As a Filipina mother in an intercultural home, our experiences with raising our children can differ significantly from how we were raised in the Philippines.
When our children start to seek out their own identity, we are confronted with the fact that their way of maturing is very different from ours – from the way they define freedom, their technological adeptness, their languages, spoken or otherwise, their way of dressing and the way they interact with older people, including us.
In Western countries, growing children, especially teenagers are majorly influenced by new technologies that they often use to create social circles and define themselves outside their homes.
Having mixed blood children means a combination of two or more strong characters of both parents. There will be times these characters will challenge the values that were instilled on us by our own parents and our culture.
Cultural and generation gaps
If you noticed, modern generation and cultural gaps are directly proportional to rapid cultural changes, from fashion to politics. To be able to relate more with our children, we need to learn to adapt to these cultural changes as well but without losing our own values and identity.
We can’t avoid situations where our values and theirs will clash. It can be difficult to deal with these situations but if we analyze it deeper, sometimes the problem only lies in cultural and generation gap.
Some familiar circumstances that can lead to conflict between us are:
– when children are not allowed to stay out late
– when parents interfere with their choice of friends
– imposing of clothes to wear and many other “don’ts”
– frequent yelling to let one’s stand to be heard
– when children breaks the border of family rules
– when lies and disrespect become part of the conflict
Dealing with it
From my personal experience, it is best to encourage our growing children to be open to us. Being an excessive disciplinarian can backfire and may encourage children, especially teenagers, to be insecure and secretive.
Learn to be in tune with the emotions hidden in their body languages. Sometimes it also helps if we are honest to them and ask our children what they want to communicate with these body languages because we don’t understand it.
Set house rules and consequences if they broke family rules then you can remove Internet connection or sequester their gadgets until they apologize and understand why these family rules are important. For example: if teens arrive home fifteen minutes late at your evening-out rule, then take off one day of internet or gadget. They can get back the Internet access at home or any gadget if they cook a meal or clean toilet or help you in doing chores. Giving them tasks is a way to learn what responsibility and commitment mean. Teaching them on wise handling of money and self-reliant attitude is a must.
Update yourself with net lingo terms www.netlingo.com if not you’ll be in abstract mode deciphering their codified conversations like 5FS, 404, AFPOE, YODO, YOLO, ALOTBSOL, DDG and other acronyms.
Share our culture with them and let them understand the differences in traditions, economic situations and values between their country of residence and the Philippines. Explain to them how we are different and how our values and behaviours were developed and tell them to absorb the good side of both cultures.
Be flexible and learn to accept their modern ways as long as it does not cross the line between respect and freedom.
On conflicting moral views, bridge gap with honest, open communication respecting each other’s age, feelings and views. Encourage our growing children to embrace the positive strong qualities, values and character of both cultures: theirs and ours. Emphasize on respect, honestly, compassion and understanding.
On religion, it is best to explain to your children your own beliefs but also encourage them to study other religious beliefs so that they can decide for themselves which one they want to follow.
Despite our age and cultural gaps, as parents of our modern, intercultural children, we can still thrive together with an open mind, an understanding heart and upright soul.
Ana Angelica van Doorn, also known by her pen name Angelica Hopes, is a Filipina writer and poet living in the Netherlands. She has lived in Lugano, Switzerland before moving to her new home. Her book Rhythm of a Heart, Music of a Soul can be purchased from Amazon or directly from her website www.angelicahopes.com