Parenting and the debt of one's inner self

by - 9:28 PM

Hindi sukatan na naging mabuting magulang ka yung makapagpalaki ka ng mga anak na balang araw ililibre ka sa unang sweldo nya o yung buwan-buwan bibigyan ka ng allowance. Ang sukatan na naging mabuting magulang ka ay yung makita mo yung anak mo na maging mabuting magulang sa magiging anak nya.

(Good parenting does not mean raising a child who would one day treat you on his first salary or give you a monthly allowance. The true measure of good parenting is when you see your child grow up to be a good parent to his own.)


This was a lesson on the utang-na-loob culture that I learned from a churchmate during one of our small group meetings and I kept this in my heart.

I hear a lot of stories like this.

This isn't merely to create ingrates out of ourselves nor to discourage anyone from giving. In a mummy forum alone, I have read a hundred woes of moms whose parents or in-laws are asking for allowances from them despite their own financial struggles.

I cringe with the thought that they would go as far as berate their fully-grown children with the lines, "Ako ang naghirap dyan! Siyam na buwan ko yan dinala. Binihisan ko. Pinakain ko. Pinaaral. Ako dapat ang makinabang." (I sacrificed a lot for him. I carried him for 9 months. Clothed him. Fed him. Sent him to school. I should benefit from him.)


Why did we have children in the first place? 

I love my husband. My husband loves me. Our son is the fruit of our love. We had a child because we love each other, wanted a family, and wanted to share that overflowing love to our own.

Parenting changed Gab and I in so many beautiful ways.

In fact, we only wish our son three things each year that he celebrates his birthday:

1. That he knows he's loved.
2. That he always choose to do good
3. That he grows up happy

So, we will never be the kind of parents to berate him over these matters.

He will never have to hear from us that he owes us anything; be it my pregnancy, the 12-hour labor, the scar on my tummy, the roof above his head, the food he eats, the clothes he wear nor his education.

Our children do not owe us anything. They have not asked to be born. That's our doing. So the moment we conceive, it's our responsibility to give them a decent life. Our responsibility, alone. No child deserves to be put through a situation where he is told that he needs to pay for our sacrifices.

Imposing versus Giving

Expecting or imposing and freely giving are two very different things. They're a whole world apart.

My sister once said this:

Parents are beautiful when they think their children do not owe them anything.
Children are beautiful when they think they owe their parents everything.

Growing up, we weren't rich. We had enough. My father was a high school grad who was once a janitor in Manila Doctors and flew abroad for greener pastures. My mother used to to be an accountant then became a homemaker by the time we were in high school. Both were hardworking and after we graduated from college, they told us "ok na kami" (we're fine).

In our family, the mere fact that we graduated and can start fending for ourselves, meant "help" to our parents' finances. No one ever asked each other for anything. They never told us to treat them for dinner or to buy them gifts. 

But we treat them meals. We buy them gifts. We love them, and despite being far from home and living our own lives for eight years now, they are still around for us. They're still looking for us when we come home late. They still worry and bombard us with a gazillion messages when we don't reply asap. Papa still gives us hugs and Mama still holds our arms when we walk.

They never asked. But we always did. That's the beauty of never having to impose anything, and still end up giving.

Sabi nga nila, "Hindi nyo kami obligasyon. Pero kayo obligasyon namin kayo habang buhay." (They said, "We aren't your obligation. But you are our obligation for as long as we live.)

My parents are building their own house before Papa retires. In Papa's own words, "Pag-uwi ko magtatayo tayo ng business. Lahat ng meron ako, sa atin yun. Kung anong plano nyo sa future, susuportahan ko kayo". (When I go home, we'll put up a business. Everything that I have is our family's. Whatever plans you have for your future, I will support you."

You're probably rich that's why you're not expecting anything from your child...

We wish!

What my husband I learned during this past two years of being parents, was to prepare for old age and our son's. We are building our own home, and hopefully, another for Popy, in the future. We're just an average earning couple who are saving as much as we can. We are planning for a business that can sustain us in old age, that can continue to support our son when he needs help, and that we can pass on to him on our demise.

So you don't believe in utang-na-loob?

Utang na loob. Of course, I do. We do.

Personally, I'm very appreciative and always repay whatever debt we have, more so if it's utang-na-loob. It's just that for us, whatever help we extend, we give it out of kindness and not because we're expecting them to repay us one day. Same goes with us having a child, we didn't bring one into the world to pressure him into helping us survive financially in the future. He is not our retirement fund.

I love my parents for everything that they did for us. If things didn't turn out so well for all of us, say, only I can be sent to school, then I would have worked and helped them send my younger sister to school.

But just because our lives turned out fine doesn't mean, I don't appreciate their sacrifices. They're going to grow old one day, and we'll be around for them when they start finding it hard to walk or see or do things on their own.

Wholeheartedly repaying them isn't all just about the money. It's continuously loving and respecting each other even after our kids have grown wings of their own.

So to cap it off, in behalf of my husband, let me just say this for our son:

"We will forever be here for you. Even when you've grown taller, stronger, more capable than us and even when you start a family of your own, we will be here. We will never ask you to give. We will love you unconditionally. And if you love us just the same that, my child, will always be enough..."

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