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Saturday, June 15, 2013

On Being A Dad/Papa: Random Thoughts on Father's Day

Sunday, June 16, is designated and celebrated as Father's Day. It is a day to honor all dads or fathers around the world, a day to pay tribute to the "Big Guy," "Man of the House," the "King of the Castle," "Mr. Fix-it," "Barbecue Hero," or "Master of the Remote," and other sobriquet attributed to them all.

Happy Father's Day to all of us, Dad/Daddy/Pops/Papa/Pappy/Old Man/Tatay/Tatang/Grandpa in the world! May God bless us all always!

Dad...Papa...Tatay...Tatang...the sweetest thing to hear when your first born baby comes out of this world! It is the happiest moment felt, after marriage or lengthy relationship with someone you care, love, cherish and treasure. To be called/addressed Dad or Papa is a milestone, an achievement or accomplishment in one man's life. (That's how I feel, apparently and honestly.) On the other hand, it also entails or encompasses responsibility for having contributed something to the human race. That is, whoever I sired or "procreated" or brought into this world, with my wife, of course, is my responsibility. Therefore, I have to see to it that my child (or children) is taken care of and that he or she grows up to be a law-abiding, God-fearing, respectful and understanding, and productive and responsible member of society. If I see my child/ren succeed, I feel I have succeeded being a (good) Dad or Papa to him/her/them. If he/she/they don't or didn't succeed, I feel like I failed being a Dad or Papa. That's what being a Dad or Papa means to me. But, of course, there are varied ways to define success. If I see them sad or grieving, I feel the same way, too. If they're happy and contented, I feel happy and contented, too. That's just me. Other dads or fathers may have different perspective of what it means to be a Dad or Papa. But the bottom line is Dads are as important as Moms in a child's life. Involvement in a child/ren's life is something that has taken its meaning to different heights. It's way different from our dads' days, I observe.

"Who Needs DAD?" That's the article written by Ray Paprocki that was published in AARP The Magazine on its June/July 2012 edition. I came across this article because I have been a member of the American Association of Retired People (AARP) since 2007 (although I don't have the age and look that old to be a member, huh?). And one of the benefits of being a member is receiving a copy of the AARP The Magazine monthly or so. So, having this copy of the magazine in my room, for almost a year now, I remembered about this article that I've already perused or read. But since it is Father's Day again, I have to reread it because, to me, it invites further thinking, analysis, reflection, sort of. Just the title itself (Who Needs DAD?) sounds puzzling and/or controversial that it needs further discussion. Below the title reads, "When moms have more power and kids leave the nest, a father must rethink his role." Likewise, I've heard this before: Dads are an endangered species. What's your take, my dear folks and friends, and fellow Dads?

Mr. Paprocki, a writer and editor, did write this interesting and thought-provoking article, a year ago, with research and citations from his friends, and authors like Stephanie Coontz (A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American women at the Dawn of the 1960s), Ruth Nemzoff, Ed.D. (Don't Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships With Your Adult Children), clinical psychologist, such as John Duffy, Ph.D. (The Available Parent), and Ken Canfield, Ph.D., the founder of the National Center for Fathering, at, and other publications like The New York Times and research study from the Pew Research Center.

He cites author and doctor of education Ruth Nemzoff, "We dads are still making mistakes, feeling vulnerable, struggling." He took her advice, and talked to his two adult children, he writes. I agree with Nemzoff's statement and so with Paprocki's approach---cornering one each and asked them what they expect of him as their father. In my case, I've told my two young adult children that I don't give advice to them anymore, unless they ask or solicit. That means that I respect their freedom to decide for themselves about their life, and not to interfere about their decisions/choices they make. Why? Because I'm giving them the opportunity to learn and to think independently for themselves what's best for them. After all, that's their life to live, not mine. But I'm there when they need me.

For as long as we're alive, and still able and capable of learning to become a good parent, we, dads, continue to make mistakes and learning from them. We may be seen or perceived as a role model, or a hero, in children's eyes, but we're human beings, too. (We're vulnerable, and capable to err and to forgive, and forget.) But older enough with more life experiences, I would say. Yes, we make mistakes, decisions that may not seem the right one or appropriate but, hey, we do try to do what we think is best for the family. Once we're committed to a relationship, especially if we already have a fruit or fruits of that loving relationship (our child/ren), our focused is all about the envisioned family---a good, responsible, successful family. Of course, we have insecurities and fears, too. But we don't verbalize or show it off because they may be misunderstood as a sign of weakness on our part. And, we continue to strive for what's good for the family just as we continue to grapple or struggle, and adjust, to life's changes and challenges.

Additionally, Paprocki cites a Pew Research Center report about the disproportionate number of fathers involved in their children's lives. The Pew study found that there's an increased number of children under 18 living apart from their fathers, from 11 percent in 1960 to 27 percent in 2010, and that nonresident dads spend less time with their kids. "More than one quarter of nonresident fathers of minors told Pew they had not seen their kids in the past year." As implied or pointed out in the study, one of the reasons or factors about this decline of fathers's involvement is that children were born out of wedlock. Now, we're talking about marriage, and divorce, too. Does that mean that marriage still matters? And family, too? But, of course, it does matter to an evolving, changing family and the world we live in.

On the other hand, there's this article that I just read today (shared by a Catholic blogger that I'm following, or shall I say fellow blogger?) which mentions another study (or a separate survey?) by the Pew Research Center which states that the amount of time fathers spend with their children increased from 2.5 hours a week in 1965 to seven in 2011. (It's sort of ironic or contradictory to the Pew study mentioned above by Paprocki.) Furthermore, the Pew survey indicates that during that same time, fathers more than doubled their time on housework, from four hours a week to ten. Obviously, times have changed and there's a dramatic shift, change (and/or improvement?) in parenting attitudes and roles and involvement.

Well, my dear folks and friends, I've got to end this (random) rambling about Dads, or about fathers, with these parting words or thoughts: As long as a family exists, and for as long as the world turns, I believe, we still need Dads. Dispensable, they say? Nope. They still matter in the life and nurturing of a child. Without them, humanity ceases to thrive and exist. That's my take.

Again, to all of us, Dad or Daddy, Pops or Papa, Tatay or Tatang, and/or Grandpa, around the world, Happy Father's Day! As always, I pray, "May God bless us all and keep us safe from harm always!" And to our deceased dads, fathers, fathers-in-law, and/or grandpas, may they rest in peace. Amen.-Chris A. Quilpa, 15 June 2013
Below are a number of photos of memorable moments I have had as a young Dad to my two amazing and awesome children, Andrew and Christine...How time flies! If we could turn back time...Enjoy!

                                          Photos (c) 2013 by Chris A. Quilpa

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