Wednesday, March 10, 2010

6 Things Filipino Parents Should Know

I have been blessed with, what could possibly be, the best parents on earth. No lie. It's not just my opinion. It's the opinion of my girlfriend, my friends, and my siblings' friends. What makes it even crazier that my parents are FILIPINO. My parents are very different from other Filipino parents I have encountered. I am very fortunate. From what I've seen in the past 10 years, most Filipino parents have no idea how their kids feel, nor do they consider their child's emotional and spiritual well-being to be of primary concern. Sadly, I have found that most Filipino-American kids are estranged or harbor ill feelings towards their parents.

The following are 6 Things Filipino Parents Should Know. This is not an entry pointing out the flaws in all Filipino parents. These are simply things that most Filipino youth are feeling, yet they do not have the means to express it.

1) Never, under any circumstances, compare your kid to someone else: You should NEVER compare your child's intellect, sense of dress, body type, or level of athletic/musica/academic ability to another child's. Why? Because it makes your kid feel like complete crap, that's why! Your child is a unique creation. They are YOURS. They have their own set of talents, abilities, and attributes that set them apart from the rest. By comparing them to other kids, you are only highlighting their faults. Instead, highlight what makes them great. Odds are that somewhere out there, some parent is comparing their kid to YOURS. Just something to keep in mind.

2) Put the emotional and spiritual well-being of your child FIRST: From what I have encountered as a young Filipino-American adult, I have noticed that a common problem that Filipino youth have toward their parents is that they feel that their parents only care about two things: Academics and Money. These two things are definitely important, but I have found that most Filipino parents put so much emphasis on these two things that they neglect their child's emotional and spiritual well-being. Most Filipino parents I have encountered assume that just because their kid is getting good grades, that they are able to keep a roof over their head and feed them, then they are doing fine. Nothing could be further from the truth. Academic success is not a measure of how your child is doing as a human being, nor is their financial status. Far too many Filipino parents put way too much emphasis on the external things (i.e. grades, looks, money, etc.) as opposed to seriously looking into the hearts and minds of their kids. As a result, most Filipino kids that I have come across feel that their parents truly do not care about them. No matter how good your child's grades matter how much money they may make in the future...if you don't show that you care about the way they feel, then your child will resent you for it. Make sure to show your child that you care about not what they are getting in school or how much money they make, but that you care about who they are and how they feel.

3) Cherish your child's opinions: In the standard Filipino home, it is not a's a dictatorship. The parent makes the rules. The kids follow the rules. Simple, right? Well, perhaps in early 20th century Philippines it worked, but not anymore. Your children spend 7 hours a day, 5 days a week in an American school system where they are encouraged to raise their hands and speak up about the topic at hand. When your kid tries to express their opinion about something that they disagree with you on, don't take offense to it. Don't view it as a mutiny. Instead, listen to them...they may have something important to say. Just because they are your children, doesn't mean they have child-like minds. Listen to them and appreciate what they have to say. They may see things that you don't see.

4) We are in America. Not the Philippines.: Traditional Filipino values are wonderful. I feel that they root us in a firm moral grounding. Filipino values emphasize hard work ethic, strong family ties, and respect for one's elders. However, Filipino parents who have raised their kids here in the USA must realize that their kids will NOT behave the same way or share all of the same values as their parents. The culture of America and the culture of the Philippines is not the same. Please don't spout phrases like, "If we were in the Philippines, then you would not be behaving this way." Well, we aren't in the Philippines. We are in America. We are grateful for it. We are not completely Filipino. While we may have Filipino roots, we are an American tree...a tree that you grew here on American soil, not Filipino soil. We aren't throwing our Filipino values out the window...we are simply adjusting them to become relevant in American society.

