3 Obsolete Filipino Parenting

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s father used to say, “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”

I had the opportunity to spend lunch with 2 colleagues today after my class. While enjoying a couple of fish tacos, I took interest in the discussion of Pinoy parenting in America. We shared ideas on the ways we all were raised and how we try unsuccessfully to bequeath the same to our children.

1. Huwag makisali sa usapan ng matatanda. Although kids are welcome at the dinner table, they are expected to be quiet during the conversations adults make. When a kid either interrupts or butts in, we treat that as disrespect.

2. Huwag sumagot sa nakatatanda. We always think of ourselves as infallible. So, when we reprimand a child we expect them to just listen and be receptive even if we’re mistaken. When a child reasons out, our blood pressure suddenly rises and we yell back “Marunong ka nang sumagot!” followed by a litany of sacrifices we make just to provide them a decent life. “Syam na buwan kitang dinala sa sinapupunan ko. Inalagaan kita mula nang isinilang kita. Ibinigay ko ang lahat sa iyo. Tapos ngayon, sasagut-sagutin mo lang ako?”

3. Mano po! Here’s a typical Pinoy Catholic tradition that really gets in my nerves. I remember my first meeting with my father-in-law, he extended his arm towards me thinking that I would bow down and place his hand over my forehead. Unfortunately for him, I shook his hand instead and in my mind I was saying “Nice to meet you, Billy. Sorry, but we are equals!”  I admit, I had given a few manos to my grandparents, but I have never trained my kids to do it. It is a sign of submission the prayles (Spanish priests) used to train and condition the mindset of the early pinoys to assert their dominance. As pinoys were doing manos, they are submitting themselves to the authority of the colonizers. These, along with “huwag makisali sa usapan ng matatanda” and “hwag sumagot sa nakatatanda” are all part of a scheme to lower the morale and the self-esteem of the pinoys and subdue any inclinations to revolt and be free. And, it worked! It worked that the Las Islas Filipinas was under the Spanish spell for 333 years!

However, at this time and age we should empower our children to their fullest potentials. Some of the ways we can do this is to allow them to express their opinions without fear. They are part of the family and a distinguished guest at a dinner table. They should be afforded the same respect as the other members of the family. Let them speak and be heard. Let them give their two cents. Then, we can guide them through those conversations.

It is okay if we admit that we’re mistaken. When confronting a child about their behavior, it is okay for them to speak up and defend themselves. It is okay that they are allowed a chance to explain because we can only hear and see so much. Then, we can be in a dialogue and explain to them why certain behaviors are unacceptable.

We can encourage them to be in conflict with us as long as they do that with respect. Conflict and arguments are okay. It is not okay when we start to scream at each other and forget how to listen.

There are two main reasons why we need to let go of these obsolete Filipino parenting. First, we only disenfranchise them and do not support the development of their self-esteem.

The other reason?

Sige ka, baka itapon ka lang sa nursing home balang araw!


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