Bernardo M. Villegas
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Parenthood Not Trial and Error

           “Batman” actor Ben Affleck, in an interview with Entertainment columnist Ruben Nepales of The Inquirer, was quoted to say “Parenthood is enormously complicated.  It’s just trial and error, as far as I can tell.”  It is obvious that this macho actor who plays the lead role in action-crime drama, “The Accountant,” has never heard of the world-wide organization called International Federation for Family Development (IFFD), duly accredited by the United Nations as an organization devoted to family welfare and child rearing practices in more than 40 countries in the world.  Its local affiliate, the EDUCHILD Foundation, has been developing and giving courses to parents in key cities of the Philippines for more than thirty years.  In fact, in October 2015 when the IFFD held an international congress in Mexico, there were close to 90 representatives from the Philippines comprising the third largest group.  In addition, there were couples of Filipino descent representing countries like the USA, the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

          I have followed closely the development of EDUCHILD in the Philippines and in neighboring Asian countries because I was part of the initial group of educators who helped some parents at the beginning of the decade of the 1980s to develop teaching materials and cases to be used in their parenting courses. The EDUCHILD courses—following the methodology of IFFD—has as its mission to enable families to take on the formative task of helping other families in the challenging role of child rearing at all stages of the lives of children, literally from one-year-old to twenty-one.  Through practical and participative cases—which the couples study separately and then together with other couples (emulating the business school methodology pioneered by the Harvard Business School) the dialogue between husband and wife is facilitated.  The case then becomes an instrument of communication between the spouses.  This is a key element in a harmonious home:  dialogue is needed to face, in common agreement, the education of the children and the difficulties that arise in the diverse stages of the marriage relationship.  Thus, the first result of these courses is a greater harmony in the decisions taken by husband and wife together each time that they build their family project, by strengthening the unity of their marriage and exerting the effort to educate the children better. Experience has shown that the love and respect that spouses have for one another is the most important condition for bringing up children to be mature and responsible adults.

             EDUCHILD takes couples through transformation-guiding workshop week-ends and extended courses involving “virtual reality” case studies that importantly provide them the context for engaging parents (especially young couples) in one-on-one peer coaching that may last for more than a year.  As mentioned, EDUCHILD’s primary tool is the case study which opens up to the couple the ability to relate to and internalize principles and nuggets of wisdom that are important to them to apply in their parent leadership role.  EDUCHILD also uses the self-realization/self-discovery approach with the help of moderators.  There are various modules in the Program:  “The Beyond I Do” weekend workshop on marital relationship and the Family Visioning half-day workshop make use of the self-discovery approach. In these courses/workshops, each participant is assigned a peer coach who helps the participant to apply the principles and best practices to his/her personal situation at home (with the spouse and/or children).  For rank and file workers, the courses are delivered in Filipino or in the vernacular in such cities as Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, and Tacloban.

          As in business schools, the moderators or case discussion leaders have to take specialized courses on how to handle cases.  In the University of Asia and the Pacific, there are business professors who have taken these courses at the IESE Business School in Barcelona.  They impart what they learned to the prospective moderators to ensure the professionalism with which they are able to conduct the EDUCHILD cases which are either translated from other countries or specifically written considering Philippine and Asian circumstances.  Through exposure to these cases, buttressed by some lectures from experts such as psychologists, educators, medical doctors, theologians, etc. the parents need not depend on trial and error in carrying out their task in the upbringing of their children through all stages of childhood and adolescence.   From vicarious experience, they can learn lessons from other parents who have experienced similar situations that they will be facing through all these stages.

          In raising his three kids—Violet, 10; Seraphina 7; and Samuel, 4—Ben Affleck can benefit from courses offered all over the world by these family enrichments or EDUCHILD foundations.  He need not make the mistake of the father of the fictional character in his recent film “The Accountant” who created a crime-prone creature out of his autistic son by literally physically abusing him to toughen him up to avoid his being bullied by his companions.  As Ben Affleck told Mr. Nepales in the interview, there must have been some other way of imparting the basic values that he wanted for his kids—to be a good person, respectful, grateful, well-mannered and to be critical thinkers.  Without facing the extreme circumstances surrounding the child rearing dilemma portrayed in “The Accountant”, Filipino parents do need the help of the people running the EDUCHILD courses to make sure that their parenting is not by trial and error.  Those interested may contact Dennis Huang at in Metro Manila; Elaine Quinto at in Davao; Sanda Gubalda at in Iloilo;  Kent Calungsod at in Cebu; and Mian Anover at    For comments, my email address is