Berna Romulo Puyat is a busy woman. Her career in public service spans three presidents—Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Noynoy Aquino, and now Rodrigo Duterte—and two government offices, where she first worked with the Department of Agriculture as its undersecretary for 12 years before being handpicked to lead the Department of Tourism in 2018. She is also a mother to two children, Maia and Vito. Berna tells My Pope about how she handles solo parenting.
How do you parent through the tough times?
Being a single parent is tough. But I am also lucky that I have great kids and that they rarely give me problems. During the few times I was faced with difficulties and didn’t know what to do, I not only prayed to God but to Dave, my husband who passed away in 2010. Each time I prayed, the problem seemed to solve itself. We also have a family friend who is a child psychologist whom I consult when it comes to parenting. My kids trust her and they know that they can tell her things that they would normally be hesitant to tell me.
When is it time to let go? How do you prepare yourself and your kids for this?
That’s a tough question! My kids and I slept in one room after Dave died. Maia was 14 and Vito was 13. It felt safe having them around. But I noticed that as they got older they would only go to my room when it was time to go to bed. I already felt that they wanted to sleep in their own rooms. I decided to send my kids to our child psychologist friend. After talking to my kids, she told me that they wanted to transfer to their own rooms but were afraid to tell me and hurt my feelings. I was in denial at first, but I eventually decided to let go. I realized that they needed their space.
I don’t think I can ever be prepared to let go of my children but I know I have to. It helps that I am very busy with work so that my world does not revolve around my children.