by Jasmine Sadang
It is common for parents and families to have differing judgments and beliefs from their children. However, these varying viewpoints can cause barriers and misconceptions that create tension and resentment within their relationships.
Four Filipino millennials from Hawaii share their experience on what it was like having differing life perspectives than the older generation Filipinos in their families.
Angelynne Utleg, a 26-year-old Waipahu local, expressed some things that she disagreed with in a Filipino household.
“For one, infants are often raised by family members, such as grandparents, cousins or aunties for extended periods,” she said.
“These children are given specific responsibilities at a young age due to their gender; females would have less dominating roles, such as cooking or cleaning and weren’t allowed to take on ‘masculine’ tasks. Above all, these children are raised to never talk back or have opposing opinions against their elders.”
Utleg said these traditional ways of teaching can disrupt a child’s ability to grow or open up to their parents or other family members.
“Children are raised to act or be a certain way that they have difficulties expressing their personal feelings and are often left repressed. Many of us learn to accept the way it is because disrespecting our family is a thing you should not do,” Utleg said.
Kapolei millennial Rosie Mallari had similar experience to Utleg. The 25-year-old said:
“Parents are always making their child feel like they owe them something because they brought them into the world – putting into their child’s mind that they need a good-paying job to be successful in order to take care of them since they took care of them for years.”
She admits that having a lack of freedom created a strain between her and her parents.
“To my parents, going out too much in their eyes was disrespectful to them and embarrassing as a female to go out a lot,” Mallari said. “On my end, I saw it as no problem and enjoying my youth, causing a large strain in our relationship being younger.”
Another Filipino millennial from Ewa Beach shared his struggles with feeling trapped in his parents’ judgment.
Gleyfor Rosal said, “My parents were micromanaging my life growing up as a kid. How I should go home after school…don’t do that, don’t do this.”
Parents usually just want what’s best for their children. But the 29-year-old Rosal didn’t feel that way while he was growing up.
“My parents, especially my mom, were overly protective. [They] would not let me go out like she doesn’t trust me. I felt like a prisoner,” he explained. “Therefore, I can never go to them if I’m troubled because I would just be scolded.”
Later on in his life, Rosal had received tattoos on his body that his parents didn’t react well to.
“They grew up knowing tattoos as taboos and only criminals have them. I dealt with it by explaining that having a tattoo means much more, which is a sign of expression,” he said.
Despite the differences, Rosal understood that his parents grew up differently than he did.
“I felt like their way of thinking was stuck in the past and it did not adapt to the present,” he said. “I don’t blame my parents for thinking that way because all they care for is providing for us so we can have a better future. This is why I could never hate or resent them.”
Daphnie Damian, a 25-year-old from Ewa Beach, shared that the lack of discipline or too much discipline was something that she disagreed with growing up in a Filipino family.
“There was no in-between and then I just accepted for what it was. I did what I needed to do and depending on how I got disciplined, I knew a way around of living like an almost perfect child to them,” she said.
“The pressure they put on the female child of needing to be pushed into the healthcare/science field of being a nurse or be in the engineering field. Or the pressure of needing to graduate in four years. I dealt with it by getting a bachelor of science degree so they just stopped bugging me.”
An Ewa Beach resident, 25-year-old Jun Sadang spent most of his childhood hiding a part of himself that he felt his family would ostracize him for. He grew up with very traditional Filipino parents which makes it hard for him to fully express himself.
“Growing up, I always liked other guys, but I had to keep that hidden, even though I felt like everyone knew because of the chismis (gossip),” he said.
“I always hid that part of myself because I was raised to think that behavior was very shameful and would make my parents look bad because they had a bakla (gay) for a son.”
When asked about any misunderstandings he had with any of the older generations in his family, he said:
“I think my parents don’t mind now that I’m out. I know it’s a sensitive topic and our other family members still ask me if I have a girlfriend. Even my grandma still wants me to marry a girl, trying to arrange a marriage in the Philippines. It still hurts knowing that my parents are small-kine homophobic though.”
Though these Filipino millennials shared how their views differed from the older generation, they have learned from their experiences and want to do something different for the next generation.
One of the things that Utleg would do differently with her kids in the future is to teach them to have equal respect.
“It’s crucial to allow others to express themselves to reach a mutual agreement rather than putting the other down or letting opinions go unheard. I see nothing wrong with putting family first,” she said.
“But you should not have to feel obligated to serve them if no mutual respect exists. Dignity should be of importance for all, not just one person or a few. Having too much pride will rid you of dignity.”
For Mallari, she hopes to connect her future children closer to Filipino culture and family.
“Once I have children, something I would do differently is introduce our [Filipino] culture to them,” she said. “Especially wanting to keep in contact with family members in the Philippines and wanting them to be as prideful with who we are.”
As for her parenting style, Mallari said: “I definitely am going to give them more freedom. I want them to trust me enough where they’ll feel comfortable coming to me for anything.”
by Jasmine Sadang