Why: The Filipino Mom

I have received many direct messages (DMs) about my blog name: The Filipino Mom.

“Why would you want to name yourself that?”

“When I think of a Filipino mom, I think of all the typical things Filipino moms do – passive aggressive commentary, no boundaries, and inappropriate conversations.”

This is exactly why I decided to call my blog – The Filipino Mom.

 Just as I want to break the stigma around mental health, I wanted to change the narrative around this title. As a first generation Filipino American, I don’t have the same mannerisms and boundaries as my mom. Now before you become really defensive about that last statement, hear me out. The generational beliefs and cultural differences between my mom and I were sizable. We disagreed on almost everything under the sun. 

To see how different our views are I have created a table for comparison. Please keep in mind that these are my view and my mom’s views. They do not reflect all immigrant mom and 1st generation Filipino Mom’s views. These were the big topics that we disagreed on when I was growing up. So much so that I decided as an adult, that I would be a little more open to my kids’ opinions and views. 

Immigrant mom1st gen Fil-Am mom
Talking about feelingsNo talking about feelings, stuff them downOpen to talk through feelings
ChoresOldest daughter must do choresEvenly distribute chores between all children
Meal servingServe everyone their plates and spoon feed the younger kids Allow everyone make their own plates and allow the younger kids to feed themselves even if they get messy
CollegeMust go to a university
Has a choice of university, vocation college, or specialized schooling
Tattoos and piercingsOnly for gang members and drug addictsOpen to both
Make upNo make up Ok with wearing lip gloss in middle school. Full face of make up in high school
CareerChooses occupation for childAllows child to make decision on their occupation

Conversations with my mom and mother-in-law

I have had numerous conversations with my mom and mother-in-law about how our parenting styles are very different. At the beginning of my motherhood journey, I struggled with how I would parent my kids. However, I knew I wanted to give my kids a little more freedom and decisions than I wasn’t allowed at their age. 

Most times, as my kids grew older and older, my mom would tell me that I was pretty hard on my kids and that I should really give them less chores. She dubbed me “the military mom” with how we kept a strict daily routine and ensured they always used their manners. My rebuttal was that they all need to learn how to do everyday tasks so they won’t be so lost as adults. I have kept with this same belief for the past 19 years and I am happy to report that my mom now sees why I gave everyone chores. It allowed me to not do all of the domestic duties and gave my kids more knowledge of what life will be like when they grow up. 

The most recent conversation I had with my mom was around the time of my kids’ birthdays. The older kids are born on the same day, two years apart. She called that morning to wish them a happy birthday and asked how life has been with teens. I told my mom that it has been a little bit of a struggle but they are far more well behaved and obedient than I was at their age. At their age, I had already ran away from home, had a boyfriend, and had been a generally rebellious child. My mom said something that I will never forget – “Anak (baby), you are doing and did a great job. You have great kids.” The moment she said that, tears welled up in my eyes. I knew compliments were few and far between from immigrant parents. So the fact that my mom said that I nearly lost it as I picked up the cakes for that evening. She also eased my anxiety of what would happen to my kids when they became young adults and told me that they would be ok because they are great people. “Thanks mom” – again I teared. 

Never letting them fall

When my girls grew into teenagers I had a really interesting conversation with my mother-in-law. She stated that she didn’t want anything bad to happen to her kids so she wanted to protect them as much as possible. Moreover, she was very naive to all of the activities American teenagers were into. Looking back, she has told me that she wishes that she was more open to understanding why teenagers and young adults in America were indulging in certain things. It was the hardest part of parenting for her. As the mother of her granddaughters, she has asked many times if I was scared to parent teenagers girls. I told her that I had a general sense of how it was to be a teenager so I could sympathize with them. I also talked about how I was ok with them learning lessons from their mistakes because sometimes when you have a stubborn child (aka ME) they need to learn life the hard way. This concept really took her by surprise. It was hard for her to grasp that fact that I was ok with my kids learning from their mistakes but I knew that I had taught them right from wrong and they would have to learn how to move through life making their own choices. Is this hard? Absolutely, we are living it now as my oldest is getting ready to graduate high school.

Blending the two

I have learned, as an adult, that my parents parented us in a state of survival. They came to a foriegn land in hopes to give themselves and their children a better life and opportunities. It was hard for them to navigate how to assimilate to an individualism culture when they grew up in a collectivism culture. So they struggled. We butt heads. We fought a lot. The clash, I’ve learned, is more about a generational gap than being disobedient and misunderstandings.

So I have blended the parenting styles of my parents, my in laws; and my husband and I. This has allowed us to keep the general foundation of collectivism as well as give our kids the opportunity to be individuals. It hasn’t been easy blending the two because I still revert back to how my parents parented me. Yes I have turned into a blend of my parents. My kids have confirmed it many times.

I pray that when my kids start to have their families they will take the parenting styles from all of us and create a parenting style that works for them because they won’t be in a survival mentality. They will be well adjusted 2nd generation Filipino-American who know the sky’s the limit how they would like to build their life because it is their life to live.

My parents did the best they could with the knowledge and belief systems that they possessed. Now that I’ve kids of my own, I understand that because I, too, am parenting the best way I know how. It is not always perfect but I am trying my best.

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