5) Let us pursue what we truly want to pursue: Yes, medicine and business may be "safe" routes to take financially. If one wants to pursue medicine or business...then more power to them! However, if one does not feel that those two avenues are for them, then please, don't judge them. Your child may be meant for something else. Again, this is NOT the Philippines where one needs to go into a specific field of study to survive and raise a family. This is AMERICA. This is the land where we can actually pursue our dreams and succeed. You brought us here for a better life. Remember that having a better life involves more than just financial security. It must have spiritual fulfillment as well.

6) Congratulate our good deeds: If we do the dishes or clean the kitchen properly, then it'd be great to hear "Thank you" or "Good work". Now most Filipino parents will say, "Well, it's my kid's job to do those chores anyway. Why should I bother thanking them or congratulating them?" If you want to encourage good behavior, you must reinforce it by verbally communicating your support of their behavior. If you fail to acknowledge the good work your child has done, then you are not encouraging their good behavior. By encouraging good behavior, you will see more of it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a lucky to have unorthodox filipino parents.

I came across this entry after googling about filipino parents. I am a filipina, an only child, and I want to thank you for writing this. I only wish that all filipino parents could get the chance to read this.

Unfortunately, this type of parenting will continue as long as new filipino parents immigrate to America. Parents who were born in the Philippines are typically stubborn; they won't change for anyone unless they get smacked with a big fat reality-check. And sometimes they still won't change.

Being a first-generation only child, I was raised into a perfectionist, always pleasing my parents with good grades and good morals. I never spoke back and never disobeyed. I was the perfect child -- until senior year of high school. Getting good grades wasn't enough; I needed to be perfect in every subject to become valedictorian. If I didn't, I was a failure. Guess what? I fell into depression, was in and out of hospitals throughout my senior year, and only graduated with the help of the school administration and my long history of good grades. To obtain full recovery, I was forced to take a year off before starting college. Obviously, these events changed my life and my parents' views.

I implore all filipino parents out there to open your eyes and see your children for who they are: human beings. They are human beings who need to be treated like any other. Yes, they are your children so you expect them to fulfill their duties, but you also need to pay attention to their mental health, especially if you have an only child. An only child can easily become a perfectionist or even a failure. You need to teach them that it's okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. You need to talk to them daily, have the whole family at the dinner table, and create a welcoming medium for communication. If you think that arguing in tagalog while your child is asleep is the best way to make good parenting decisions behind the curtain, you're wrong. Your child WILL hear you argue, and they DO understand what you're arguing about, even in tagalog. So if you argue about how skinny or fat your child is becoming, or how they're not as tall as their fellow classmates, they WILL hear you and they WILL feel as if they're "never quite good enough."

August 9, 2010 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger About said...

Hi, Mike!
This is one of the best post I have ever read.
Good job!

Baan :)

September 3, 2010 at 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Lynn M. said...

Hi Mike,
I also happened to stumble upon your site while researching my Filipino heritage. You did a good job in expressing the difficulties that we 1st generation Filipinos have to go through. I also agree with the anonymous post as I too am an only child of immigrant parents, and can definitely relate to all of what was said. One more thing that has always been a big issue between my Mom and I is her psuedo catholic beliefs which she confuses medicinal healing and superstitions, with the beliefs of the church. When I correct her, she becomes defensive. I've learned to tune her out when she starts to ramble on with that. But thank you for your post.

October 4, 2010 at 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Emerald said...

I believe you are truly blessed with your parents Mike. Thank you for this post. I too came across this when I googled "filipino parents expect money". Hah.

My mom's birthday is today and is expecting at LEAST $100. Yes she blatantly asked for a minimum amount of cash from me. This among other unrealistic values and expectations you touched upon is what my mom embodies.

I wish I could show this to her and many other parents, but she takes everything I say in disagreement as fighting words. There is no such thing as a logical argument with her and a lot of Filipino parents.

You should totally have this post published in Asian Journal and other national Filipino publications!

