Father’s Day Guest Columnist Carlos Nino: The Art of Listening

Carlos Nino, a doorman at Parker Towers in Forest Hills, New York, is the father of two sons – Jason, 27, and Kenneth, 21 – and a resident of Kew Gardens/Forest Hills.
Dear Jason and Kenneth,

When I was a boy, my father encouraged me to do something important. He said that if I ever had any problems, I should let him know.

He said he would listen.

He said he would try to understand.

He said he would help me resolve the issue.

“If you keep too much inside your head – if you stay mad about your problems – you might drown,” my father said.

More than once I took him up on his offer to tell him what was bothering me. My father and mother had gotten divorced. So one time I asked him why. And my father explained it to me.

“Now that your head is clear,” my father said, “you can go to bed and sleep better. You can smile, too.”

My father, whose name was Humberto, and who came from a town called Santan Der in Columbia, died a year ago. But in a sense, he’s still alive.

And that’s because he set a good example for me. I’ve kept his memory in my head. I remembered the lessons he shared with me and copied him in raising our two sons.

“If you ever have any problems,” I told both of my sons early on, “you should let me know.”

And they have. One time, Jason told me he was having trouble getting along with the other kids at school. He wanted to avoid getting into fights.

So I listened. I tried to understand and help resolve the issue. I wanted to prevent him from drowning inside his own head.

We have to listen to our kids. And they should know we’re going to. It’s a sacred responsibility.

When you’re fathers yourselves, I know you’ll listen to your kids as my father listened to me. That will honor his memory and make me even prouder of you than I am now.

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