By Myrna Malacad Cuevas
My Name is Myrna Malacad Cuevas. I grew up in a poor family in a small village of Antique, Philippines. My parents particularly my mother instilled the value of education in my siblings and me as children. Because of that value, I always studied hard in school and graduated as valedictorian of my High School class. Then through scholarships I went on to obtain a University degree and became a Certified Public Accountant. Prior to migrating to Canada with my family, I held a managerial position in a multi-million dollar corporation. My husband, Dante, was an engineer on internationally-bound ships that took him away from the family for most of the time. We decided to migrate to Canada in order for the family to be together.
We came to Canada in 1989 when our eldest Mydene was 8 years old, our second eldest Darren was 6 years old, and our youngest Dan Mark was 2 years old. A new life began in a foreign land, without relatives or friends. Raising children was already a daunting responsibility but became even more so in a new county, new culture and new environment. We needed extraordinary wisdom, patience, guidance and love.
The journey we learned from raising our professional children can be summarized in the following principles:
Firstly, we instilled in our children three essential elements regarding their identity: who they are, who they belong to, and what their purpose in life is. The verse that guided us was: “They will be called the oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour” Isaiah 61:3b.
WHO THEY ARE: They are Filipino Canadian Christians. They are representatives of their race, their country and their faith wherever they go.
WHO THEY BELONG TO: They are ambassadors and witnesses of Jesus.
PURPOSE IN LIFE: To display God’s splendour and excellence in and through their lives. They will do tasks with excellence for God.
Secondly, we encouraged them to do their best in whatever they chose to do, whether it was washing dishes or studying for school. When they presented to us a 76% grade, knowing they gave their best effort to attain that grade, we commended them – even when they expected higher. We believed that obtaining a 76% grade with their best effort was better than a 90% grade for a mediocre effort.
Thirdly, we imposed house rules with love. During their early ages, we encouraged them to read books rather than watch TV. TV time was limited to 30 minutes each day, which they could bank for later days. Dante made a TV timer for each of them so we could monitor their time spent. My husband and I followed the same limitations. We “walked the talk” as an example to them.
Household chores were divided among the five of us, starting when they were elementary-aged and no sleepovers in other houses were allowed but we were always willing to host friends under our supervision. We included our children in making our decisions. Any family member could call a family meeting if there was a conflict or issue. We taught them to respect, love and care for each other. The victory of one, is a victory for all; and the failure of one, is a failure for all. Each child was to help each other reach their goals through practical, emotional and spiritual support.
We taught them to be kind and compassionate, and to serve the poor and less fortunate. Each child spent time volunteering at a homeless shelter and spent time being summer camp counselors for children. They went to a slum area in Manila and started a food program for children.
Most importantly, we nurtured their faith in the Lord Jesus. Their success in pursuing their professional goals would not be possible without mentioning their faith – for with God, nothing is impossible.
Parenting will always be a great joy!
WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN NOW?
Mydene Cuevas is a Business and Commercial Lawyer with Miles Davison LLP in Calgary, Alberta.
Darren Cuevas is a Medical Doctor doing his residency on family medicine in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dan Mark Cuevas is an optometrist with Clinics in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, Alberta.