Last Sunday we had a video shoot for our Family FQ Workshop in Iriga City scheduled on September 6, 2015. That’s right, the Fausto family is going to the land of Superstar Ate Guy. This is being arranged by Beam and Go, an online platform that helps OFWs have some control in their pera padala by sending specific gift certificates so that when the hardworking OFW sends money supposedly for the medicine of lolo, the money won’t be spent on a new cellphone or other things.
After the shoot, Beam and Go co-founder,Mariliese Tan sent me a note saying, “Thanks for spending your Sunday afternoon with us. We enjoyed meeting your boys. When I have kids, I wish they would be as smart, filial and financially savvy as they are.” Thrilled to read her message, I shared it with the boys. They said, “Wow! Filial!”
This, plus meeting successful adults who remain very devoted to their parents have made me reflect on the importance of this adjective filial. The word comes from the Latin words filius(which means son) and filia(daughter). The word filial is defined as “of or due from a child,” meaning to say, obligation or duty of the offspring to the parent. Filial piety, which is very Confucian in philosophy, is the virtue of respect for one’s parents and elders.
In our predominantly Christian country, we are expected to “Honor thy father and mother.” And we always address our parents with respect. We even address our parents’ friends as Titos and Titas. In our places of work, we address our superiors as Ma’am and Sir, Mr. and Miss, or Boss.
Fast changing times have made our concept of filial piety evolve. For one, we have been told to allow our children to express their feelings. Some have gone to the extreme of being friends with their kids, even allowing their youngsters to call them by their first names. Ugh!
The concept of filial obligation becomes even more challenging when the children become adults and start raising their own families. Up to what extent can the parents continue to act as parents? Up to what extent are the children expected to take care of their parents?
I admire the Chinese Filipino families in the sense that they are clear on their expectations from each other on this matter. I think the oldest son is expected to take care of the parents, which means that the daughter-in-law will be the homemaker of the house taking care of the aging parents of the husband. Wow, quite a challenge! But at least, they already know what to expect.
In the Filipino family set-up, it’s usually the oldest daughter, the Ate, who’s expected to take care of the aging parents. That’s why when Marvin and I decided to just have three sons, we always got this remark, “Naku, kailangan nyong anak na babae, walang mag-aalaga sa inyo, pag tanda nyo!” But we always felt that it’s not the gender that matters.
I grew up hearing my mother say that parents have an obligation to take care of their children while growing up, but children don’t have an obligation to their parents. However, we saw her being devoted to her own parents in their old age, so we also grew up believing that even if it’s not the children’s obligation, it is still the noble thing to do, to take care of your parents in their old age. Now maybe that was my mom’s plan, not to oblige us, but to receive our love and care on a voluntary basis. Come to think of it, it is so much sweeter to receive that filial piety from your children when it is not imposed but given freely.
So how do we raise filial children in this time and age?
- Love them. There is no other way to beget love than to give love. While they’re growing up, shower them with love expressions using the love language that suits them.
- Respect them. Even if they are our children, they are not merely our extensions. Allow them to be their own selves. Address them courteously and they will remember to do this to you and to others. Train them to always speak respectfully and make them understand that being respectful of others is being respectful of oneself.
- Raise them to be compassionate. Give them opportunities to empathize with others, both old and young people.
- Don’t spoil them. In trying so hard to make our children happy, we may err on the extreme of spoiling them. A spoiled child will grow up thinking that he’s the center of the universe and will not sacrifice for the sake of others. And that may include you when you’re old.
- Teach them their proper place. You are not equals. You are the parent who has a say in how things should be run at home, your home. I remember when the boys were young and we introduced the rule No TV on weekdays. We deliberated upon it, allowed them to argue their points, but when it came to voting, our vote of 2 (i.e. No TV on weekdays) overruled their vote of 3.
- Set your rules clearly. Sometimes a lot of disagreements and arguments stem from lack of clear understanding of house rules. Set your rules and explain the reason for the rule, then come up with consequences when they’re broken. This is very important for young kids.
