There are few things that I am as proud about as being my father’s son. When I was a child, Daddy seemed like a giant who had all knowledge and limitless strength, and I generally obeyed him out of a fear of the consequences of disobedience, and an obligation to God. Following adolescence, I did so out of a deep gratitude and love.
Daddy took his role as a father quite seriously as he guided, supported, encouraged, and disciplined his four children during their formative years and beyond. It was a demonstration of love that cannot be adequately described with mere words, but I shall make an attempt.
Our home was a safe environment where external stresses were unknown. I never saw my parents arguing, and although they undoubtedly had disagreements, the typical marital and financial stresses of young couples were never transferred to us. The only stresses that we experienced resulted from facing the consequences of mischief, peer pressure, and homework.
Daddy is blessed with an abundance of wisdom, and an ability to understand apparently any subject, with a common-sense approach to using the knowledge attained. If he had the time, I am certain that he could conquer any field of learning.
Every area that he encouraged me in as a youth, I pursued and attained some measure of achievement, be it music, engineering, religion, or writing. Strangely enough, those areas where he did not actively encourage me, I did not actively pursue, like sports. Perhaps parental encouragement is a significant factor in determining what children will later pursue.
During our adolescence, our parents’ prior guidance and inculcation of values saw us through that turbulent time. Their persistent efforts were not appreciated much then, but they certainly are now.
Teenagers are generally too distracted with the present activities to concentrate on behavioural consequences or planning for the future. It is therefore vitally important that teenagers listen to parental advice even though they may not want to since some mistakes made during adolescence can carry life-changing consequences.
Daddy explained sex and things related to each of us when we were old enough, and would warn us about being negatively influenced by our friends. Friends who are rebellious or who find life boring can pursue activities that may initially seem like fun, but which can easily lead to a lifestyle of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, and crime.
I have seen many influential teenagers persuade their naïve friends to indulge in irresponsible behaviours. The influential teenagers would later turn back to pursue their own educational goals and careers. However, some of their friends were often unable to find their way back and were left behind with so much unrealized potential. The influential teenagers did not appear to lead their friends down a path of destruction out of spite. They were simply inexperienced and ignorant youth who used their natural leadership qualities irresponsibly, to the emotional and moral detriment of their friends.
Daddy encouraged us to remain focused on our educational goals, and not to be distracted by prematurely engaging in activism. He acknowledged that there were many problems and injustices in the world, but advised that an education could assist with designing and articulating solutions.
Daddy prepared us to leave the security of the nest and face the challenges of life, and when we inevitably struggled, he always had timely words of encouragement. He encouraged us to never give up, regardless of any disappointments in life. He is always willing to share his wisdom, answer any questions and provide his opinion, and whenever I follow his advice, I benefit.
Today is Daddy’s 80th birthday, and he is still the giant that I knew in my youth. I cannot properly express the love, gratitude, and admiration that I feel for him, but I have sought to live by his values of: helping the less fortunate, befriending the stranger, encouraging the despondent, guiding the wanderer, knowing God, never compromising personal integrity regardless of the price offered, and pursuing excellence even when there is no reward. If I can transfer such values to my son, then I think that I would have done at least half as well as Daddy.
Look Daddy – we’re flying!
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at [email protected]