One Dad’s Language

Parenting is always a tough job, there’s no doubt about that. I have a lot of respect and admiration for people who do that on their own, because parenting with two people isn’t exactly a piece of cake. This is true especially when the parents speak different languages.

Maybe you wonder how two people who speak different languages actually get together to have children. Here’s where I need to explain that the language of love is an actual thing. Also, when one of the people plays the electric guitar and looks mysterious while playing this guitar, getting together doesn’t seem like an actual decision so much as an inevitable situation.

By the time you have children, most of the mystery is gone and all of the colossal cultural misunderstandings remain, which is probably why bicultural marriages have a slightly higher divorce rate than do mono-cultural ones. These are things you ponder as you wait outside the grocery store with a full cart and a toddler who is determined to run in front of a speeding motorcycle, waiting for your husband to arrive ten minutes ago.

But for all rapid twists and turns that life takes after children, and all the frustration of trying to learn two sets of vocabulary for baby equipment, I really am so appreciative the father of my children. He has absolutely dedicated himself in the raising of these two kids, and he is completely committed to doing this alongside me, the Canadian who insists on a regular bedtime and who is not really flexible about it.

I actually think there are some great benefits to a bicultural parenting approach. We tend to complement one other and provide a balance to the other’s extremes. What I admire in him are usually things that I lack in my own way of child-rearing, such as:

  • The ability to see the bright side to every single situation, and the security in knowing that everything is going to work out just fine. The Boy ate lunch alone at school for a couple of weeks straight back in first grade. My take: he is surely being bullied by his entire class and he will be traumatized forever. Gilberto’s take: he’s developing self-reliance, and he hasn’t met the right friend yet.


Guess what.

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  • The skill to drive, eat, speak, sleep, and generally exist in a busy environment of noisy, exuberant children without suddenly snapping and emptying the room in a series of short, barked commands. He is totally unfazed by a car full of chatty tween girls, and actually finds it kind of energizing. I find him smiling to himself amid the chaos and wish for that level of sound tolerance. I still think that a lifetime spent next to a guitar amp has equipped him with enough auditory damage to allow him to block out the highest decibels of giggling.
  • The stomach for any kind of crisis, especially of the medical variety. The kids go to him with any kind of physical complaint, and he responds with calm and a pair of nail clippers. I think he actually enjoys it.
  • The fortitude to let go when things don’t go the way we planned. We have spent every single family trip stuck in the rain somewhere, and he’s always the first one to make a joyful run for it. The rest of us always end up following him, laughing until we genuinely can’t breathe.

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My children’s father is the kindest man I know. He loves without reservation, he listens with limitless compassion, and he forgives freely. He doesn’t hold on to anger or allow it to build walls between him and his kids.

I have learned so much about what unconditional love is all about, just by watching him hold our children and tell them that it’s going to be ok. I have learned about letting go of my schedule when it’s time to play, and to laugh when our plans go completely sideways.

Because love is his native language, and he speaks it to us every day.

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