s giving up. He can’t fake good anymore. He says he was born to be bad, and it’s easier that way.
I was irritated. He is being irrational and childish. Why give up now? Why would you let a single event strip you from the thing you’ve been relentlessly creating for yourself and us? Why would you let the judgement of people that don’t even matter in the first place prevent you from living a good life?
But I repressed the anger for a moment and meditated. My father had always been a good communicator and because of that I know every essential bits of him. I learned he has a damage in mental health over the years of emotional oppression. That’s also why a good communication between a parent and child is really important. In addition, I realized from hearing his woes that the mental well-being of men should be regarded as an urgent issue in need of effective respondence, as it’s true and fragile, contrary to how tough they appear on the outside as the stigma of not being masculine enough presses the life of them. So I tried to put things into perspective. And hey, Papa is still the kid who cried when beaten up for buying candies. Papa is still the man who cried in the corner alone, when he thought no one in his family understood him.
My Papa is vulnerable, and so is the rest of the fathers in the world. Sometimes, we have to understand them. We have to talk to them and offer our affection and sympathy by simply being all ears to their woes. I decided to find a picture of them being a kid, in their innocent days — to remind me that they were indeed children somehow pressured to be adults. And as much as we want our parents to be mature, we have to be selfless for a while. Every time they acted like this, think of the time when you just can’t function well and the chaos just won’t let you handle things easily. Much as they are our guides, they need guidance too. Within our power, we should guide them back on track. This parent-child relationship is God’s blessing, and responsibility that both had to attend to. This bond is made to hold each other in happiness and in sadness, for better and for worse.