Daddy dearest: Fathering The New Generation

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Fatherhood has remained fixed on traditional notions of masculinity. Good fathers teach their sons sports and how to be macho (i.e. never showing their feelings, never caring about their emotions in a girly way). Good fathers don’t braid their daughter’s hair or teach her any man stuff.

In this feminist-shaped era, there’s no room for that kind of nonsense. But as great as that is for equality, it has left many fathers (specifically, the fathers of Gen-Z kids) at a loss. How do you parent when your blueprint for parenting is all wrong? We asked Gippy Tantoco, father of four, to share his insights.

What do you think defines modern fatherhood in the Internet, #MeToo era?
Whether you were a caveman dad, a medieval knight dad, a dad in the ’60s or a dad today, what defines one’s fatherhood is his children. I have four children; I have found that each of them in their own individuality and uniqueness have redefined what it means to be a father. It is they who lead me and keep teaching me.

We have such narrow and limiting definitions of what it means to be a father or a mother and we are pressured into fitting in. We are not supposed to be defined, or put into a box, or even labelled in any way.

The great thing about #MeToo is that it shows our children that they have a voice, that they can speak out, and they can be heard. #MeToo has also shown our children that you are accountable regardless of who you are, and that the lines of unacceptable behavior are no longer such a blur nor can always be shrouded by the powers that be. This is so wonderful and empowering for our children.

Who do you look up to as a sort of blueprint for parenting socially-conscious Gen-Z children?
My wife Hindy—she is a highly conscious human being, and she works at it every day. And for her it is not just about people; it is about everything that co-exists with us in our planet—animals, plants, minerals, the soil from which our food grows, the Moon, the Sun and even our intentions which vibrate as energy.

One bright light for me is that I can see that my children and other children their age are more conscious than their predecessors and they want to change the world more than ever, and as early as now they want to be co-creators of their future and take things into their own hands. I am committed to keeping this fire alive in my children.

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How do you maintain your role as a father without reinforcing patriarchal roles?
My wife Hindy and I are partners in parenting. I am not Captain von Trapp nor is she the Queen of England. I don’t think my children have this idea that mommy is for this and daddy is for that; except when they are feeling ill, it is always their mother they turn to. Hindy and I both wash dishes, we both wash the car, we both take them to school, we both bring home whatever “bacon” we can.

As someone with both sons and daughters, how do you teach your children the importance of feminism and fighting for equality?
As soon as my children learned to talk, they would ask endless questions about what they see, hear, and experience. These questions revealed to me that I did not have to teach them about things like equality, freedom, love and reverence for the planet and all beings. It is in their nature. It must be the genius of whoever or whatever created them.

What values would you most like to impart to your kids? And how do you impart these values without imposing your own value system onto them?
We assume that children are empty glasses that need to be filled. So we stuff them with things they already have, or are unnecessary, causing them to disconnect from who they are, resulting [in] things like self-doubt and fear. I think what our children need is for us parents to walk alongside them and hold their hands in the first 21 years of their life. If we can avoid shoving all sorts of things down their throat, I believe that the extensive list of all these great values like integrity, truth, courage, perseverance, empathy, community, and so many others, will come out naturally from inside of them.

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How does the Waldorf-style of education foster creativity and reverence for the planet in your children, and what do you do at home to make sure it sticks?
Children in a Waldorf school spend a lot of time outdoors rain or shine, running around in untamed nature, climbing trees, playing with soil and sand, and making fairy houses by gathering twigs and stones from nature. There is a nature table in a Waldorf classroom which the children replenish regularly with objects representing the four kingdoms of the natural world. Just outside their classrooms they grow food.

Twelve years ago, Hindy and I started to grow our own food in our backyard. It evolved into a farming enterprise for produce, for play, and for learning. We called it Holy Carabao Holistic Farms. We expanded the backyard farm into a place we called the Fun Farm which we created so that children could play outdoors and where they can engage with farm animals. Later, we created the School Farm at Acacia Waldorf School which we opened to children from other schools to immerse in half-day farming workshops. We also created a festive event which we called Balik Bukid to gather both adults and children in a full day of fun in the outdoors. All our children have been a part of the creative process of all these projects. It had led them to initiate their own projects such as trash walks in our village and rescuing stray kittens that have lost their mothers.

What would you say is a signifier that you’ve done your job right as a parent?
I think that this is a question only my children can answer. No one, not I, nor my wife Hindy can judge me as a father except for my four children.


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