Women professionals who are also mothers are always struggling with an internal battle of priorities– work or home? The battle is real especially for young moms who also want to advance in their careers and raise their young children well.
On the other hand, working moms who have earned a high level of success in their careers, can also be guilty of having an unconscious predilection for creating their “mini-me”? Who could blame them? All parents want only the best for their children. They want to shield them from hurts, disappointment and failures. And as so they use their own formula for success on their children. And yet, there are others who take a step back, allow their children to pave their own roads, experience their own failures and have the freedom to find their own space, interest, voice, and purpose.
Meet the working moms who have survived the anguish, by not choosing either or, but by giving their best to both.
We spoke to five very successful women who are also mothers, and members of the INLIFE SHEROES She Inspires Circle. They have survived the anguish of choosing family or career by giving their best to both. Let’s read through as they share the ways they raised their children, integrating family life and work, and being successful in both.
How are you raising your children given your many responsibilities in managing your business and your other roles in the community?
Ace Itchon, President and CEO, Chairman of the Board, Aspen Philippines Inc.
My daughter is now a young adult who demonstrates readiness for life. She is perceptive and is always prepared to help and get involved. During her growing up years, I made sure that I devote time with her and for her, no matter how busy I was with work and other activities. I have always believed in the power of story-telling instead of dictating in transferring knowledge and training an individual. In teaching her life lessons, I was using her dad and my life story as a replacement for reading fairy tales to her at bedtime, and this kept her waiting for the continuation every night and giggled at the part when the priest officiating our wedding was saying how God created her dad and me for each other. Interspersed with the stories are life lessons. From her grade school to college years, I was telling her about the challenges from lessons, to projects, to instructors, and yes, even crushes. And again, the stories were peppered with nuggets of wisdom from experience. Now that she is shaping her own career, we share work ethics, victories, concerns, corporate politics, relationships to keep and those to leave behind moving forward, and other matters encountered at work. Many times, I could hear myself in her and at times she would refer to the lessons from stories she heard from me when she was growing up. In hindsight, I could say that there was no template applied in raising my daughter. It was more of being there for her, living a life that my mother would be proud of, and working to achieve my goals in a way that my father would proudly say “That’s my baby!”
Gina Romero, Founder and CEO, Connected Women
As any businessperson or community leader will tell you, when you feel passionately about your work it’s very easy to get caught up in it. Having responsibilities outside of work means I need to be more conscious of my focus, my energy, and making sure that I balance my time well. As parents who have worked from home for years, my husband and I try hard to set clear boundaries and keep home life and work life separate as much as we can. It doesn’t always go according to plan though! We’ve raised our kids to be sensitive to the fact that we have other responsibilities — but hopefully they always know they can approach us if they need us no matter how busy we are. I also believe that having busy parents means they have learned to be self-sufficient in many ways.
Mona Veluz, National President, Autism Society of the Phils.
My advocacy towards autism inclusion began with my eldest son who is on the spectrum. My love for him has fueled this need to help others like him. My three children, now young adults, have been my enablers and my supporters by taking on tasks independently and doing their share at home. They know that while I have responsibilities as the head of a national organization, my family is always first on my list.
Myrna Yao, President and CEO, Richprime Global, Inc.
I raised them thru quality time and organized lifestyle from their rooms, personal things, schoolwork and schedules. I show them how I’m able to manage everything thru advance planning. That is the reason we can have enough time to enjoy being with each other and share our plans together with quality time.
Rose Fausto, IFE Management Advisers
I’m happy to say that I have raised our three sons who are now all grown-up adults by being aware of the life stage I was in while they were growing up. In their early years when they needed me to be involved meaningfully in their day-to-day activities, I sort of adjusted my career work hours – from being full-time investment banker to full-time homemaker, to taking a consultancy job that allowed me to work from home. When they became grown up, I got back to spending more hours at work now as writer, speaker on money and family using Behavioral Economics principles. The wonderful thing is that, all these experiences of rearing them, together with my husband, have become my source of content, as I now share what I know with others.
As a woman who has achieved success at work, do you prepare your children to be independent and be successful like you? How? What are your aspirations for your children?
I share with her how the colors of the rainbow have become a summary of how I get to where I am now. Red: Rise above the ordinary in all circumstances. Orange: Offer value and service in whatever you do. Yellow: Yearn for continual learning, for the quest for excellence has no end, and the moment you think you are already excellent, that is the point when you actually backslide. Green: Give back and give back some more, for you have freely received everything you have only by the grace of God. Blue: Be yourself, for if you cannot be true to yourself, no one else will be. Indigo: It doesn’t matter where you came from; it matters most where you are going to. Violet: Values make Victories meaningful.
