The grandparent factor
We live just a few streets away from both sets of my kids’ grandparents, and my husband Jason and I are glad about it. The support we receive is unwavering, seamless and unconditional, and our children get to enjoy a strong, normal relationship with them.
I often bring my 6-year-old Jack for a quick visit to his grandparents’ homes on our way from school. They give him food (treats we try not to indulge in daily), bubble gum (done stealthily), and unlimited gadget time.
If, in the past, my mother won’t hesitate to call the attention of a misbehaving child in a restaurant, now she just laughs at naughty antics or clumsy accidents. My kids are always excited to see their “Gamma” and I’ve never seen her smile so much.
My 71-year-old father transforms into a magician and enthusiastic playmate when his apo are around, just like he did some 30-odd years ago. And the children’s eyes mirror mine as we see him as the all-powerful superman they get to call “Gampa.”
Still, familiarity breeds contempt and friction is unavoidable. In such moments, I always try to remember that all we want is what’s best for the children.
It is said that when grownup children start to raise their own families, they turn into their parents. Can I say that I’ve morphed into my mom or dad?
Erika Claveria Santos, 32, and mother of three, admitted she has become like her own parents. “Unconsciously, we do, because of the time spent with them and the influence they had on us while we were growing up,” she explained.
“In my case, it’s worrying about the smallest things and becoming too protective or sensitive in handling the kids. I sometimes overthink any potential harm.”
Rose Ann Gatpolintan-Perez, 40, and mom of two, agreed. “I do see my mother in me,” she said. “I am also a disciplinarian. Sometimes, my girls call me a ‘mean mom.’ I have a lot of rules at home. They are required to finish their responsibilities before they get their privileges. I expect them to always do their best in school and be on their best behavior at all times, before we reward them with anything they want.
“And, yes, unfortunately, just like my mama, when I get super mad, I yell. But I am the mellow version of my mama. I do not spank my kids or pinch them. I make them face the wall and take away their privileges (like the allowance for my
9-year-old, and TV and iPad or phone time for both of my kids) when necessary.”
What do you appreciate about how you were brought up?
Santos: “My mom and dad’s patience to invest in our education and learning. They helped us with our schoolwork. They taught us to research and look up new words in the dictionary. These helped me realize that I would have to do things on my own, too, and not rely on them for everything.”
Perez: “I appreciate the discipline and strictness of my parents back then, how they taught us to never live beyond our means. While I don’t like the spanking, I do believe that, somehow, it helped my siblings and me become good and responsible adults—maybe because after the punishments, my mother would make us understand why we were punished, that there are consequences for certain actions.”
What practices are you glad are not in vogue anymore?
Santos: “When I was young, communicating your feelings to your parents was too ‘mushy.’ Today’s families are more expressive instead of leaving things to assumption. I’m glad I’m now able to chat with my parents and tell them I love them, to ask questions or explain my feelings when we disagree. It may seem like talking back to your parents, but speaking up helps keep conflicts from becoming bigger.”
Perez: “I am glad that heavy punishments, like the use of belts, wooden sticks, brooms or slippers to spank kids, and having them kneel on monggo beans or salt, are not in vogue anymore. While it may have worked for some, I feel that it may not be as effective on today’s kids. I am also glad that kids today can freely talk and reason with us. I like how my kids are able to communicate and be showy with their affection to us and their grandparents. This was not the case when I was a kid.”
What practices do you feel are lacking in today’s parenting?
Santos: “Nothing. I think parenting has improved over the years. With the abundance of information, parents these days have an advantage as to what parenting practices they want to follow. It’s just a matter of focusing on a certain parenting style, incorporating the positive practices you had growing up and sticking to them.”
Perez: “Perhaps we lack firmness and consistency when it comes to discipline. I feel that my husband and I are a little soft sometimes and end up giving in to our girls’ requests when it comes to privileges and food choices. I am very strict but I try to balance things out, too, that is why we give in sometimes.
“Parenting today is much more challenging due to technology. Kids are exposed to all kinds of gadgets and instant gratification, and these can be extra challenging to handle. I try to limit gadget use, but my
9-year-old sometimes needs it for school. When the younger one sees that ate is using the gadget, she demands her fair share, so I let her—giving them more than the allowed gadget use for the day.
“I also feel that, sometimes, we make things too easy for them. We tend to be overprotective, which I feel takes away their independence.”
Do you get into disagreements with your parents/in-laws regarding raising your kids?
Santos: “I do, at times. But they all eventually get straightened out with my husband Pat mediating our concerns and my parents’ frustrations.”
Perez: “No, we don’t really get into disagreements. We have different styles of raising kids, but they respect how we do it with our girls. It’s funny now, how my mother tells me to calm down and control my temper when I get really mad at Ameya and Nia.
“In our time, mom was way scarier. She tells me, though, that she doesn’t want me to become like her, only the better version. She also advises me on how to handle each kid, to talk to them more often and process things that need to be corrected right away.”
What would you advise new parents?
Santos: “Find pleasure in raising your children with a lot of love, patience and understanding. Remember that one day we will have to lessen our control on our children’s lives and let them take it from there. For now, it is important to impart basic values and appreciate the importance of how we choose to parent our kids so they can survive and be independent.”
Perez: “The key to raising good kids is balance. Be firm but still loving, be protective but allow them to make their own mistakes. Parenting is very difficult. There are times when we don’t really know if we are doing the right thing. That’s why it’s great to have our parents around. We need their wisdom and experience to help us see things clearly and to guide us.
“We can continue to do the things we believe our parents did right for us, and then
add our own spin on it. Always pray to God to be with your family, so that you can be the best parents for your kids.”
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