In Part 1, we learned six lessons on how to be a great son to aging parents. Now in Part 2 of this series, we will conclude the article with the remaining six lessons.
- Being accountable in decision making. There are only three major decisions in life: Whom shall I marry? Which career or business shall I pursue? Which God shall I believe in? A great son makes joint decisions with his dad and loved ones after consulting them for advice and direction. There is always safety in a multitude of counsellors. However, the degree of accountability varies and decreases as we mature and grow in wisdom and experience. For example, when my boys were in their primary schooling years, I was more directive and expected greater accountability from them on their use of time and money and who they spent time with. As they entered into their teenage years, I relaxed my parenting over them; I used the guided, participative parenting approach and mentored them to ‘learn to fish’ for themselves, rather than to give them the fish, in preparing them to set up their respective family units. Currently, I relate with my dad as friends, and we are able to talk and share freely, mostly about my career progress and the well-being of everyone in my family.
- Maintaining good health. My wife and I are practitioners of holistic healthy living. As such, we have introduced many alternative, natural healing remedies to help our parents stay in good health instead of being over-reliant on allopathic medications. We have taught our parents the importance of a holistic lifestyle and of seeing nutrition or food as ‘medicine’. We are the default family ‘physicians’! We always stress that preventive healthcare is more important than sick cure. Therefore, we urge our parents to do an annual or bi-annual full medical checkup so that, based on the health reports, they can make the necessary adjustments.
- Making gifts in kind or money. My wife and I are blessed in that both our parents don’t need us to support their daily living expenses. They are financially independent. However, we make it a point to pay for all their meals with us. From time to time, during special occasions, we also buy them gifts or give them monetary love gifts as a token of our gratitude to create unforgettable memories. Our parents don’t need our money but we need to show our gesture of honoring them through regular giving.
- Accompanying or picking them up. Each time my parents visit me in Kuala Lumpur, I make it a point to pick them up from the airport personally, together with my wife. Although, it’s easy to just wire them some money for a cab to my home, nothing beats that personal extra-mile touch. My wife’s parents stay nearby us. Each time they need to go for a medical checkup or treatment, we have made it a point, over the past 10 years, to send them or accompany them. Sometimes, we intentionally make time to accompany them for a meal at their favorite café or restaurant. When we were young, our parents painstakingly took us to school and to all kinds of events; shouldn’t we do the same for them now?
- Solving crises as a family. Every family has its problems. My family is certainly not exempted from problems. In every crisis, I learn to look for the opportunity to grow and be transformed into a better son for my parents. Recently when my father-in-law was critically sick, we rallied the entire family together, worked closely with medical doctors and nurses day and night for three weeks until he was discharged from hospital. All of us were flat out physically, but the crisis united us as a family, where I intentionally made myself available to be with my wife to render whatever help was needed. An important point to highlight is that the man in the family, as the ‘son’, should never abdicate leadership to the daughters, unless there are no men or they are weak men. As a son of my family, each time we face a family crisis, I lead, solve the problem and turn it into an opportunity for growth and betterment for all of us.
- Standing firm on what is right. I do not hesitate to speak firmly but respectfully to my dad or mum on matters that are wrong, for example, spending money to please those who don’t matter in our lives, giving money to grandchildren beyond their character to handle or favoring one grandchild while neglecting the others. I believe that taking a stand on what is right is not being disrespectful; it is simply tough love in action. As a son, I do not hesitate to speak out and warn my parents of the bad company in their lives who are out to take advantage of them. I also speak out against misplaced priorities i.e. spending too much time on activities outside the home but neglecting the family. I take the stand that family leadership and order must first be firmly established before we can even think about winning the community and nations.
“A great dad is first a great son at home!”
Being a great son in different seasons of life, whether to our birth dad or to father figures acting as our mentor is a pre-requisite to being a great dad. Remember that one day, we too will have grown old and will be needing our children to look after us. Surely we do not want to live out our golden years in a miserable nursing home, just waiting to die, having no sense of purpose. I believe in the universal principle that we will reap what we sow as well as the Golden Rule of doing to our parents what we want our children to do to us. Even if you don’t have good parents or if your parents are no longer around for you to be a great son, remember that there is always someone who can be a father figure to you for you to show care to as a great son. May God give you wisdom and courage to leave behind a new legacy of significance for future generations.
Author: Dr Peter Ting
Reposted from old website 21 July 2017