Why did my dad think it was a good idea to get a lower-paying job and lower our standard of living just because he was stressed and tired? Isn’t it the parents’ job to make sacrifices for their children to be happy?
Dad thought so too.I mean, after all, if you can't provide well for them, you shouldn't bring them into this world, right?Right?Dad wore the same few shirts and pants for years. He had three-dollar meals while we had whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.Dad parted with 80% of his salary every month since he got married, leaving it with Mum to safekeep for our well-being and a brighter future. Sometimes, it was a trip somewhere to forget reality for a bit. Other times, it was a temporary pleasure like eating at a fancy restaurant, one that he had always thought to be unnecessary, but nonetheless accepted for the sake of us.As the years went by, our wants multiplied while his savings shrunk. Dad realised he had to do more to make more. He had to be the man with all the answers, the man with the solution to our “problems”.Dad struggled from job to job because he didn't have access to formal education, yet was never unemployed for more than a couple of weeks. When he was 54, he was going to start his very own business with a couple of mates. They needed some time to look for funding, and some timely support from their wives and children.But Dad was the only one who didn't receive it.By then, our financial plight had gotten to us and we turned against him. We felt entitled to his time, money and life. We saw his dream of a business as a childish fantasy that we apparently knew more about than him.We preached. We argued. We demonised. We subjected him to our ugliest sides, his lifetime of effort and dedication wiped clean from our minds. He stopped sleeping in the same bed as Mum.Dad had become a mere worker bee in the ecosystem that is our lives, nothing more, nothing less.One day, Dad thought he had hit the jackpot. He came into a job that only required him to drive a fancy car for however long or short he wanted, without limits to how much he could make in a day. The longer he would drive, the more he would make. It was simple math to him that added up effortlessly. $5,000 a month was his minimum target.He could finally be Dad again.So he started driving at 7am every morning, only to come home at 1am every night, six days a week.One humid day in November, Dad did not go to work. He did not leave his room. He did not shower.He did not eat. He did not speak. He did not drive.And it did not alert anyone.When we finally broke into his locked room in the evening, Dad was purple.Some form of cardiac arrest. Caused by a neglectful diet, sedentary lifestyle, insufficient sleep, huge amounts of stress, and a complete lack of emotional support from most of his family.The coroner later revealed that his affliction would have given him physical pain the past two years, the kind that would be extremely hard to ignore given its painful nature.Dad absorbed all of that stoically so that we would not have to deal with it. He knew it would have required an operation that would have put him out of driving for a few weeks, which would have meant parting with being Dad again. So no, that was out of the question.Because Dad had to provide all the solutions and all the answers, not introduce new problems. Right?Dad was only 58.I am not telling you that if you carry on without any intention to fix this spoilt and selfish mindset, your Dad will likely die from exhaustion or depression. He may very well cope.I am, however, telling you that you are not entitled to anyone's time (and therefore, life), and that includes your parents'.Giving you life and the chance to exist in this world of experiences, lessons and beauty, by no means implies that your parents ought to deny themselves of personal feelings, pleasures, aspirations and experiences that life has to offer.Having a Dad who is shown no love, respect, support or gratitude for his sacrifices will not result in a higher standard of living for your family.Be very grateful for him. There is nothing he would not do for you, but let's get one thing straight - it has to be him who is doing it, not a stressed out, depressed, exhausted and resentful version of him.