Understanding Parenthood: A Journey Towards Empathy
Over the past few years, I’ve seen several posts from young, child-free Filipinos saying things they definitely will and will never do if or when they become parents. Others are criticizing what some parents are doing, saying it isn’t right, they shouldn’t do this or that to their kids, etc.
Before I became a parent, I was exactly like that. I thought I understood what parenting meant. I thought I knew exactly what I should and should not do when I became one. I also criticized my own parents a lot.
It was only when I became one myself, while losing both my parents almost at the same time, that I truly understood. It’s not as easy as it seems. You can read a thousand parenting books, listen to so many “parenting experts,” but you will never truly understand the depth of a mother/father’s love and the lengths they will go through for their children until you have children of your own.
Becoming a parent opened my eyes to the challenges and sacrifices that come with raising a child. The sleepless nights, the endless worries, the constant juggling of responsibilities—it’s a relentless journey that demands immense dedication. It made me realize that parenting is not a series of checkboxes; it’s a dynamic, ever-evolving process that defies any one-size-fits-all approach.
What you need to understand is that parents are doing the best they can with the resources they have, and there’s only so much they can do. They may not always get it right, and they may make mistakes along the way, but their love and intention remain steadfast. Parenting is a constant balancing act between providing for their children and nurturing them emotionally, and it’s a delicate tightrope to walk.
So to those who are child-free, speak lightly about what you think your parents are doing or did wrong because you have no idea what they had to go through to keep your family afloat. Remember that behind the scenes, they faced their own battles, made sacrifices, and devoted themselves to ensure your well-being. Cherish the time you have with them, for it’s going to be hard to take them back once they’re gone.
Parenthood is a transformative experience that defies preconceived notions. It’s a journey that humbles and challenges you, but it’s also a journey that fills your heart with an indescribable joy. So before passing judgment, take a moment to empathize and appreciate the immense love and dedication that parents pour into their children’s lives. It’s a journey that only those who have walked can truly understand.
We Need to Cut Dads Some Slack
I’m constantly in awe of the progress we’re making in terms of gender roles and parenting. I came across a recent study that shows how dads are spending triple the amount of time caring for their kids and double the amount of time on housework compared to 50 years ago*. This is a huge step forward for dads, and it’s about time that they get the recognition they deserve for their involvement in parenting and household chores.
But as with any change, there are always those who criticize and nitpick. Some people are saying that we shouldn’t be praising dads for doing what’s expected of a parent, and that our standards for dads have been set so low that we settle for just the bare minimum. I can see where these critics are coming from, but I think it’s important to remember that gender roles are deeply ingrained in our society, and it’s not something that can be unlearned overnight.
We need to give dads a chance to catch up and be involved in parenting and household chores. We need to encourage and support them, rather than tear them down. Yes, it’s true that dads should be doing their fair share of parenting and household chores, but we also need to remember that this is a new and unfamiliar territory for many dads. They’re navigating uncharted waters, and they need our support and understanding.
As a millennial mom, while I feel lucky enough to have a husband who does his fair share of parenting and household chores, I also recognize that not all dads are at the same level, and that’s okay. We need to give them time to catch up and learn, rather than expecting them to be perfect right off the bat.
Having said that, we should continue to praise and encourage dads for their involvement in parenting and household chores, while also recognizing that gender roles are deeply ingrained in our society and change takes time. Let’s give dads a chance to catch up and be the amazing parents and partners that they can be.
*Pew Research Center 2016 Survey Analysis: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/06/13/fathers-day-facts/
Is Homeschooling Elitist?
In recent years, homeschooling has gained popularity as an alternative approach to education in the Philippines. While traditional schools remain the norm, many families have turned to homeschooling to provide a more flexible and personalized learning experience for their children. However, there are still significant barriers that prevent many Filipino families from accessing this educational option.
One of the biggest challenges is the perception that homeschooling is only for the elite. This stereotype has been perpetuated by the fact that many homeschooling communities in the Philippines are based in affluent areas and cater to families with financial means. This has led to the misconception that homeschooling is only for those who can afford to hire private tutors and purchase expensive educational materials.
In reality, homeschooling can be a viable option for families from all walks of life, regardless of their financial situation. It is possible to homeschool on a budget, using free or low-cost resources and curriculum materials. However, many families are not aware of these options or do not have access to them.
