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DO DADS MATTER?

17 June 2019 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post

Weddings
are both endings and beginnings. When my son Vincent got married, it meant a
lot of things for our family.

Vincent
began his new role in life. And he said goodbye to the role that life thrust
upon him.

15
years ago, I made the toughest choice in my life – to walk away from my
marriage. That day redefined my role and the lives of my four sons. I became a
solo mom and my kids fatherless.

Overnight,
my sons Vincent and Mark, had to grow up to lead the family with me. At the age
of 15, Vincent became “Dad” to his brothers.

It
was not easy. In the Philippines, single moms like me do not enjoy the
protection of the law. There is no divorce, hence no child support. And the
struggles are real.

This
is probably why the Philippines is a matriarchal society. The oppressive laws
on annulment and legal separation leaves women in failed marriages to fend for
their families.

 It was a turning point in our lives. In the
absence of legal resources and support, single moms should make smart choices.

  1. Choose to forgive. The
    best thing I did for my kids was to forgive their father. This meant I did not
    bad mouth him.  I did the opposite – I
    reminded them of his good qualities. I told them that hating him is like hating
    half of themselves.
  2. Choose
    role models for them. The absence of a father creates a vacuum that must be
    filled. I made sure they had sports coaches, good men in our church and my
    successful male clients around them. My sons should know what a good man looks like.
  3. Choose not to struggle
    playing the role of mom and dad. Just be the best mom.

For
many years, I had to go to school meetings, graduations and my sons’ milestones
on my own. The seat beside me was always vacant.

I
asked myself – Do dads matter?

“Dad”
was a word spoken in fear, anger or bitterness in our home.  “Dad” was synonymous to – harsh and unkind.
Father’s Day was a day that was dreaded and mocked.  

So,
when I came home from America with Dave, their new stepdad and my stepdaughter
Ivy, it was a new experience for all of us.

Dave
was impressed by the respect that my kids showed me and him. I told him, it’s a
very polite culture.

He was
surprised that my grown up sons still take my advice and value my opinion. He
realized that being a “Filipino dad” is a little different.

I
realized that Dads bring a different flavor to the family. 

While
I focused on safety and well-being, Dave encourages risk. He uses humor to cope
with issues- I think things through.

My sons learned
that a father brings many different things. He is a playmate and a protector.
He is a provider of solutions.

Dave
slid into the role comfortably. Suddenly, there was this loud booming voice at
home. Not harsh, not scary- but full of laughter.  

Our
vacations changed. Dave wants more playtime. We went surfing in La Union,
horseback riding in Taal, snorkeling in Coron.

Finally,
my sons had a Dad.

On
our way to Vincent’s pamanhikan, the conversation in our car was happy, full
of laughter. There’s more “boys only” jokes.

We
were going to formally ask for the hand of Jaz, my daughter in law. There was a
sense of completeness we haven’t felt in years.

While
our legal system is largely patterned after America’s, there are still so many
things lacking like personal injury laws that protects people in accidents and
divorce is still controversial.

It
is not for me to judge the moral aspects of this topic, but shouldn’t the safety
and well-being of each individual in a family (especially the children) be more
important than our attempt to demonize all cases of divorce. America’s divorce
law has given my kids that chance to experience a complete family.

Vincent
had a father who walked with him on his wedding.

He
had a father who came home to welcome his first born and to celebrate his own
fatherhood with him.

Slowly,
Dave is building memories with his “sons”.

Fatherhood is not only by
blood.  When Dave married me, it was a
decision to accept the role of parenthood to my sons – legally and morally.

Vincent’s
wedding was the official changing of guards. He turned over the role of my
partner and protector to Dave. And Dave stood proud beside me as we gave away
our son. It was a happy day. The seat beside me was no longer vacant.

LEAH DUDGEON is the Client Relationship Manager
of GULDJIAN FASEL LAW Car Accident Attorneys. 
If you’ve been in a car accident and need help, tawag lang po kayo
(714)5198214.

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