By Denice Sy
“When Jake grows up, what do you want him to be known for?” My husband, Jacob, asked me as we were putting our seven-month-old baby to sleep one night. I cogitated about his question long and hard, because as Jake’s mom, and like any parent, I want my son to do so many things. From excelling in academics, to being good in sports, to developing proficiency in a musical instrument, I want Jake to achieve so much of what I wish I had done better at an early age.
As a full-time working mom, I imagined what my role would be in his process of maturation. How much time should I put into tutoring him after coming home from a full day’s work? Do I enroll him in basketball clinics? What should I do to ensure he succeeds in my aspirations for him? These won’t happen within the next two years, but I’m already thinking about them.
However, as I pondered further…Are these really the most important milestones I want him to accomplish in his lifetime? Because come to think of it, if he does shy away from my goals for him and decides to pursue something else entirely, I should be okay with it. Actually, I would even support him fully in his chosen endeavors, for as long as he does not step on other people along the way. That’s when it dawned on me that if everything was stripped away, Jake’s values as a person is what matters to me most.
I answered Jacob, “When people hear about Jake, I want them to be able to say that Jake is a good and genuine person. A true friend who is inclusive of others and treats all people with respect. A man of integrity who is wise with his words, and keeps them. A humble human being who knows how to admit mistakes and learns from them.” These things are not taught in school, rather these values are formed at home.
This is a challenge that all parents face as the first teachers of our children. In the next few months, I will need to be more intentional in setting a good example for Jake as he becomes more observant of my actions and choices of words.
As we celebrate Teacher’s Day this month, let us recognize the teachers by profession who educate our kids in school, but also acknowledge the first educators of the next generation who carry the responsibility of raising kind and altruistic members of society.
Here are some words of wisdom from today’s modern working moms in relation to their role as their kids’ first teachers:
Know your priorities
Working in public office is no easy feat, so one can just wonder how Department of Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar manages her time as a hands-on mom with a full-time career. However, for Emmeline, balancing both is not so difficult.
She shares that “being a teacher is something that is not really balanced with government work—it is something that underlies it.” According to Emmeline, when she is at home, she focuses on her three-year-old Emma completely and only attends to her work once she has put Emma to sleep.
Priorities are clear for Emmeline. She makes an effort to show through her own example the most important values that she tries to inculcate in Emma. These include “doing to others what you want them to do unto you,” valuing others by acting with kindness and understanding, loving God above all, doing what is right and to relinquish entitlement for anything she did not work hard for.
Her final advice to parents is to really “just love your children the best way you can. That is enough. You are more than enough for them.” No two parents are the same, so she encourages parents to learn from the experiences of others, but to not compare or beat themselves up when mistakes are made.
Be a good role model
The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” strongly applies to actress and entrepreneur Ara Mina. She acknowledges having a strong support group in helping her achieve her accomplishments in showbiz, business ventures (her Ara’s Secret is going on its sixth year, and she recently launched her very own Ara Colours cosmetics line in collaboration with Ever Bilena), and motherhood. Her busy schedule is packed, but what’s important is that she makes time for her four-year-old Amanda, who she fondly calls “Mandy.”
For Ara Mina, modelling by example is the key in enabling Mandy to learn life lessons. One such practice that Ara truly wants Mandy to emulate is treating others with compassion. Ara tries to form this virtue in Mandy through her relationships with others, especially towards family members and her employees.
Share real-life lessons
Businesswoman Belle Brillantes is not your typical mother. Being the mom to four kids, Nina, 25, Kayla, 20, Kismet, 19, and Andrea “Blythe” Brillantes. 16, as the youngest of her four children, her number one rule is that “there are no secrets allowed!”
She instills true life lessons to her children because she understands how teenagers can be like when there are too many rules imposed. Hence, the most realistic teaching she imparts to them is to value their education. Because for Belle, “education is not a privilege, but an obligation to oneself.”
She applies this “real talk” to her son, Kismet, once when he was being lazy in school. She gave him the option of dropping out anytime but presented the consequences to him. “You can be Blythe’s driver if you need a job, or finish school and become somebody more than [that].” Evidently after hearing that response from his mom, he returned to school.
Her parenting style resonates with the quote “Love is like a bird, hold it too tightly it will die, hold it loosely it will fly, but if you’re kind and allow it to rest in your hand (and heart) it will stay with you forever.”