Another challenge is the language used in homeschooling materials and communities. In the Philippines, English is often the language of instruction in homeschooling, which can be a barrier for families who do not speak English at home. This can create a sense of exclusion for non-English speaking families, who may feel that homeschooling is not a viable option for them.
To make homeschooling more accessible, it is important to provide resources and support in Filipino languages. This would enable families who do not speak English at home to participate in homeschooling communities and access educational materials that are relevant to their cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Finally, there is a lack of resources and support for homeschooling in the Philippines. While there are some organizations and groups that provide assistance and guidance to homeschooling families, there is a need for more comprehensive resources that cover all aspects of homeschooling. This includes curriculum materials, assessment tools, and guidance on legal and administrative requirements.
To address these challenges, it is important for the government and education sector to recognize homeschooling as a valid educational option and provide support and resources to families who choose this path. This could include the development of Filipino-language homeschooling materials and resources, as well as training and support for parents who are new to homeschooling.
In conclusion, homeschooling has the potential to provide a flexible and personalized education for Filipino children, but it is currently not accessible to all families. By addressing the challenges of elitism, language, and resources, we can make homeschooling a viable option for more families in the Philippines, and provide children with the education they deserve.
How Writing about Motherhood has Helped Me
My husband and I became parents at the worst possible time.
We had been married for two years before I became pregnant with our first child. This was all laid out in my mental “plan.” We would get married, enjoy married life for two years then start a family.
After our second anniversary, my mom casually asked me if we were having trouble conceiving or if we had intentionally put off having kids. I told her it was the latter but that we were going to start trying now. By then we’ve gotten this question from a lot of people but it would later turn out that the one coming from my mom would be the most significant.
After about six months of trying, we found out I was pregnant. We were thrilled and worried but could not wait to tell our family about it. I wanted to tell my mom in person so she does not end up hearing it from someone else, so my husband and I decided to head home to tell her of the good news.
In typical Filipino mom fashion, she kept her excitement inside and simply said, “aw maayo” (well, that’s good then). But boy did it show. I would also later learn that she had planned to live with us throughout my pregnancy until the first few months post-birth to help out with the baby.
That did not happen.
Only four weeks after our announcement, my mom suddenly passed away. It came as an absolute shock and it shook our whole family. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was to continue this motherhood journey without her. The worst part about all this was that I could not even grieve! “Try not to stress yourself too much, it might be bad for the baby.”
Well it turns out bottling up grief can really mess up the mother, too. Pretty bad.
A few months later, I give birth to the most amazing baby girl. I wish I could say the same about my birth experience, but that is a story for another day. And just when I thought things could not get any worse, my dad passes away – only six days after my baby is born, which also happens to be my birthday.
When it rains, it pours.
This was in 2017-2018. The years following that were bleak. I don’t know how we lived through it but we somehow survived. And in 2020, I became pregnant with and gave birth to our force-of-nature of a daughter. Things were finally looking up, or so we thought. Cue Covid-19 Pandemic.
From 2017 to 2022, my mental health fluctuated between “I can’t do this anymore, but who will take care of my kids? And what about my husband?” and “Let’s just survive this day and maybe tomorrow will be better.” There were highs for sure, but some nights were just unbearable.
I would sometimes share my experiences/depressive episodes on social media (in writing) hoping for some consolation and to my surprise, many of my posts resonated with other moms who were also going through their own struggles. So I kept sharing.
Fast forward to 2023, I decide to take this a bit more seriously and start blogging again. Thus, Diary of a Millennial Mama came to fruition. As I learn and share about my parenting woes, daily wins and my aspirations for our little family, I can feel the darkness that has enveloped me start to disappear. Could it be that I am finally starting to heal from the trauma of the last few years? It certainly feels like it.
Writing has always been a part of my life, I have always enjoyed it – although I may not be very good at it – but I have always considered myself to be a story-teller.
For now, I am only writing to my heart’s content because I find it therapeutic. I am not sure what to make of this yet, I don’t want to think too much of it. If by chance you stumble across this and resonate with it, I am glad we made that connection.
Maybe I can write a memoir in the future, or a book about navigating motherhood as a millennial, who knows? 🙂
Midnight Musings of a Millennial Mama
Motherhood makes you weird.
