Reflections on the Symposium on Fatherhood
By: Chris Carandang
Photos c/o Frances Guevara
Last February 27, 2016, I had the privilege of being assigned as moderator to the symposium on Fatherhood during MLAC Institute’s Parenting Academy 2. What made this symposium so special was that we were able to invite 3 speakers who represented fathers from 3 different generations.
The first speaker was Datu Arellano, a young father of three young boys. Aside from being a father, Datu is also an artist, musician, and teacher. He emphasized how, as a father, he saw every moment as a learning opportunity for his kids. He also shared how the best way to teach values to his children is by modeling it to them and not just by telling them what to do or not to do. He shared how it was more effective for him to practice patience with his children rather than trying to teach patience to them.
The second speaker was Sir Jonny Salvador, a teacher and counselor, and the current (and first lay) headmaster of the Ateneo grade school. He shared how being a father to his two very different college boys taught him how to value their uniqueness as individuals. He ended his talk with a very poignant quote from singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, saying that, “He who is not busy being born is busy dying.”
The third speaker was Sir Jojo Sumpaico, who along with his wife Ma’am Ditsy, has helped a lot of couples prepare for marriage through Discovery Weekend sessions since 1978. Sir Jojo is a father to four successful adult children and grandfather to six (soon to be seven) grandchildren. He gave some very helpful tips to distinguish his two different roles as father and grandfather. His sharing also showed the importance of his relationship and strong bond with his wife and how having a very happy marital relationship also affects the whole family.
What struck me most was how all three fathers were very humble and open. All of them valued respecting and knowing how to listen to their children. They saw fatherhood as an ever-evolving process in which the father continuously learns from his children. They also emphasized how it truly takes a whole community to raise a child.
As a new father (my wife Olive just recently gave birth to our first child this February 5), who is still gradually adjusting to the joys and challenges of parenthood, it was very inspiring for me to listen to the very personal stories of each father. It is common knowledge how important the role of the mother is in raising a child, but through the speakers’ stories, I saw how truly important and crucial the role of a father is too.
As a psychologist who handles children and talks to parents, it was also humbling for me to see that it’s not just knowledge and education that makes a good parent. To be a good father and parent, one must first be an honest and authentic person with genuine compassion and desire to raise children to become good and upstanding citizens of the world. In the end, I saw even more clearly and concretely how, as my mother Dr.Honey Carandang would always say, “Parenting is Nation-building.”