- Push them to their maximum potential but always remind them that your love remains unconditional. This is one of the parenting challenges we face. Up to what extent to do you push them to succeed Tiger Mom? Or do you allow them to just be chill because you’re too scared to put too much pressure? While my sons were growing up, I was their tutor so I knew their academic capabilities. I emphasized cheering them on for effort and they almost always delivered! In instances when they didn’t, I made it a point to remind them that the love we have for them is not a function of the honors and awards that they bring home. And this is more easily understood by kids when you’ve already “deposited enough in their love tanks.” I see a handful of adult children who feel that their parents’ love and approval are only based on their success, and this is not going to earn them a freely given filial piety in the end.
- Have a healthy sense of sacrifice. There’s a delicate balance between sacrificing for the sake of your children and neglecting your own needs. If you keep doing this, your children will grow up believing that their needs come on top of anyone else’s. This is a huge contributor to the feeling of entitlement most kids have these days. I was really careful about this when I became a full-time homemaker. I was always on the lookout for sacrifices that may not be worth it. An example I remember is this. Among the benefits of being a full-time mom is hearing your children’s stories fresh out of school, so at first I was fetching them from their school. But with the horrible traffic plus my usual prolonged waiting in the hot fetching area because my energetic boys almost always lost track of time playing with friends, releasing all their energy after sitting in class for several hours, I realized that I had to tweak this daily grind. So I decided to just wait at home. This way, I could still do other things while waiting for them instead of harboring anger in my heart while waiting. When they got home, I was ready to welcome them with a happy mood, the better I could listen to their stories while we ate our merienda together. My guideline is this: Never sacrifice to the point that you end up resenting the recipient of your sacrifice.
- Don’t play favorites. People always say parents have favorites. The truth is parents love them all the same. But you see, children have different temperaments and so do parents, so we can’t avoid having a child that we are most compatible with in certain activities or stages in our lives. Maybe try to act super fairly while they’re very young. Then as they grow old, you can articulate that you like this and that trait of this and that child, so you’d rather be with him in certain occasions. But that doesn’t mean that you love the others any less.
- Be big on traditions. Traditions define what a family stands for. They’re also opportunities for you to celebrate each other and show unity in the family. This is a good training ground for filial children. When your children start complaining about seemingly useless and meaningless traditions, especially the ones that you yourself just inherited and not so happy with anymore, try discussing it and finding ways how to tweak them so they become meaningful to you again.
- Don’t substitute your presence with presents. Developing filial piety in your children takes lots of time. We cannot expect our children to become devoted kids when we were not around them while they were growing up. Chances are, if you lavished them with material things to compensate for your perennial absence, they might just do the same when you’re old and longing for their company.
- Live a great, respectable and interesting life. You don’t only set the right example to your children, but you would continue to make great company for them even when they’re already old and busy raising their own families. You will not be a burden to visit but a great source of insights, advice and fun company.
You may have other ways in mind. You’re welcome to share them here. If there’s one single parenting philosophy that seems to tie all the above, it’s the old adage that we should always remember, “What you sow is what you reap.”
- Today is Araw Ng Wika, and for the entire month of August, Buwan ng Wika, we have a promo to deliver your book order for FREE to any address in the Philippines! This is for a minimum of 3 copies of Ang Muling Pagsasalaysay ng Ang Pinakamayamang Tao sa Babilonya which is only 150 each. Click Pls deliver my books for free!
3. I will speak at the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations on August 22, 2015 at the DLSU, Taft Ave. at 3pm together with my son Martin. We will discuss financial literacy before an audience of young entrepreneurs, graduate and undergraduate students from US, Europe, South America and Asia.
4. You may be interested to watch Ang Tatlong Yugto; Tatlong Babae – a play by Liza Magtoto, which features a story of 3 women and their journey through life on August 28, 2015 at 2pm at the GSP 901 Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila.
5. The Family FQ Workshop by the Faustos goes to Iriga City on September 6, 2015! This is being arranged by Beam and Go, an online platform that caters to OFWs and others who support their families in an affordable and transparent way.
Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon. Her new book is the Filipino version of the latter entitled Ang Muling Pagsasalaysay ng Ang Pinakamayamang Tao sa Babilonya. Click this link to read samples of the books. Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is also the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards.
Attribution: Photos taken for Family FQ Workshop goes to Iriga City, images from moonfest.com.sg and mysinschew.com put together by the author to help deliver the message of the article..
This article is also published in PhilStar.com and RaisingPinoyBoys.com.