I spend most of my days wishing my kids were bigger so they can be less needy.
But some nights I cry in secret knowing that I only have so much time to soak up their littleness.
All I really want is to hear them laugh and see the look on their faces when I tell them how proud I am of them.
I want to stop worrying about the “right way” of disciplining them or the “right type of food” to feed them, or getting them “school-ready.” What even is that?
I hate yelling at them. I hate forcing them to do things they don’t want to do. I just want to let them be.
Why does it have to be so complicated?
Why it is Important to Prioritize your Spouse
As a mom of two young girls, I understand how hectic and overwhelming parenting can be. Between juggling work, attending to your kids’ needs and managing the household, it’s easy to forget about your relationship with your spouse. However, we need to remember that prioritizing your partner is crucial for the well-being of your family.
I know firsthand that when my husband and I are happy and connected, our family dynamic is stronger and more harmonious. We’re able to parent as a team, support each other through challenges, and model a healthy relationship for our children. On the other hand, when we neglect our relationship, our family suffers. We’re more likely to argue, feel stressed, and struggle with communication.
It’s important to remember that your relationship with your spouse came first. Before kids, before jobs, before the chaos of everyday life, there was just the two of you. You fell in love and made a commitment to each other, and that commitment deserves to be honored and nurtured.
Of course, prioritizing your spouse doesn’t mean neglecting your children. It’s about finding a balance between your roles as parents and partners. Make time for date nights, even if they’re just at home after the kids are in bed. Communicate regularly and openly with your partner about your needs, desires, and challenges. Remember to show affection, both physically and verbally. And don’t be afraid to seek outside help, whether it’s from a therapist or a trusted friend, if you’re struggling to reconnect with your spouse.
By prioritizing your relationship with your spouse, you’re not only investing in your own happiness and well-being, but also in the health and happiness of your family. Your children will benefit from seeing their parents in a loving, supportive relationship, and you’ll be better equipped to face the ups and downs of parenting together. So take a deep breath, put down the laundry basket, and make time for your partner. Your family will thank you for it.
How Do I Teach My Children About Religion?
My husband and I were raised in religious households. He was raised as a Catholic and practically grew up serving the Catholic church. I, however, grew up in a Baha’i household. One is more traditional and strict, the other a bit more progressive and modern. Naturally, when we decided to get married, there were a lot of discussions surrounding religion and spirituality, especially about how to achieve harmony in an interfaith household.
And now that we have kids, it poses a different kind of challenge. The question isn’t so much whether we would be teaching our children about religion, that’s already a given. If you’re wondering why, I am a firm believer that teaching children about the different world religions and their principles will lay the foundation of their values and characters and will ultimately define the kind of person they will grow up to be. Katherine Blanchard, professor of religious studies in Alma College in Michigan could not have said it better when she said,
“Exposing students to a bird’s-eye view of what religion is and how it functions in our society helps them learn respect for other peoples’ behaviors and choices.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/10/25/teaching-kids-world-religions-cultures/
The question now becomes “how?” How do I teach my children about religion and when is the appropriate time to do so? As millennial parents, this feels a little like being pulled into two separate directions. On the one hand you want to guide and shape your children but on the other hand you are aware that letting them become their own person is just as important.
In our household, we have already started the habit of praying with our children and introduced the concept of God – in the most age appropriate way we know how. However, many religious scholars do not recommend introducing any religious influence to your children until they are about 6 or 7 years old. Bible stories and other simple, age-appropriate scriptures and parables should be okay. In fact, they provide an avenue for families to bond and connect.
If you like to travel as a family, Blanchard suggests that it would be a good idea to visit houses of worship for your kids to gain some knowledge about mosques and churches and for them to have an idea of what they’re like. In most cases, these places of worship are happy to welcome visitors, though if you’re unsure about what might be best for a nonmember, it’s best to call ahead.
It is also important to let your children unfold on their own and use their impulses as your guide in teaching them. As the renowned author, Deepak Chopra, would put it, “controlling a child or projecting yourself on to her is a recipe for rejection and rebellion later on, not to mention stunted growth in the present.”
Most importantly, to quote Prof. Blanchard, “Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know the answers, because when it comes to the really hard questions about religion — life, death, the afterlife — nobody does.”
