Prof. Jan Tadeusz Duda, an inhabitant of Cracow, runs the Department of Applied Information Technology at the University of Science and Technology, is a chancellor of the Local Seym in Lower Poland. In his private life – he is married (for 45 years) to prof. Janina Milewska-Duda and has got three children, among whom his oldest son – Andrzej Duda was elected the President of the Polish Republic. Maria Fortuna- Sudor talks with prof. Jan Tadeusz Duda about the father’s role in family life

MARIA FORTUNA-SUDOR: - Professor, you have participated in the event of passing the Act of the National Electoral Commission to the newly elected president, concerning the election for the President of the Polish Republic. What does the father think about in this situation?

PROF. JAN T. DUDA: This is real joy about which we read in ‘Flowers of St. Francis…’. It means joy which implies very difficult challenges. I am aware that this is the beginning of the road, that this is an indication of the Divine Providence. This is not a road to be pleased but to work hard. I think that Andrzej Duda received a great trustfulness credit from the society and that he is going to face a very difficult mission.

– Did you ask yourself questions what your son would be when he grew up?

– A parent has a right to see his child as a great person. It leads to the rule: ‘Everyone wears a baton in a backpack’. I say that when a baby is born, new world is born. Parents must discover it and somehow integrate it into other worlds. We did not have any particular plans towards our children. We wanted them to be respected, good and wise people.

One of English politicians said that he had dreamt of becoming a prime minister since his childhood. At home I commented on it that it is necessary to have ambitious purposes – to want to fulfill important missions. Not in order to achieve a high post, but in order to use one’s talents completely. However, what is the most important, is to listen to what the Providence speaks, not fight with it. I think that the Providence knows what destination everyone has and what is good for everyone. I say in my professional language that I do not steer my life, but only modify parameters of probability arrangement, that is, I modify parameters of this impact which the Providence gives to us. The Romans used to say: ‘Who listens to the fate, he is led by the fate, but who fights with the fate, he is dragged along by the fate’. We change the word ‘fate’ into the Providence and this is an essential difference, because, according to the Romans the fate was blind and malicious. In our opinion, the Providence is always good.

– You became a father quite early because at the age of 23. Is it a good time to set up a family, to become its head?

– We were at the age of 21 when we got married because we had found each other. I asked my father for advice in this issue, who was a wise man. I asked him how I should behave and he answered briefly: ‘One should get married only when one finds a proper person’. I understood it as acceptance of my decision. We did not live together for the first year; my wife was studying in Łódź and I – in Cracow. Andrzej was born after two years. This parenthood was a great joy for us, especially that our families reacted to it very joyfully. Although we had bad conditions for a start.

– That is true, you did not have suitable conditions. Is an assistants’ hotel a suitable place to bring up a child?

– Every place is good to bring up a child. I hear about biographies of people who were brought up in slums and also grew up into excellent people. Anyway, looking at this hotel from the perspective of time, I notice that for Andrzej it was a good place. We created a discussion forum there. We often talked about serious issues, and children used to move around between us, playing with their little cars and listening, and were absorbing that atmosphere. We had a principle that a child is as important as an adult. We let Andrzej participate in discussions, express his opinion, although not everyone liked it. We thought that a child has a right to feel a legitimate member of the society. In that assistants’ hotel there were also other children which gave company of children at his age. They have been in friendship till today. So, I think that this place was composed of a much more socializing environment than closing oneself at home. Although I do not recommend to return to those times (laughter). I only wanted to say that not everything which looks bad, is really bad.

– Some parents think that they found it easier to bring up daughters than sons, others think different. And how was it in your case?

– I respect the sexes variety. A woman’s nature is an impenetrable mystery for me. I maintained a gentle distance to my daughters’ problems. I was not their trustee for sure. Here I saw a significant role of my wife but my daughters always could rely on my advice or help. Whereas, I talked with Andrzej about all issues. When my son was older, he admitted that he had not told me everything because he had not wanted me to be afraid. We have got on well with each other till now and when we meet, we discuss various life problems.

– In one of interviews with the newly elected President, I found a statement: ‘You look like a walking advertisement from Cracow: little, beautiful, with nice haircut, from a good family…’ What was that Duda family of professors like? Could you give its three most important features?

– We passed over belief to our children that hard work leads to a real satisfaction with life. Secondly, it is necessary to have ambitious purposes. Thirdly, it is necessary to keep distance towards oneself and respect to others. We are sensitive to the so-called buffoonery. We are not waiting for distinctions. I sometimes joke that every honour makes purgatorial punishments after death longer (laughter).

– Did you make upbringing mistakes?

– Who doesn’t makes them? When I made a mistake I apologized to my child and it sometimes raised controversies. The most controversial situations are those when a child makes a mistake unintentionally. Then there is a dilemma whether to scold him. I remember from my childhood that I had a sense of harm when I was punished. But as an adult a realized the fact that we must also teach a child responsibility for what he does, so that he could be aware of consequences.

I think that we must discuss the problem of bringing up children, use experiences of others and share one’s experiences with others. Because there are very important issues and there are not people who do not make mistakes. I also discuss these issues with my children. The best methods are suggested by love to a child and sense of responsibility for his future.

– What is the most difficult in a father’s role, in your opinion?

– Generally, the problem of today’s fathers is undermining their role in the family. I think that men have predispositions to long-term, strategic actions and women are better at everyday operational actions. In calm times in everyday life, there are not many strategic problems. So, one can say that men lose a field of self-realization and may feel marginalized. Especially if a woman is enterprising and assertive. Certainly, it is good that she is this kind of a person, but a wise wife should take assure her husband that he is important to her. A man’s position at home is important also because children need authorities. That is not true that they want to have only stress free life. No, children expect somebody to show them where there are boundaries. And now, there is a question how to build this authority.

– Indeed, how?

– I will say something coming directly from my heart – a common prayer. I think that families should pray together every day. It seems to me that this is extremely valuable, when in the evening we kneel and, for example, we admit to the fact that not everybody has done everything well on a particular day. And then the authority of a parent is built. Even if he is not successful in something. A man must believe that he is an authority for his children, regardless of objective and not always beneficial circumstances. He is an authority because he always has got a lot to offer in the sphere of a spirit and children expect it from their father.

– And what are you praying for, as parents of the newly elected President?

– We are proud of all our children. We believe that each of them has a mission in their lives. We are praying for strength and wisdom to fulfill these missions, that is, taking on responsibility for the society in less and greater extent. And we also ask Readers of ‘Sunday’ for a prayer in this intention for our son.


„Niedziela” 25/2015

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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