November 9, 2010 at 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is just with all the minorities haha because my parents are the exact same way . Thanks for writing this i wish they could read it but i highly doubt that'll happen . By the way I'm a 16 year old Puerto Rican female and the oldest . so yeahh my parents expect the best out of me but i see your point on all this so good job mike [:

January 5, 2011 at 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally enjoyed reading this, Mike. What you said matched with my mom and stepdad. Soo hard to talk to them and I agree with some of the other posts. I know that some of the things I say come across as "fighting" words or disrespectful.

November 16, 2011 at 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your blog.. it's great! I am sending this to my mother.. It's kinda refreshing to know that I am not the only one out there has an emotional disconnect with my filipino parent, I could talk till I am blue in the face but my mother would rather take advice from a stranger.

January 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is an eye opener for me. You did an outstanding job on creating this blog Mike! I needed to hear this wisdon from someone who knows what I am talking about, but also far from having parents who are typical parents such as the ones that I have known throughout my life. I know and have seen many of my Filipino friends who have been brought up so typically by having to be the best and be perfect in everything especially in academics. It's no wonder so many Filipino parents have such high hopes and great expectations out of their children and often are still feeling not good enough.

April 27, 2012 at 1:04 AM  
Blogger Greg Chua said...

First of all I want to congratulate with your post. Anyway, this article is great and it is nice to know all of this for our child and to be a good parent also towards them. I will refer this to my parent also. Thanks for sharing this!

September 24, 2012 at 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mike, for your insightful and candid post. This rings true with many first-generation American born children. Another thing to add is that many Filipino parents "enable" their children to the point that they do not want their adult children to move out of the house UNTIL they get married. There are many Filipino-American adults who still live with their parents well past their 30's and even 40's. My parents did not want me join to activities (scouts, sports, clubs) that would have helped with furthering my social development. Their idea was attending a THEIR friend or relative's party or get-together, while my siblings and I felt as just "tagging along". Children need to be raised with many life experiences instead of being "sheltered", which can prevent them from successfully living as self-sufficient and practical adults. If these parents really wanted their children to for instance be "doctors", "lawyers", "entrepreneurs" or in any career with very large earning potential and lots of prestige, then they can foster diverse interests in the an early age by taking them to the zoo, museums, beach, library, nature walks, and better yet, to improve development of their children's critical thinking through active inquiry/dialogue/discussions instead of instilling fear, embarrassment, guilt, shame, resentment by such comments as "why can't you be like...?" or "you don't want people to see you as a ....." or in general any type of harsh criticism and reprimand that can really negatively affect a youngster's emotional and psychological development. My parents think I am fully responsible for developing my "self-esteem" and my "confidence". They were not aware that their words and actions have an immeasurable impact to the child's overall mental and psychological development. Accepting my faults and mistakes in life is part of liefe.

For daughters, there are Filipino parents who have this notion that they should marry somebody "rich" or "well-to-do" or they would not amount to anything, despite their daughters being well-educated, earning more than a decent living, and having wonderful people skills. A true measure is not someabody's paycheck but his/her character. If their daughter marries a man who earns the average salary, but still able to support the family, then she is not considered successful because she married what the parents label as a "commoner", despite the man being a caring and a hard-working individual. It seems that a "looking good" in front of others or having a certain "reputation" is more important than the children being law-abiding and productive citizens, and growing up to be well-adjusted adults, happy with what their doing.

September 25, 2012 at 1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize for several grammatical errors in my comment. In the last sentence, "their" should be "they are".

I am still very grateful for my parents. They want the best for their children just like any parent. They also do not want their children to make the same mistakes they made.

My parenting style is different from that of my parents. Experience is the best teacher of life.


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April 14, 2013 at 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have experienced most of these things as a Filipino-American growing up in the US with a Filipina mother. Sometimes my mother just forgets what country she is living. I have always wondered why my mom acts the way she acts. 1,3,4,5 nails it. Thank you for writing this blog; i was confused for awhile.

