Friday, June 13, 2008

Different Parenting Styles for Different Generations?

Being both Chinese and Filipino, I am bombarded on both sides on advices on parenting. It just gets to be plain confusing at times! I'm sure it was even more confusing during my mother's time, when she had no option but to listen. Nowadays, we have more information sources, including the internet, so we can make researches about what's right and what's not.

Anyway, here goes.

Things my parents did that I would definitely still follow:

  • Teach kids the love and respect for one another, for the elders and for other people in general. I think this transcends cultures and generations. But I guess Asians are stricter when it comes to this. I find it shocking for people to show disrespect, especially for elders. Remember, we are all going to grow old someday.
  • Taught the value of money. All the money we got from Chinese New Year (ang paos) were in my mother's safekeeping. She then helped us open bank accounts. She didn't want us to spend all that money. That all worked out for the best.
  • Send kids to a good school which puts a premium on values formation. The school should be a partner of parents not only in teaching academics, but also in instilling the right values. It helps a lot if the values of the parents and the school are in sync, because both complement each other. That's what happened to us, hence I believe that we have a strong moral backbone. And I want that for my kid/s.
  • Let my kids learn Chinese. And Filipino and English, of course. More languages is always an advantage, but it's especially good to know the language of your forebears. If my kid/s want to learn more languages, GREAT!
  • Limit TV time. We grew up knowing that on school days, we were only allowed about 30 minutes of TV time (that was the time of Voltes V and Mazinger Z, when news came on, we have to stop TV). Eventually, we did not watch TV during school days unless there was really something special on. TV was for weekends. It helped that the TV was in my parent's room, which was off limits when they were not around. :)
  • Let kids study on their own with minimal supervision. My mom never really had to tutor us. We had the initiative to study on our own. And we got decent grades. I really could not understand why almost all students need tutors nowadays. I really hope I get to achieve this and not eat my words later.
  • My mom is a working mom but I never felt neglected during my growing up years. I would like to achieve the same thing.
Things I did differently:
  • I breastfed. For 1 year and 10 1/2 months. I will continue to do so for any future kids I might have. I was a bottle fed baby, as were my siblings. I do not blame my mother, though, because that was the orientation during the seventies, that bottlefeeding is somehow better. Even dolls come with feeding bottles. It really seemed natural at the time. But I've since learned that breast is best.
  • I co-sleep. We slept in cribs when we were younger. Nothing wrong in that. I thought I would do that too and bought a crib. But since my son got sick and we both found comfort in co-sleeping, it stuck!
  • I did not force toilet training at an early age. This one I am at two minds about. When you do readings, you will find that some people advocate early toilet learning. Others would want to wait for signs of readiness. I really do not know if I'm doing the right thing. As of now, it feels as if my son will be in diapers forever, but of course I know that's not the case.
Things I would do differently:
  • Allow my kids to voice their own views and opinions. My parents are the products of a more authoritarian parent age. Although they were already more open minded than their own parents, there are times when they do the parent card and want us to do things just because they said so or they want it that way. Frankly, for a small child, that is still okay, even good. But not for a mother in her late thirties! I sometimes feel that I am quite overruled in my decisions. But I know they only have my best interests at heart. For my kids, however, I'd prefer that they voice out their own views, opinions and concerns, and I'll listen. I may not agree, but I will listen and we can discuss the matter.
  • Teach my son/s to cook, launder, sew and other women's jobs. Let my husband teach my daughter/s to do repairs, change a flat tire and other men's jobs. In my parent's time, and even up to now, some jobs are classified as men's jobs and some as women's jobs. So, my mother never taught my brothers to cook and even discourage them to hold a needle and thread, since in the Chinese culture, it is considered unseemly for men to sew. I do think that times are changing and everybody should know a little bit of everything, so that we do not have to be too reliant on other people. Also, some men are very good in what are considered traditional women's jobs, while some women are very good in what are considered men's jobs.
  • Teach my kids to invest at an early age. Well, investing is always difficult. But starting to invest at an earlier age would mean a lot more time to be more aggressive, and a lot of time to recover from mistakes. I want to teach my kid/s more about financial literacy. Of course, investing was trickier during my parent's time. Now there are many options for investing, and with the advent of the internet, it is much simpler.
This is all I can think of for now. I'm sure there are lots more. My conclusion is that there are a lot of good in what our parents taught us and I am eternally grateful. But times are a-changing and we need to be able to adjust to the times. During our parents' childhood, not everybody has a TV. Now we have TVs, playstations, etc. It's different raising a kid then and now but we have to rise to the challenge as parents.
This is my entry to the 3rd edition of the Pinoy Parenting Blog Carnival, which I am hosting at my other blog, The Working Mom.