“It’s the Design, S…Sweetie!”  (Behavioral Economics for Parenting)

“It’s the Design, S…Sweetie!” (Behavioral Economics for Parenting)

Jun 01, 2016

Recently this mom has been treated to “warm caresses on her heart.” What do I mean? We all love our children and think they are the best, right? But when other people notice how good your kids are, it’s a huge bonus! When the great preacher in blue jeans Bo Sanchez and wife Marowe, the wind beneath Bo’s wings, asked us to lunch because they “want to learn how we raised our sons” (Bo’s words), it was a major palakpak tenga for Marvin and me!

Last Monday night we also had dinner with On The Money anchor and owner of TMA Homeschool Edric Mendoza and wife Joy, a successful blogger mom. During our conversation, they also asked us to share how we raised our sons.

Left: Lunch with Bo & Marowe Sanchez, parents of 2 boys; Right: Dinner with Edric & Joy Mendoza, parents of 3 boys and 2 girls.
Left: Lunch with Bo & Marowe Sanchez, parents of 2 boys; Right: Dinner with Edric & Joy Mendoza, parents of 3 boys and 2 girls.

Our sons are Martin, Enrique and Anton. We refer to them as God’s greatest gifts to us and our greatest gifts to this world. 🙂

The author’s sons left to right – Enrique (2nd son), Martin (1st son), Anton (3rd son)
                                     The author’s sons left to right – Enrique (2nd son), Martin (1st son), Anton (3rd son)

Martin, 26, is now on his own, doing brand and image consulting, and coaching via his own outfit called Brand’eM. Enrique, 23, who just passed his CFA level 1 test, is now an Assistant Manager at the Treasury Department of a bank. Anton, 19, is a college sophomore who also does hosting on the side. It’s hard for me to single out what’s special about them. I’m too biased to answer that. What’s probably most known about them, aside from their dancing skills, is their being investors as they are all Mama’s go-to secondary speakers when the need arises, and are the subject of my talks, book and this column.

What I’m really happy about now is the confidence that I have that they would be alright. Of course I still worry about them from time to time but that’s okay because our top child psychologist Dr. Honey Carandang said, “Parents are naturally always worried about their children!” I know they would still stumble and get their share of life’s failures and heartaches but somehow I have peace of mind that they’d be able to overcome them, with or without Mama & Papa’s help. I remain excited about what’s in store for them.

“It’s the design, S…Sweetie!”

Bill Clinton’s campaign slogan “It’s the economy, Stupid!” was successful in his presidential bid against the senior Bush because it clearly pointed out what was important to the voters at that time, a time of recessions.

When I am asked what makes parenting successful, I say it’s the design or the structure… and since no bad words are allowed in front of children, let’s use a nicer S word. “It’s the design, Sweetie!”

What do I mean by that? Let’s start by stating the obvious that all parents want the best for their children. Somehow, we know the basic rules of parenting, just as we know the basic rules of money and health. But the devil is in the details. The challenge is in being able to consistently apply the rules. The challenge is in self-control, discipline, inability to see the long-term effects vs. the present temptation. This is essentially applying Behavioral Economics in parenting. I would define this as the fusion of Economics, Psychology and Parenting and coming up with the design of least resistance in recognition that most of the time “the mind is willing but the body is weak.”

And that is why I suggest that parents should be deliberate in designing their parenting. Be purposeful parents. When my sons were still in the early grades Fr. Johnny Go, then the president of Xavier School, said, “In Xavier we want our students to experience learning by design. We don’t want the learning to be limited only to those who are smart, diligent and disciplined. We want it for all our students!”

Those words struck me big time and I was raring to design our parenting in such a way that it will be difficult for our kids not to be great! Of course I was a young ambitious mother. I had a project name for our parenting in mind: Excelling by Design! And throughout these years, with the help of my husband, we tried our best to structure our parenting in a way that they would all grow up to their maximum potential, happy and productive citizens.

