Loving Discipline
RECOLLECTIONS, REFLECTIONS - Dr. Jose "Dodong" R. Gullas (The Freeman) - October 13, 2019 - 12:00am

It might surprise some people to learn that we Gullas kids – my siblings and I – were not that pampered during our early years. True, Papa Inting and Mama Pining were very loving parents, but they also saw to it that their love for us did not go to the extent of unwittingly depriving us of that precious opportunity to learn and train. We had comforts according to what our parents could afford – while we also had our assigned tasks according to what we were each capable of at the time.

When we would commit blunders, we had to ‘pay’ for it. Mama, in particular, would have us kneel on monggo beans. Our knees would hurt terribly.

When Papa Inting was starting the Visayan Institute (now University of the Visayas), my brother Eddie, my sister Inday Sering and I were each assigned to clean certain areas of the school – the classrooms, the library, the corridors, and even the comfort rooms. We swept and scrubbed floors. We also ran errands.

Those chores we had to do at our parents’ school and the little punishments we were subjected to every now and then did not tamper with our love and respect for Papa and Mama. We grew up trusting that whatever they did was for our own good. And we were right.

Making us do those menial tasks at the school was our parents’ way of making us “learn the trade,” and not simply “learn the tricks of the trade.” They knew that the day would come when we would take over the reins of running the school. They made sure that we got familiar with every basic task starting at such young age, to prepare us for the bigger responsibilities.

The physical punishments were necessary. Those were meant to leave a mark with the errant child, so he or she will never forget the price to pay for a blunder and always try to avoid doing the same mistake again. Those pinches on the side, the kneeling on monggo beans and the spanking were actually not punishment intended to hurt us – but discipline to teach us a lesson.

It is written: “[The parent] who spares the rod spoils the child.” As I have become a parent myself, I’ve come to understand the emotional pain that our parents felt each time they had to hurt us physically. I know that, in fact, they were hurt more.

Any well-meaning parents are forced to impose some degree of discipline on their kids. And discipline always comes with the risk of some hurt, for that is the language that young kids understand. The hurt, however, goes both ways; in fact, it is felt by the parents first before it reaches the kids.

My maternal grandmother, Lola Andè, had a more subtle style of shaping me. Lola would take me to an expensive restaurant, just the two of us. She’d order the very dishes she believed I would like. And once she’d see that expression on my face signifying my great enjoyment of the food, she’d begin to say her piece to me.

At one time, Lola told me that if I wanted the best for myself – whether food or other things – I should find my own means for attaining these. In that way I could have anything I wanted, anytime I wanted it. The idea hit me hard.

I began thinking of a way to earn my own money. Our family had always been into some business. Lola Andè had a small store that sold the basic necessities of the community, and so did Mama Pining who would travel to the countryside for produce to sell in the city (she had her own small store along Bonifacio Street).

Believing that the same business trait was in my genes, I thought of starting a small shoeshine service. Mama was glad to hear of my plan and bought me my shoeshine set. True to Lola’s words, I felt great to be earning my own money.

When the time came that I had to lead in the affairs of the University, I was ready. While it took sacrificing my own personal ambition of becoming a medical doctor, I was lucky to already have a robust grasp of the ‘trade’ of running the University by then. I had been trained and prepared for it since childhood.

Likewise, at that time I already had a solid business sense, which helped a lot since the University is a business enterprise as well. The fire for business that my grandmother kindled in me had grown. It grew from the small shoeshine box to cover a whole school system.

Looking back, I recall all those little ‘pains’ I had as I was growing up. But I have neither regret nor resentment for it. I am, instead, all too grateful that my parents did what they needed to do in order to stretch my endurance and make me ready to step into life on my own.

Times have changed, I know. And I’m very cautious about how the old parenting style may no longer do in these modern times. The style of parental discipline may have to change – but the same good parental intention remains.

LOVE
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