Heard a good father-in-law joke lately? A Father-In-Law’s Take on Preconceived Notions About Them
Exactly. Since time immemorial, mothers-in-law have been the butt of endless jokes—including two from Pope Francis. “The perfect husband does not exist, the perfect wife does not exist. Let’s not even talk about perfect mothers-in-law,” he quipped in Rome in 2014, then followed it up a year later with this joke in his first US tour: “Families quarrel…sometimes plates can fly. Children give headaches. I won’t even speak about mothers-in-law.”
So, how about Father-in-law jokes? They’re few and far between. But that doesn’t exclude them from a number of stereotypes, which Andy (not his real name), a father-in-law to three daughters-in-law, debunks. (Read: A Father’s Prayer for His Children)
In celebration of annual National Father-in-Law Day this July 30, My Pope Philippines and Andy address common misconceptions about the very first man to love your spouse.
#1: He Doesn’t Care
For Andy, parenting doesn’t end even if he’s in his 60s and his sons have children of their own. He still calls to check on them regularly, speaking to his sons and daughters-in-law in his trademark stern yet concerned tone.
But he also likes to let them live their own lives, make their own decisions, and hopefully learn from their mistakes. This can make him—and other dads—appear aloof, but according to him, he has never been remiss reminding his sons and daughters-in-law about the realities of life and to take responsibility for their actions. “Hindi ako nagkulang sa kanila,” he says.
#2: He’s a Henpecked Husband
If movies like to portray a meek husband next to a domineering wife, that’s not always the case in real life, says Andy. As the strong, silent type, he prefers observing situations from the sidelines and not talking when everybody else is. If they want my opinion, I give it, he says. (Read: 4 Unique Gift Ideas To Surprise Dad With On Father’s Day)
Don’t take your father-in-law’s silence as a sign that he’s “ander da saya.” Amidst the chaos of a messy situation, approach him and ask him for his insights. Who knows? He might be the gentle yet firm voice of reason you’ve been waiting to hear.
#3: No Man Will Ever Be Good Enough for His Daughter
Though he doesn’t have daughters of his own, Andy can relate to this stereotype because once upon a time, his own father-in-law was super critical of him. “He would comment on what I was wearing, ask me what my job was,” he says.
Eventually, Andy’s hard-working nature, healthy living, and thoughtfulness won him over, to the point that his father-in-law knelt before him and asked for his forgiveness. “Mas mabait ka pa sa anak ko!” the old man exclaimed. Andy was even the person his father-in-law asked to see just before he passed away.
If Andy had daughters of his own, he says he would be just as protective over them. His message to his hypothetical sons-in-law: “Kung ayaw mo na sa anak ko, iwanan mo nalang. Iuwi mo nalang siya sa akin. Huwag mo siyang saktan—kung hindi, ako ang makakalaban mo.” (Read: Father’s Day Celebration: An Open Letter to Dads)
Spoken like a true father.