CHARACTER 

By: EDWIN A. DATAN, JR.

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There is a saying that “Your attitude determines your altitude” but how do we develop a good attitude? This is where character comes in. Our character is who we are inside. It dictates our responses toward things and events. How do we develop a strong character? It is by dealing and overcoming life challenges that we develop it. This is where our childhood training plays a big part.

How do we prepare the future generation to have a strong character? Does pampering our children and always keeping them safe help? I think not. Most of us want our kids to experience the good things that we never experienced when we were at their age. So we ended up pampering and spoiling them. I think that our job as parents doesn’t end by being a good provider but the more important thing is to teach them how to survive in the real world. We cannot just leave it to their teachers.

When we do most of the work for them or always come to their rescue when they are in difficult situation they become weaker in terms of asserting themselves. Instead of just coaching we ended up becoming the players in their game. We even fight their battles.

We should teach them how to experiment and allow them to make mistakes along the way. We need to trust them with small decisions and let them experience the consequences.

When I told this to my cousin, she just said that she hopes that I will have a kid of my own so I will know how it feels when your kid is left alone by himself while the parents of his classmates are fighting their battles for them. I imagined the scenario.

She’s right it will be our instinct as a parent to immediately come to the rescue and comfort our kid. Our ego will also dictate that we need to show our kid that we are better than the parents of his classmates. If we gave in to our instinct, will it secure our kid’s future? Will he live a happy ever after life? I don’t think so.

My cousin and I were raised differently. I was trained to be more independent at a younger age being the eldest while she was more pampered and spoiled. What developed my character was my early training as the one in-charge whenever my mom leaves the house. She taught me how to cook, wash the dishes, do the laundry and take care of our sari-sari store. I owed it to her for teaching me how to handle responsibility earlier in life. She also allowed me to play and interact with other kids.

My dad on the other hand, did the same by forcing me to run errands for him whenever he is around. He gave me all the boring stuffs like guarding the “palay” from chickens while it was being dried under the sun. I hate it when he always took me to the market riding a bicycle then I will be the one to guard it while he will buy our food. I was afraid back then. What if my dad never returned or what if somebody stole the bike and took me with him?

When I look back I realized that it he doesn’t want me to become a security guard after all but he did that to make me stronger and develop more patience. It eventually helped me finished my degree in a prestige school and worked in a very well known company.

In contrast my cousin didn’t have those trainings. She was already enrolled in also a good school in Manila but decided to go back to province two weeks. She just got scared when she lost her way going home. It’s kind of lame right? I don’t think she will do that if my aunt did not pamper her.

It totally changed her life. She did not finish college and fulfill her dream. Looking back she really regretted that decision. Maybe it was her destiny after all but I still believe that she got better chances in life if she was strong enough to deal with uncertainties.

In dealing with problems and chasing our dreams, a strong character is indeed a big help if not a requirement. If we are easily discourage and not assertive enough we cannot live up to our potential. It is true that we can still develop it as we move through life but that is already difficult and quite late. Most of the important decisions in life come early.

A good coach should be able to train his players during practice and not on the actual game. Most of the success stories we heard from people came from those who experienced the hardships early in their lives. That is because they already have the strength and motivation to fulfill their dreams.

Maybe as parents, we need to become like coaches too and just watch our kids on the sidelines. We need to detached ourselves sometimes and trust them. How do we know their altitude if we don’t let them fly?

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