“MARRY early.”

Entrepreneur and father of two Frank Oliva has an unconventional tip for young couples these days. Frank and his wife, Jo, married when they were fresh out of college.

“Marrying early was a choice we made when we were still boyfriend and girlfriend. We planned on getting married two years after graduating. But a beautiful gift came a year early and so we decided, ‘Let’s do this.’” The wedding bells rang. Frank was 21, and Jo was 20.

Cynics would feel that getting settled down even before soaring off would be the equivalent of social suicide. Fortunately in Frank’s case, he’s never seen marriage as a burden. “I never felt tied down, not even once. If I’d go back, I’d still do the same.

Financially stable, maybe? “No, we weren’t. I guess we managed then by working hard—a lot.”

“For me, the point of ‘getting ready’ never happens. There will always be some reason not to marry if preparedness is a question. That is why for me, marriage is a decision and a commitment to love and uphold. Finding someone like my wife who loves me and my sons completely is a gift I always thank the Sto. Niño for every single day of my life.”

For Frank, marrying early only has one great requirement: great commitment. But after, he sees the positives outweighing the negatives. One of those good things brought about by marrying early is his uncanny closeness to his children.

Frank and Jo have two boys, Ervin Ken Zacchary, 16, and Ethan Gabriel, 15.

“Another thing about marrying early—which for me is at least not beyond 25 years old—is the compatibility you have with your children. Once you have kids at a younger age, you still have the energy and vibrancy to match theirs as they are growing up. So you can play more with them, you can dance and sing to their music, you can still understand the trends they are going through. The generation gap is not yet that great, so it is a lot easier to bond with and understand them.”

How many dads out there would actually take their boys out to Boracay for a rave? Or join their children in a New Year’s party? Frank did.

“I support them in their pursuit of their different passions. Music, sports and their dreams. Corny or even ‘gay-ish’ to say, but we even have a salon day when we all go to have our haircuts. Because I believe, if there’s anyone who should be influencing your sons’ fashion, it should be the man of the house!” Frank quipped.

“Age is definitely a factor. But it’s not just that. I just go out of my way to talk to them. Have fun with them. Do things that they like and enjoy, not things or activities I think they will enjoy. I do not push them to do anything their hearts are not into. So in the process, I discovered and learned each of their individuality.”

As for matters of discipline, Frank doesn’t thing it has to be all tough and strict.

“I believe in discipline by the heart. You talk to your kids. Send them to a good school. Make sure as they are growing up that they value what matters most, which is family and love—not material things.” Frank shares that the family members have had their share of disagreements but somehow they have all managed to fix the issues.

Here are some tips from Frank—although he feels this is case-to-case basis—how fathers can be closer to their kids regardless of age gap.

  1. Have a regular father-sons or mother-daughters bonding time.
  2. Parents should take the time to talk to their children, especially during meal times.
  3. Laugh with them. Dance with them. Drink with them, although, just let them have juices! Haha.
  4. Show your humanity. It doesn’t hurt for your children to see that sometimes even fathers make mistakes. Sometimes in an effort to be perfect, we mess up a lot. So showing them who you really are and opening your soul to your sons will make them do the same to you.
  5. Support their dreams and ambitions without judging them. If they may want to be a singer, then send them to voice lessons and be the very first guy to do a standing ovation when he sings.
  6. And the last, most important thing: Make sure to let them know you are very proud of them and you love them. Tell them that every moment of the day.