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Turlock dads talk parenting, priorities and making every moment count
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Darin Dubal and his daughter Sonya share a laugh while watching her sisters swim lesson. Dubel sees fatherhood as a commitment, spending any and all time that he is able to with his kids. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Fathers of Turlock are taking it upon themselves to be the next generation of doting dads. Although everyone has their own parenting style, most have just one goal: raise their children to be the best that they can be.

 “I’m trying to raise my kids in a way that they grow up to be caring, considerate and kind individuals,” said Gary Williams of his two daughters, Madeleine and Maisie. “We talk explicitly about helping other people and considering other people’s feelings, and we try to be models of considerate parents ourselves.”

As an older dad, Williams doesn’t take a moment with his daughters for granted. Each and every moment with his children is precious, he said, making him stop and take time out of his busy days to appreciate the little things, such as listening to The Beatles with his daughters and dancing around the house.

“I’m realizing that although the time I have with them seems like a long time, it’s really limited,” said Williams. “I try to take time out to appreciate moments. Even if I’m in the middle of something and busy, I force myself to say, ‘Notice this moment, take note of it and remember it, because it’s not going to happen again. Appreciate this moment.’”

Williams’ father was absent for a majority of his childhood and he rarely received affection from his mother, he said. Growing up without the warmth that most children receive from their parents has affected the way that he interacts with his children drastically.

“I’m vastly different than my father,” said Williams. “I make sure that I go out of my way to show affection to my kids. I hug them and kiss them and let them know that I love them.”

Another dad, Tdoe Montijo, also grew up without a father figure in his life and now is raising his children the best he can, with help from his wife, Rosa.

“I want to make sure that they have more than I had growing up,” said Montijo, who was raised by his mother. “I instill respect into them and make sure that they know better, you know, right from wrong, and make sure they know what karma is so they don’t grow up to be malicious people.”

Now a father of three, having his wife alongside him has made Montijo realize the value of two parents raising their children together. They complement each other, he said, with Rosa being the nurturer that the children need and himself being the disciplinary hand when necessary.

“She’s more trustworthy than I am; she has a softer heart,” said Montijo. “Me, I’m more of a ‘No, that’s not okay’ parent.”

Discipline was something that he had to learn later in life on his own, though, as his father was never there to show him what that looked like. But with each child, parenting has become easier said Montijo. With children ages 10, seven and eight months old, he has had plenty of time to perfect his fathering skills.

“With each one going down the line it gets easier as you go,” he said. “Just pay attention; not everything you want to try works out, but don’t make the same mistake twice. Make the best of it.”

Also a father of three, Sergio Herrera had advice for fellow fathers as well.

“I don’t know if anyone is ever prepared for fatherhood – your first time is your first time,” said Herrera. “It’s like somebody driving. When you’re on the road you never know what’s going to come at you and every day it’s a new experience.”

Herrera describes his parenting style as humble, but with a side of strict. Growing up in the city of San Francisco has made him appreciate the mellow and quiet Turlock life, he said, but he still teaches his own children things that he learned while living in the city. As a working father, Herrera makes it a priority to spend time with each of his children as much as possible, whether it be by taking them to swimming lessons or his kids teaching him how to use the latest piece of technology.

“I have my work priorities but family for me is number one, above all,” said Herrera.

While some dads look at their childhoods as examples of how they don’t want their children to be raised, Darin Dubel credits his parents as the reason he wanted to start a family.

“I try to duplicate what my parents did,” said Dubel. “I had good parents who raised me and spent a lot of time with me. It made me want to have a family and do it correctly and want to spend time with them.”

Dubel sees fatherhood as a commitment, spending any and all time that he is able to with his kids. He and his daughters, Sonya, Ava and Emma, enjoy playing the Wii and cooking together, he said, although his wife does help with a majority of the chef duties.

“I’ll barbecue,” said Dubel. “I like the family atmosphere and doing stuff together.”

Dubel and his wife put their daughters in recreational activities not only to keep them active, but to also spend time together, he said. They also make sure that the girls value their education over everything else. As for his favorite part about fatherhood? Dubel said to ask him again in 30 years.

“It’s not over yet,” he said. “Come back and ask when they’re adults and I can see how they turned out.”