As my family gathered during Christmas to celebrate my parents’ 80th birthdays, I suddenly realized how close I was to having quite a different life, had my dad not persevered on my behalf.
Like many teenagers, I was too lazy and didn’t care much about what really mattered. I was more interested in “fun” things and living in the moment. University and future plans were the last things on my mind.
My father, though disappointed in my behaviour, was persistent and never gave up on me. In spite of my rebellious attitude, laziness and foolishness, he never uttered any condemning words such as “You are such a failure!” or “Why can’t you be more like your cousin?” or “You’re going to end up a useless bum!”
I think I may have given up on such a son, but I’m sure glad my dad didn’t give up on his. He didn’t allow my seemingly hopeless situation to define me. He saw a brighter future and did everything he could to push me over the hump.
I wonder how my life would have turned out if my dad DIDN’T pull me through during those foolish teenage years.
During our Christmas vacation, my second son found out that the notorious neighbourhood bully he once feared is now serving a 34-year sentence in jail.
When John the bully was about 10 years old, he would often show up at the playground near our house and terrorize all the kids. On one occasion, John came to the playground with a knife and threatened my daughter. I went over to his house to talk to his dad about the incident. Instead of disciplining his son, his dad defended John’s actions. On another occasion, John was caught reading an adult magazine in class. When notified by the school principal, his dad just shrugged it off as “no big deal”.
I wonder how John’s life would have turned out if his dad DID provide him with the necessary guidance.
As I reflect on my own role as a father, I know which kind I want to be. I want to be the dad who does what is right and what is best for my children even when they don’t appreciate it. I want to be the dad who refuses to give up on his teenagers no matter how hopeless things may seem. And I want to be the dad who is willing to confront moral and character issues even when I’m dead-tired after a long day at work.
I’m sure my children find me irritating at times, but someday they will understand like I did. Someday they will appreciate that I chose first to be their dad instead of their best friend. Perhaps then we can become best friends.
Note from the editor [Our guest blogger this week is Too Teh Hsin, husband to a Focus on the Family Singapore staff and proud parent of 3 children, ages 23, 18 and 14. Born in Taipei, he lived in the US for 25 years before making Singapore his home a decade ago. He enjoys movies, music, reading and running – after food or just for the love of it!