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June 15, 2013 at 3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like filipinos however many filipino parents are tyre kickers, useless parasites that scab money from their children and make the lives of their children like poverty. If you haven't got money wear a condom you backward jeepney drivers and stop asking your children to support you.
I was married to a filipino whose mum didn't work for 30 years knowing the family had no money. so the family were only too keen to pass the daughter off like a prostitute and then beg for a luxury lifestyle of shopping, travel, medicines, food, entertainment , gifts on my wallet...I got to the stage where i just wanted to kill these monkeys. The dad got sick and cost me thousands in hospital bills. Can't wait for the loser to die. message to filipino parents is stop robbing your children....My western parents are still working hard while these younger maggots retired decades before broke...

June 29, 2013 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally, I'm not racist towards filipinos. In America there are plenty of dumb ass people. However, filipino parents need to take a euthanisa pill if they can't support themselves or beg on the streets....God hates lazy and irresponsible people who take from others when they are healthy and can work themselves. I have alot of respect for the street vendor selling mangoes and making 100 pesos a day then the lazy ass filipino parents who stop working the moments their kids graduate from college. If you are a filipino parent reading this i hope you are ashamed of yourself and die ASAP so your children don't have to keep supporting your lazy ass

June 29, 2013 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Ina said...

Hoping and voicing out your desire for anyone to die let alone a set group of people makes you worse than a racist, Anon. A racist wouldn't be the most accurate thing to call you. More along the lines of an immoral, degenerate piece of scum.

July 8, 2013 at 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have cool parents who know how to adapt from the traditional Filipino view of parenting.

The worst thing about traditional Filipino families in general is the expectation that you'll share your resources with them without expecting thanks, and that being an elder means you can boss others older than you around with no consequence. It almost seems like a rite of passage to put up with being bossed around by others for years knowing that you'll be the bully when you're older, and that you're entitled to be treated with respect because of age.

January 18, 2014 at 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Hubert said...

True, I'm moving out of my homes next week and I haven't broken it to my parents yet. And I'm kind of reading up on how I could break it to them. And basically the reason I'm leaving is all the above. I am a 19 year old first generation Filipino in new York. I have a restaurant job that pays oh so well, in school for English education and in trying to be a writer in my 20s. Oh and I'm gay. Needless to say my parents weren't prepared to raise me.

It was great reading this, makes me know I'm not crazy. I just hope next week my parents don't think I am.

August 14, 2014 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just sent a link out to my mother. This reminds me of my father, we're not speaking at the moment because of all that you mentioned. The sad part is I dont think he will ever change.

September 23, 2014 at 7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will never change. My parents think of me as a bottomless atm machine. I sent my siblings to school and now my niece and i make sure this doesnt happen in this generation . I discarded my roaming # cos no matter how much i send every month, its always not enough. They are more concerned with impressing the neighbors than my health or well being.

March 9, 2015 at 5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never received one happy text message from my parents. It's always problems, can't even text to say hello, it's all about money and about what they can get from me. They feel so entitled eve though they didnt send me to school. I worked on my own and helped them with all their "utang" since i was 15

March 9, 2015 at 5:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hah! Reading this brings back memories -not so good ones. Currently, my Filipino parents are living with me because my youngest brother and my dad don't get along in the Philippines! they still think that since they're older that they are still the boss.... they think that their way is the right way to raise my kids which is not. My dad is mean self centered and thinks that we should be building him a house larger than the neighbor's. My mom thinks that she is flawless and her way is the only way! They threaten to go home and I am.all for it but they don't push through. They're not even grateful that no matter how much they are overbearing, I don't badmouth them in front of the grandchildren.
Living with tradition is ok but one has to adapt to current situations and they couldn't. Respect begets respect. It cannot be ordered or forced. This is not the case with most Filipino parents.

October 12, 2015 at 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything you've written here applies to me. As much as I love my parents, I hate the fact that they're giving me reasons to resent them and they should stop doing these things listed above.

June 24, 2016 at 6:26 AM  

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