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Family Customs and Practices in the Philippines That I Want To Change
The Philippines is a family-centered and community-centered country. Much value is placed on family togetherness, family obligation, conformity to society’s rules and expectations, and obedience, which in some instances is a good thing, but taken to extremes it does more harm than good.
After reflecting on these family matters, I have realized that there are a few family customs and practices in the Philippines that I do not agree with and would like to change. Keep in mind that these are simply my opinions based on my personal values and beliefs. In the end, each of us is the best judge to determine what is best for our own families.
Expecting our children to be our retirement plan.
I’ve heard people say, “It’s good to have children so there will be someone to support us financially when we’re old.” Then I look around and see people who are always living for their parents, unable to move forward with their own lives because they are chained to the past, burdened with this heavy obligation placed upon them since birth. When these people get married and have children, they unconsciously place the same burden on their kids because they think it’s normal, and the vicious cycle continues.
This has made me see the urgency of educating people to plan for retirement. We have to stop looking at our children as retirement investments! We brought them into this world by choice, therefore it is our obligation as parents to take care of our children, not the other way around.
Expecting our children to live with us forever.
While in countries like America children are expected to live on their own once they become mature enough, in the Philippines “good” children are expected to live with their parents until the day they die. If the children do assert their independence and try to leave at some point in their adult lives, they are labeled “black sheeps”. Why?
Isn’t the role of parents to nurture and train children to become self-sufficient and responsible citizens of the future? Children are not possessions that we can buy and keep with us forever, nor are they pets that we can keep caged up.
Not training our children to think for themselves.
This is the danger when too much emphasis is placed on obedience. The parents make up all the rules and children are just expected to follow blindly. If they question orders, they are punished for “talking back”. I do agree that rules are important, but the reason behind these rules need to be properly explained to children so that they understand their value and purpose. Asking them what they think about things is also a good exercise in critical thinking and judgment.
But we tend to underestimate the thinking capacity of children too much. We talk to them in a condescending or teasing tone and say things like, “They’re just kids, they won’t understand.” But they do understand!
Being overly concerned about what others might say.
I’ve observed that this is quite common. We are so afraid that our relatives and friends might think poorly of us for some reason or other. At the same time we are also quick to find fault in the lives of these same relatives and friends. As a result, parents put tremendous pressure on the children to behave according to the set norms of society.
It is impossible to please everybody! There will always be someone somewhere out there who does not agree with us. And it’s okay. We do not need to convince everyone to be the same as us nor do we have to be the same as others. We all have our own set of values and beliefs and we think, speak and act according to them. We’ll be happier if we just respected each other’s differences and not try to impose our own values and beliefs on others.
What about you?
What family customs and practices would you like to change in your country?