Sunday, July 8, 2012


I FIRST came across the term "emotional banking" when I started being serious with my role as a father.

Yes, a father's role needs to be taken seriously, with much more seriousness perhaps than governing a major province. I have been told many times that one's success in his public life would mean nothing if he does not make good in his role as head of the family, husband to his wife, and dad to his daughters.

So, one of my first lessons in serious daddy-hood was "emotional banking."

Here's how I understood it: My daughters' hearts and memories are like a bank account. It accepts deposits and allows for withdrawal. Just like in the banking system, one can withdraw only what one has deposited, plus interests and minus fees. To make a withdrawal in excess of one's deposits makes for an overdrawn account. To issue a check with an amount over that of what is in the account makes for a bouncing check.

Withdrawing less and keeping more in the account means large average daily balances. That makes for a healthy financial state. It also means more interests for the amount kept in the account.

Making an emotional "deposit" means expressing approval, affirming, hugging, showing affection, applauding even the littlest feat, and citing even the barest achievement.

It means consciously spending quality time with one's children, allowing them to see you in your unguarded moments, laughing with gusto, clowning, and enjoying the same TV cartoon characters they love.

Perhaps, the most important "deposit" is the unexpected "I love you," said sincerely and with no hidden agenda.

Making an emotional "withdrawal" includes constructive criticisms, the occasional light scolding and admonition, the outright "no, you can't do that," the inevitable "no, not now, maybe later," or, the unavoidable "next time na lang, daddy's too tired."

It also includes the non-verbal signals, like the intentional frown, the shaking of the head to convey a "no," the unintentional shove or push-away, the cold stare.

The tip is to make sure the emotional bank account is healthy. And, by the way, one cannot make an emotional withdrawal without opening an emotional bank account with a large initial deposit first. Just because one is a Dad does not entitle one to shove an emotional ATM card and push the "withdraw" button on a non-existent account.

It is also good for the Dad to occasionally "inquire" about how much balance he has. That he may have overdrawn or has reached the maximum allowable withdrawal for the day would not be far-fetched.

The lessons on "emotional banking" are vital if one plans to be a really good Dad.

The lessons lead one to discover that the Filipino "tatay" does not come with an affirming nature. Our traditional view of "tatay" is one who is strict. A disciplinarian. Sometimes, even cold and distant.

Maybe, that kind of image works, too.

But I would go for being a Dad who is also good at "emotional banking."

The pay-off is excellent.

As one's daughters grow, one discovers that the interest on the "emotional deposits" balloon. At some point, the interest earnings far exceed the balance of the deposits.

A Dad realizes that when he finds out how forgiving his daughters have become. They overlook the occasional unintended "emotional withdrawals." It's like they have this money bin from which they dip in order to cover for the unintended withdrawals that Dad makes.

Financial consultants encourage the setting up of a "nest egg." This is a fund that people build up and is intended for their retirement, for the time when they no longer earn money from either employment or business.

The ideal "nest egg" would be an amount which can yield interest equivalent to what one may need for sustenance plus medical requirements and other expenses that come with being old.

I suggest that Dads also build an "emotional nest egg."

This would be like a lasting bond between him and the children - a bond that they would never outgrow. A bond that becomes stronger with the passage of time. A bond that makes it easy for both Dad and daughter (or son) to retrieve the beautiful memories that came with the build-up of the "emotional nest egg."

Somehow, I can imagine how wonderful it would be when one starts living off that "emotional nest egg." I imagine myself in my twilight years, sitting on my favorite couch, listening to my favorite music.

Then, my grown-up daughters would come in, wrap their arms around me, and whisper to my ears using the very same words I deposited into their hearts when they were mere toddlers.

That is what I would call a true blue-chip investment.

May your Sunday be blessed with the warmth of your children's hug.

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