“All I do, at the end of the day, is for the family.”
“All I do, at the end of the day, is for the family.
” This is how Mark St Hill, Managing Director, Retail and Business Banking of CIBC FirstCaribbean, sums up his role as a dad.
St Hill is father to 20-year-old Stuart, Melissa, 17, and nine-year-old Matthew, whom, together with his wife Simone, he is working hard to raise into well-grounded and respectful adults.
He is dedicated to his banking career, but St Hill says his time with his children belongs only to them.
“When I do shut off and I’m with them, I don’t discuss [work]. My children don’t know the extent of what I do.
They just know that Daddy goes to work and tries to do a great job.
“What I do show them out of what I do are some ethical principles and some professional principles. So I show them I don’t miss work unless I am very, very ill.
I am very punctual even outside of work, even for family functions. And I think they see, when they enter these halls of my job, they realize that I am friendly, I am polite to people,” he said.
When Stuart was born, St Hill realized, like all first-time parents, that some changes needed to be made.
“One of the things that happened when Stuart was a little one, I got transferred to Grenada. And I was there for four months, coming back to and from home.
And one of the things that struck me was even though he was only one and a half to two years old, you could tell it was affecting him.
And at that point I realized ‘You know what? You have to make decisions for kids and for family’. “So one of the principles I have is that unless I am travelling – and I do travel a lot – if my children go to sleep at night in my house, I am in that house. They don’t have to know that by the time they went to sleep Daddy wasn’t home.”
He credits his late father for laying the foundation for his own role as a parent.“My father was very straightforward and very proud of his children.
And proud doesn’t mean he pushed us to be better than other kids; whatever we did he was proud of us, and he always stood for clear values. One of the things was treating people with respect and honesty.
I remember one time I gave my sister something and we quarrelled and I decided to take it back. He got really annoyed over that. He said ‘if you give somebody something it’s done.
You can’t, because you fall out, take it back.’ He stood for principles,” St Hill recalled. Another important thing for him is to ensure that his children are aware of the respect he has for his wife.
“There’s no hierarchy between me and my wife, we are equals in this. I think they see that…they see that respect and they see that genuine love in the family. And whatever they do, we show them that we support them and we are proud.”
But for St Hill, being a father is not all about imparting knowledge to his offspring; they have also taught him several lessons. “Stuart has taught me not to force fit your children.
You can guide them but you have to allow them to find their way. Stuart, when he went into sixth form, came home five weeks after the term started with a note from the Art teacher saying ‘we will accept Stuart to switch to Art’. And this was a young lad that never did art since third form.
So, old-fashioned me was like ‘what is going on here?’ “Long and short of the story is, it came home very clearly that Stuart is artistic. Stuart, whilst he is at university doing business, because he has not gotten into the programme he really wanted, he is designing a clothing brand on the side; every now and then he paints; he’s a phenomenal photographer.
And that has taught me…you have to allow your children to flourish in what they are good at.”
His daughter Melissa has already demonstrated her ability to balance academics and extracurricular activities. “I don’t know how she does it. She’s good at academics and she dances five days a week. Even during these CAPE exams, she is dancing. She had two exams [Monday] and Sunday she danced the entire day. She has a toughness about her, knowing what she has to say and knowing what she has to do. I’m proud of that but I’m also hoping that stands her in good stead,” he said.
A common complaint among parents is the amount of time their children spend on electronics, And it’s no different with St Hill’s last-born, Matthew.
However, St Hill describes him as “a highly perceptive kid”. “I believe that out of the three of them Matthew is going to be the most street smart. And I think that’s very important growing up. And by street smart I don’t mean hustling, but just being aware and perceptive. I think he quietly takes in everything Stuart, Melissa, me, Simone, do…Quite frankly, he reminds me of me at times.”
There is no doubt that St Hill is proud of his children, but he credits their grandparents for assisting him and his wife in raising them.
He admitted he doesn’t make a big deal out of Father’s Day, but he will allow his wife and kids to pamper him for the day.
“There’s a little ritual that I know that Mummy would want them to get up and give me some breakfast in bed so I keep myself quiet… and be pampered.
“Father’s Day for me is every year I look at them and say: OK.’ Job well done, or job not so well done?” Overall, he said, children need to know that they are loved and are special. “And don’t compare them to other kids. They are who they are,” he said.
by Marie-Claire Williams
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