Filipino Parenting: Raising Emotionally Resilient Children
Does being a Filipino parent influences your parenting style?
We often hear that Filipinos are resilient, malakas ang loob & endowed with the ability to be like water-filling space whatever container, shape & size it finds itself in.
Flexible & transforming ourselves to the call of time whether it’s the frequent typhoon visits, to teachers turn to domestic helpers overseas to put food on the table.
FIRST-AID PINOY LOVE LANGUAGE
When I was 5 years old, I remember standing at the edge of our descending garage driveway waiting to leave for preschool when I was suddenly struck by one of my father’s hired delivery drivers.
I remembered being under the vehicle, the tire was on top of my frail, young body for what felt like at least half an hour of pure horror. In reality, I was only down there for a few seconds, a minute at best.
I can’t recall all of the details now but I do remember shimmying my way out of this vehicle, with vivid memories of my sky blue ironed out uniform which was left with holes in it, somewhat covered in grease and that my right hand was shivering in pain.
Of course, my horrified parents ran to my rescue. I even remember my father’s quivering voice as he scolded his staff with rage.
My mother provided tenderness first-aid, a hug, changed my clothes, tucked me in bed. Not an unusual Filipino parent demonstration of love.
Calling the doctor was a distant thought, I was a tough child & if I cried a bit, that was all.
If you’re a Filipino mom or was raised by one, you know YOU are a special breed. Check out Filipino Moms: Keeper of Their Children’s Hearts.
Fast forward to my migration in America and observing a girl in the playground who bruised her knee after a speedy slide extravaganza.
I watched as she ran to her American mom who in turn, asked her if she was okay. This mom softly asked her if she needed a band-aid & assured her-
That she has what it takes to keep sliding away—and so she did.
Mhia, your American born child bruised her knee sliding down after you have repeatedly warned her to be careful. She ran to you for comfort, crying.
In your hearts of heart, you wanted to comfort her & you somewhat do while you released the words, “Tsk, Tsk, I told you to be careful.”
Since you don’t like to see her hurt herself again, you add salt to injury by starting your with the words, “Sige ka” (better watch it…), hoping that your threat will make her think twice.
In all fairness to Mhia whose only 5, she tried her best to be “more careful,” & when she scraped her elbow while running & started to cry again, you commanded her,
“wag kang iiyak (don’t you cry), I told you to be careful!”
Certainly not all Filipino parents would respond in the way I just described.
If you do, know that your role models have done the same. Be kind to yourself and to them. Even just a tad of being more self-aware is a good start.
If you need additional support, schedule a complimentary consult with Roanne to see if we’re a good fit.
I got a lot of praises as a child for not crying easily.
I biked with the boys in the neighborhood & at times I wouldn’t even wince when my father twisted my ear (pingot) until it felt numb to the touch.
If you have multiple children, you might also be interested in the article: Sibling Rivalry: Are You Fostering Harmful Competition in Your Children (PartI).
ASKING HELP AS A WEAKNESS
When I was 9 years old, I was tasked to help my grandma make Christmas bags by using an industrialized stapler to ensure that the ends of the bag were securely in place. I thought I was getting good at it when I stapled my index finger.
This huge staple went through my finger & left it bleeding like crazy. I stood up & wrapped this finger with a piece of cloth & ran to the bathroom to nurse myself. When my grandma asked where I was, I just told her I needed a break and tried to proceed with my task.
Mhia, the 5 year- old kid in the playground, may have picked up this life lesson that tough means-not complaining, not being a burden to others & saying aray (ouch) as seldom as possible is a good showmanship of your strength.
Never mind if you’re all bandaged up inside as long as you don’t show any traces of it outside.
It’s not difficult to understand why many of us shy away from asking help of any kind. Earlier on, being tough means “holding it in,” & you got a lot of praises for doing so. A crier (iyakin) is usually seen as a sore-loser no one wants to pick as a teammate.