Children are complex creations of God and it’s hard to see all the facets of their personalities if there is no one looking on a day-to-day basis, in an observant and loving way. This was the very reason I decided to give up my investment banking career. I knew early on that my work wouldn’t allow me to be meaningfully involved in their day-to-day lives while still thriving in my career. At least not for me because I knew early on that I wasn’t a Superwoman (just a SuperMom! 🙂 ) so that’s a major aspect of our parenting design.

Attached to that is the reality that no matter how open minded we now are in our society, it is still easier if it were the man working and the mother taking care of the children at home. I’m not saying that it can’t be done the other way around, but it’s just easier to do it the traditional way. My husband is also the first to say that this design (i.e. my being a full time homemaker) also greatly helped our marriage.

Family dinner at home was also an important design. Up to this day we spend considerable time talking at the dinner table. This is the time when the day’s highs and lows are shared on a regular basis. With schedule challenges plus traffic, this becomes a luxury for most families but its importance is so great so please schedule at least once or twice a week.

Homework design was very important. I was their tutor and we stumbled upon numerous hits and misses along the way. But I was there, tried my best to be positive about it despite my occasional impatience and we survived. In fact, we thrived! It was soon after a quick rest and merienda coming home from school, inside our library where we all had designated desks. The built-in reward was to be able to go to the park right across our house once the work was done. Since no TV and computer games were allowed on weekdays, it helped in their physical fitness, not to mention social skills development as they were lucky to have their respective “batchmate-friends” in the village. My tutoring also had a term limit – up to Grade 2 only. By Grade 3 they were independent, just right for the time when the younger brother enters Prep in a big school, the start of serious homework. This way the tutor-mom was not stressed. Little did I know that our three-year gap had an important purpose! 🙂

Honors and awards were celebrated and aspired for because doing one’s best and excelling is the reward itself and not because of external prizes dangled every start of the school year. I read that external rewards ruin the innate love for learning so we did away with this. However, when they grew older in high school and college, Marvin once in a while would give them rewards to add some spice to the effort and accomplishment, “Wow! You got the highest? What does my son want? Name it!” Today he still does that to them like last Sunday when Anton beat him in the Financial Fun Race, the prize was a pair of new shoes!

Whenever there is triumph or failure I would always review what’s in the structure of our parenting, our environment and the prevailing circumstances. It wasn’t a deliberate written review all the time but more of not passing the blame on anyone else. If no honor for this period, it was never the teacher’s fault, if you didn’t win in the competition, it was never nadaya tayo! (Hmmm… this reminds me of those crying fraud even without proof in the recent elections!) We are free to express frustrations, anger, etc. among ourselves but there is always an inward assessment of what could have been done better. We try to do the same when we welcome triumphs. Somehow this helped us refine the design in our family life as we apply the same in the other aspects.

There are so many more interesting design ideas that I recall now like their impromptu programs by our bay window seat before bedtime where they sang and danced and recited poems. We encouraged them to talk to adults, even as simple as ordering their own food in restaurants. I guess these are some of the structures that made all of them good performers, speakers and dancers. Walang mahiyain sa mga anak ko! 🙂

Bedtime prayer together, which we do until now, reciting together a child’s prayer before our current intentions and thanksgiving is another one. This keeps us informed and involved in each other’s current struggles and triumphs. The other details of our parenting design including circumcision, bullying, sound marriage, belief in God, family goal setting, and of course their High FQ upbringing, with all the Balance Sheet and investing at a young age,are all chronicled in my first book Raising Pinoy Boys. 

Are we always successful? Of course not, but we continue to review and tweak and celebrate.

For the meantime, I wish to ask you, “How are your kids so far? How’s your parenting so far? How are you?” If parenting has become too tiring and frustrating, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong. Not with you or your kids because really, “It’s the design, Sweetie!”



The series of workshops of Security Bank’s Smart Saver Kiddie Camp continues. Talk 3 will be on June 1, 9:30 am at Pegi Waffles, P. Guevarra St., San Juan.


The next talk will be at the Kiddopreneur at Shangri-la Mall on June 26, 2016. Watch out for the next schedules of this Workshop Series.

Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter &Instagram as theFQMom. 

ATTRIBUTIONS:Images from familylawmatters.com.au, photo from Edric Mendoza, the rest from author. Family photo by Paul Del Rosario.