We Need to Stop Romanticizing “Supermoms”
Mothers are often expected to be superheroes, juggling multiple roles, and managing everything without breaking a sweat. Society has romanticized the idea of the “supermom” so much that it has become the norm for mothers to carry the majority of the responsibility for raising children, managing a household, and performing well in their careers. However, just because moms can do it all, it doesn’t mean they should.
Mothers deserve support from their partners and loved ones without having to ask for it. It’s essential to acknowledge that managing a household, raising children, and succeeding in a career are incredibly challenging tasks, and no one person should have to do it alone. A mother’s job is already physically and emotionally demanding, and adding additional responsibilities can lead to burnout and mental health problems.
It’s crucial to remember that mothers are not solely responsible for the wellbeing of the family. Fathers and other family members should be expected to share the load, and support mothers in whatever way they can. This support could be as simple as doing the dishes, taking care of the kids for a few hours, or actively participating in decision-making about the household and family.
The idea of being a supermom has been romanticized to the point where it’s considered normal for mothers to take on the majority of the responsibility. It’s time to change this narrative and recognize that mothers are individuals who deserve to have a life beyond just being a caregiver. Mothers need time to pursue their passions, take care of themselves, and have their own identity.
It’s also essential to recognize that mothers can’t do it all, nor should they have to. Asking for help or delegating tasks doesn’t make a mother weak or less capable. Instead, it shows that she is self-aware and values her mental and physical wellbeing. Recognizing this fact is vital for mothers’ long-term health and happiness, as well as for the wellbeing of the family as a whole.
Just because mothers can do it all, doesn’t mean they should. Mothers deserve support, and the responsibility of raising children and managing a household should be shared among family members. Mothers are individuals who deserve to have a life beyond just being a caregiver, and asking for help or delegating tasks doesn’t make them weak. It’s time to recognize the importance of supporting mothers and creating a more equitable society for all.
The Power of ONE Caring Adult
I came across this really powerful talk by a youth advocate about how EVERY KID IS ONE CARING ADULT AWAY FROM BEING A SUCCESS STORY and I wanted to share my thoughts about it.
“Every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.”– Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, 2015
In March 2015, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child released a study saying, “Every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.” In other words, it really only takes the belief and encouragement of ONE supportive adult in order for a child to thrive, and if you try and think about your childhood, wouldn’t you say that this was true?
This youth advocate, Josh Shipp, begins his talk by saying that statistically speaking, he should be in jail by now or worse, dead, if it hadn’t been for that one grown up who refused to give up on him. At 14, he had been in and out of foster homes that it had become a game to him. He had become so used to jumping from one home to another that he would try to guess how long it took before his foster parents kicked him out.
Eventually, he had gotten so used to it that he would intentionally act out and cause trouble for his foster family just so he can be kicked out. That was until he was taken in by Rodney and his family. Rodney never called Josh out for his behavior. Whenever Josh acted out, Rodney would just let him and would listen to him patiently. Until finally he got into some serious trouble and was detained.
Rodney, of course, goes to bail him out without question but when they got home, he sat Josh down for some one-on-one talk. Rodney assured Josh that he will always be there for him but will only be able to help him he helps himself. That was when he started to get his act together. And look at him now.
So to all parents/guardians, grandparents, teachers, uncles/aunties and basically anyone who has some influence over a child’s life, be that one adult in your kids’ lives. Be intentional and consistent in investing your time with them and let them know that you see their potential. Be genuinely interested in the things that they do. And remember that the time you spend being present with your kids will never go to waste – regardless of whether they become “successful” in the traditional sense of the word, or not.
Dilemma of a Millennial Mama
Sometimes I can’t help but feel like I am not living the life I am supposed to live. That I am not my most authentic self. I feel like I have been keeping appearances all my life and it dawns on me every time I see other people unapologetically living their most authentic selves.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a great life, a beautiful family, a stable job and we get to have nice things. Some might even say it’s picture perfect. But I can’t seem to shake off the feeling that I am living somebody else’s life.
In my mind, I have a picture of what this “authentic” life looks like but I am not ready to admit it yet because I am afraid that I might be wrong. I am afraid that if I achieve what I believe is the life I want, it might not be what I expected and I end up becoming disappointed.
Just your average millennial mama navigating motherhood and breaking generational curses.