Insights on Parenting: Lessons Learned from the Parents of Barangay Payatas
by: Jaymee Q. Leonen
“ We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future”. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Many say that parenting is a lifelong job, and yet, proper parenting is never really taught. When parents raise their children, they often struggle with discovering what the do’s and dont’s are, pakapa-kapa, as they say. This was a reality that even the youth themselves picked up on. One of my colleagues, Chris Carandang, was approached by his student, Walter, as Chris talked about the parenting seminars MLAC Psychosocial Services for Well-being provides to other sectors in one of his classes. Walter was President of Rotaract Club, UP Diliman Chapter. A partnership then developed between MLAC and Rotaract, and it gave birth to the successful parenting seminar held in Barangay Payatas last January 25, 2014.
During the said event, parents residing in the said barangay were invited to seminar. An estimate of about 60 participants graced us with their presence. It began with the Rotaract members introducing the resource speaker, no other than our founder and mentor, Dr. Maria Lourdes A. Carandang. Tita Honey, as she is more popularly known as, gave a talk entitled “Paano Maging Mahusay na Magulang? (How do you become a good parent?)”. Often times, some parents get so caught up with their responsibilities in raising their children that they sometimes compromise the quality of the relationship they build with them. In her talk, Tita Honey provided the guidelines in fostering holistic development in the child, which include 1. proper communication, 2. disciplining with dignity, 3. teaching the value of honesty, 4. creating opportunities for regular family bonding, 4. enjoying your children, 5. finding a support group, and 6. taking care of yourself. Among the highlights of her talk was the reminder she gave to parents to not forget to praise their children. She also clarified the distinction between discipline and abuse, and how the lack of self awareness can sometimes lead parents to cross the line unconsciously, and therefore they must be always wary of this tendency. This is best avoided when parents learn to enjoy their children, and to acknowledge that raising them can sometimes be challenging so that having support groups can be very helpful, especially in trying times. Most importantly, one is a better caregiver and parent when he/she is able to take care of his/her own needs.
After her very enriching talk, the participants were divided into small groups to discuss their reactions about the recent talk shared. Each group was assigned an MLAC team member as a facilitator, to guide them in their process of reflection. The facilitators who were there were Chris Carandang, Olive Carandang, Rachel Parr, Fiona Sandoval, Riza Ng, and myself. My group was comprised of strong women of all ages, undergoing different stages in the parenting role. During my facilitation, my eyes were opened to the reality of intergenerational differences, and how parenting was actually undergoing a changing face. One of the changes included the means of communication among parents to their children. The older parents spoke about how they used to leave notes on the fridge before they went to work. And while many middle class parents I now know complain about how technological advances has served as a hindrance to decent family dinner conversations, some of the younger mothers in my group noted cellphones as their primary, sometimes only, means of communicating with their children. Because they needed to earn money to suffice for the family’s needs, many of the mothers in my group said they only spoke to their children via cellphone. And yet, they boast about the fact that they have managed to raise good children despite these financial, and shall we say, communication challenges. And so, this has made me come to the conclusion that it’s not about the mode of communication, it’s the quality of it, that builds the relationship.
But ofcourse as much as there are good news, there were also some other constant not so pleasant realities that surfaced. Across generations, mothers still believe that corporal punishment is a legitimate means of discipline. What I did find fascinating was that the mothers also expressed their realizations about some of their malpractices and conceded that they would want to improve themselves. I guess it dawned into them when Tita Honey said that the difference between discipline and abuse is that discipline is done for the betterment of the child, while abuse is done to gratify one’s needs and whims. Some of them admitted that they can recall certain instances wherein they themselves might have crossed the line, and that they are most thankful with the fact that despite their imperfections, their children grew to be “good children”.
For me, listening to these stories made me feel like a higher purpose was achieved today. It became even more surreal when the other facilitators began sharing their groups’ discussions during the integration. I heard so much stories of strength, resilience, and success amidst the challenges in all aspects of life, from financial, to emotional , to physical, you name it, they’ve survived it. Indeed, parenting is the hardest job we can ever have, and unlike other careers, it’s a lifetime responsibility rewarded only by the success and gratitude of your children. So to the parents of Barangay Payatas, we thank you for your trust and we applaud you for your continuous heroic deeds for your children. And to Rotaract Club, thank you for allowing the MLAC Team this opportunity to learn from the parents, and to fulfil our mission and priority project : “PARENTING IS NATION BUILDING”.
*all pictures c/o Ms.Rachel Peddy. Thanks Rachel!