I’m always telling my kids that a big part of going to school is not just doing well academically, but exploring what they are good at and not so good at, what they enjoy most and what they enjoy less. More than anything growing up is about getting to know yourself, and learning how to navigate different relationships and challenges. Another thing I’m always telling my kids is that that they don’t have to have it all figured out right away — they have their whole lives ahead of them to explore and discover their potential. I don’t want them to feel restricted too early by making decisions before they’ve had time to be curious about what life has to offer. Of course, I want them to be successful in whatever they do, but I also want them to find their own path.
I am a mom of three young adults, and I remember being very conscious of allowing my children to fail and to work out some problems on their own. I had to learn to temper my instinct to rescue my babies for difficult situations. Instead, I talk to them about how they want to approach challenges, giving them structure and tools; but never handing them the solution. I am hoping this approach has given them the right skills and attitudes to be happy in life. Each of my children is strong willed and unique — and I have long given up on trying to create a family template. I wish for my children to find their life’s passion — sooner rather than later. I wish for them to be kind. I wish for them to be happy.
Myrna: I prepared them to be independent and have their own mind since they were small. There are times that they will insist on doing things even if I say no. However, I allow them just to teach them a lesson so they can learn from it. Thru the risk I allow them to take, I am able build their confidence in my advices and we share more things together.
Definitely. In their early school days, tutoring became a fad among their classmates. I felt that having a tutor after class hours might become a crutch to them. So I became their tutor with the goal of eventually making them do their homework on their own. My routine for them was — rest and merienda at home, homework under my supervision. No tv and video games during weekdays instead, after homework, they go to the village park and play physical games with other children. By grade 2, they were already doing their homework on their own with very little supervision from mama.
Another training they got from us is their FQ (Financial Intelligence Quotient). Right from the start, we taught them age-appropriate and easy to understand lessons on how to handle money. They were preparing their Balance Sheets since grade school. They learned to follow the basic laws of money early on. Being financially healthy is one of the pre-requisites of being independent and successful in life.
My aspirations for my children is to see them use their God-given gifts in their respective careers, for all of them to find their Ikigai (the intersection of that which they are fond of, good at, can be paid for, and what the world needs from them).
One important trait of good leaders is the ability to listen with understanding. Please share with us one thing you learned from your children through your active listening.
My daughter’s generation is deeply aware and supportive of diversity and inclusivity. I have realized this during conversations with her. She feels strongly against judgmental comments about LGBTQ or racist comments.
One thing I’ve learned is that even from a very young age children have their own minds and their own opinions. In our family, everyone is entitled to their opinion and we put a lot of weight on personal responsibility, especially in decision making. As soon as our kids were able to make decisions, we started giving them choices. Even simple things like, would they like this or that for dinner, or which movie would they like to watch, or what time would they like to do their homework over the weekend. Raising children with strong opinions has taught me that being a parent doesn’t mean I’m always right! It’s easy to assume that age and experience means we know better, and that certainly isn’t always the case. I’ll often ask my kids for their opinion about something that seems quite complex, only to find that they have nuggets of wisdom to share.
My son on the spectrum, when he was younger, tended to have meltdowns. Because he could not express himself well then, not only did I have to listen; but I had to train myself to be more observant of stressors, antecedent events, sensory triggers. For many, behavior is in itself a way to communicate; and that was a valuable learning I was able to apply to managing organizations and people.
Myrna: Now that they are grown up and helping me run the Companies I built. I listen to them more when it come to their expertise like investments, Digital Communication esp in new Business Projects, corporate organization, HR concerns and New Business Ventures.
We raised our children to be critical thinkers, and that needed active listening. Early on, each one was encouraged to express his thoughts and beliefs. This was not always easy as it involved disagreements and arguments, sometimes even challenging authority. We just had to set the rules of engagement. From them, I learned to always value the opinion of others, even if they don’t agree with mine. From them I learned that no matter how similarly you grew up together, you may end up with different positions on different things, and that is not bad but may actually enrich your family.
The InLife Sheroes She Inspires Circle is a growing community of successful women leaders who have made significant impact in their field, and to nation-building.
InLife Sheroes program is the advocacy of Insular Life to empower Filipino women. The aim is to help women become self-reliant and financially independent, through four focus areas – Financial Education and Risk Management, Health and Wellness, Women Specific Solutions, and Access to Business and Social Networks. For more information visit www.inlifesheroes.com.ph