They are seen as weak often needing consolation or getting a shower of teasing to toughen up their thin-skin.
HOW TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN INSTEAD
You are not trying to be (too) American but simply incorporating Filipino values that are important to you while honoring your child’s uniqueness. To start slowly, try these-
1. Instead of saying , “be careful” harshly because in reality you don’t want to see your child hurt.
TRY THIS: Say,” I need you to be careful because mommy/daddy feels hurt when you get hurt. “ You’re simply explaining what might appear to your child as pure harshness in your response.
2. Instead of saying, “be careful” 20x in the playground.
TRY THIS: 10x instead as starter. There is value in the phrase because you do want your child to be careful. But, too much of it, stiffens their movement, which may fulfill your unwanted wish that they hurt themselves again. You can also try the phrase, “watch your surroundings, look where you’re going.”
In this way, you give your child a chance to believe that they are in control and you provide them the tools to indeed be more careful.
3. Instead of telling your hurt child not to cry or I told you so.
TRY THIS as starter, allow your child to cry & say something like, “I’m sorry you hurt yourself. “ Take a minute break. In the beginning stages, you might need more of the break than your child. If you’re at home, you can leave the room to give you & your child space from each other.
By starting this practice, you break your tendency to utter the usual scoldy words that you spit out like wild fire. Remind yourself that no one wants to intentionally hurt themselves. Once you get better at this, the next step is to learn how to comfort your child when they get hurt.
Sharing the invaluable lesson to our children that its ok to ask someone for help and that saying aray (ouch), gives others the opportunity to help while they get the help that they needed is a win-win scenario.
4. Instead of being the almighty judge in your child’s play, allow siblings to compromise and negotiate with each other.
TRY THIS: When cries are heard because a kid is teasing another kid or someone’s not following the rules, hold your breath and don’t enter the room in an instant. Allow space and time. Trust your children to settle their conflict. If you’ve given it sometime and the situation seems to be escalating, then use your judgment. If you need to employ the latter, not all is lost. It’s possible that the kiddos just need more practice. Be slow with taking on the judge role, act as a facilitator instead. Ask questions, supply words if need be.
5. Instead of taking toys/privileges away, teach children how to play appropriately.
TRY THIS: Parents often take away toys when they’ve reached their warning limit. ” If you don’t stop whining at the count of 10, I’ll take that toy away.” It’s true whining kids are a pain in the ears but taking away toys do little to teach children how to play and cooperate with each other effectively.
Usually we just want our children to “stop” whatever it is their doing that we don’t like. You will probably be successful in that quick minute until something else shows up.
To be successful as a parent, you need to be in a space where you’re not rushing because this takes teaching and patience. If you do this, the initial time you put in to teach will give you back dividends in time.
Watch 5 Relaxation Exercises for Children video so you and your child can work on soothing your nervous system.
As Filipinx parent, you have done what you thought is best for your child.
Life can get hectic but your children deserve not 100% of your time but intentional time with them. Intentional time is when you have a block of time in your schedule dedicate to a particular project or task. If you have a timeblock for ” time to play with the kids,” you’ll be surprised to find your children getting into “things,” & accidents less.
Short-cutting negotiations, ability to compromise and to work through things are becoming scarce child-rearing practice. Resilience is built through these platforms.
Be patient with yourself though, the truth is the real work begins within you and everything else follows. If you need additional 1:1 support, schedule your complimentary link here.
In the meantime, as you allow your children to express a bit, practice your own self-expression practice. I’ll leave you one suggestion before we end here: if you’re feeling overwhelmed anytime this week, tell your children or your spouse,
“I need 10 minutes break, mommy’s a bit tired.” Try not to reason why you can’t do this.
Even paid workers get 15 minutes break every so often.
You deserve one.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 15 years. She has frequented at least 500 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. To access self-paced courses and other resources, enter the Kalamansi Juice Academy.
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