Dad of two Raymond Maribojoc shares the most important life lessons he wants his daughters to learn
Being a father, or a parent for that matter, changes you fundamentally. Some of the biggest realizations from being thrust into the role of primary caregiver of a fragile little screaming human being are A. the sheer amount of Stuff You Don’t Know, and B. You Have No Idea What You’re Doing.
So in parenting, like much of life, you learn what you can, pick up wisdom where you can find it, and make stuff up as you go along. And you hope that at the end of it you achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a parent: that your child will turn out better than yourself.
So Ada and Thea, my toddlers, my daughters, my heart, eaters of chocolate, milk tea thieves, and mess makers of the highest degree, I present to you some life lessons that your old man has learned, and would like to pass on:
To animals, and people, and yourself. One of the most important life skills you can have is empathy. Empathy is the answer to all the world’s ills, makes you a great friend, teaches you to care. Empathy puts you in a position to help.
Learn to fix things yourself. Your mother and I had dates at hardware stores.
The right time to do something is Your Own Time.
Life isn’t a series of milestones you have to hit. You don’t *have* to be a successful [insert career here] by 25, or married by 28 (if at all), with kids by 30. Don’t compare yourself to others’ milestones– move at the pace that works for you.
Learn, wish, plan, act, and hope.
On the other hand, plan what you can. Set goals for yourself, and come up with a list of Things to Do to Get There. A related dad joke: a desperate man prayed, “God, have You forsaken me? I’ve given everything up: my money, my career, my worldly ambitions. I’ve donated to charity, volunteered to help the needy. All I ask is that You help me to win the lottery tonight.” With a blinding flash, God appears and says to the man: “Dude, meet me halfway here. At least buy a ticket. “
Wishing for something is only a small part of it, but everything else hinges on you planning and doing what needs to be done every day to be a little closer to your goals.
On the other other hand, a quote from John Lennon: “Life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans.” Things won’t always work out– in fact, they often won’t. Don’t panic (okay, panic just a little), but roll with it. Failure is a part of the process. It doesn’t reflect badly on yourself, but not learning from it does.
Lots of them. They are precious little moments to recharge and reorient yourself. And if you have kids of your own, you’ll miss naps very, very much.
Your feelings are valid, but your reactions to them matter.
You can be angry, or sad, or hurt, but that doesn’t justify reacting out of proportion. Let the feeling wash through you and over you, address the feeling (hugs help) then act on the situation with measured action.
Take time to be silly.
Make up songs, appreciate the absurd, laugh at yourself. Talk to each other in funny voices. Finding the humorous side to a situation helps to put things in perspective.
When life gets a little overwhelming, it’s OK to take a break.
Drink some hot chocolate, read a book, take a nap, ask for a hug.
Don’t take anything at face value, and learn what you can about it before coming up with an informed opinion. And no, “I watched a video about it on Facebook” doesn’t count as doing your research.
On the other hand, listen to the experts. Someone always knows more than you do. Listen, weigh the facts. And always be aware that you or the experts could still be wrong.
Follow the recipe first.
Cherish your relationships.
Some of the best experiences you’ll ever have are shared with others, whether it’s a romantic relationship or a best friend or a group of people who share your values. They can enrich your life and take you on unexpected journeys that end with you being the better for it.
But also don’t be afraid of solitude. Life-changing moments can happen while you’re on your own. Whether it’s eating alone, seeing a movie alone, or being alone in an unpopular opinion if you know you’re right. Being comfortable with your thoughts encourages introspection. Being alone in your opinion, given you’ve nurtured it carefully, and watered it from the wells of knowledge and experience, means you’re willing to fight for what you believe is right.
Listen to all the stories.
Stories are the best way to learn about others and yourself and the world. Read books, watch TV and movies, play video games, ask your grandparents questions.
Consume fiction and non-fiction. Jack brought down a giant, Helen Keller was an author and activist who was blind and deaf from birth, your great-grandfather was a US soldier stationed in Okinawa. Napoleon learned that you don’t mess with a land war in Russia, the Philippines was colonized for more than 300 years, Van Gogh was a great artist, Janeway found her way home. Stories, whether real or imagined, help explain who we are and what we could be.
Years from now, my daughters will have learned life lessons of their own, taken a few hits that left their own scars. Maybe they’ll find their father’s advice useful, or maybe not. Maybe they’ll realize that Daddy didn’t have everything figured out, and he was just learning from day to day, just like they were.
But the most important lesson I hope they will always remember, that I hope will be the lens through which they view everything I ever do and say: that your daddy loves you, very much.
Raymond Maribojoc is a husband, father of two toddler daughters, and a digital marketer. He runs a Facebook community called Daddy Issues PH.