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Family Life | Issues in Filipino Parenting Based on Studies

We will not run out of topics when we talk about parenting. A research I made on empirical studies made from year 2000-2018 reveals at least three major categories of topics: parenting styles, discipline practices that tend to be abusive, and transnational or distance parenting due to millions of OFWs.

Parenting style is a significant common category of Filipino parenting studies. The parenting style typology, based on original research conducted by Diana Baumrind (1966) showed two elements of parenting – demandingness (directiveness, control) and responsiveness (nurturance, warmth) that have an effect on children’s outcomes. Authoritarian parents are said to be highly demanding but not responsive, permissive parents are not demanding but highly responsive, authoritative parents are both very demanding and very responsive, and neglectful parents are neither demanding nor responsive. The authoritative parenting style is said to be the best for having protective factors against children’s risk behaviors and being supportive of emotional and psychological health. The following summary shows common parenting styles in local setting and their outcomes on children. Longitudinal studies in Cebu City showed that the majority of the parents consistently had permissive style over time, with mothers more consistent than fathers (Hock 2013, 63). The results also highlighted the gendered roles of male and female, mothers and fathers in Philippine society. Parenting styles differed by parents’ gender and children’s gender. Daughters reported stricter (authoritative, authoritarian) mothers and fathers than did sons. Sons reported a higher permissive parenting style from their mothers (70.3%) and fathers (58.7%) than did daughters (Hock et al. 2016, 111). Authoritative style was shown to be predictive of better educational attainment, self-esteem, and protection against son’s getting into drugs. This style scored highest for adolescents to want to spend time with family and with parents on most topics, and fits with the family-centric value of Filipinos. The younger respondents explained the warm authoritative relationship they had with their parents as characterized by generous praise and rewards like hugs, quality time spent with them, the effort given to prepare their meals, and the nurturing and discipline they received (Gilongos and Guarin 2013, 1565). However, permissive parenting seemed beneficial for children in late adolescence and emerging adults (18–21 years old in the study) and was found to be protective against a daughter’s depressive symptoms. Correlational studies do not mean causation but merely measures the strength of the relationship of the variables.

This focus on parenting styles shows the need to teach parents to build warm and close relationships with their children. Growing research in neuroscience and developmental sciences emphasizes the importance of responsive interaction and relationships that contribute to a child’s physical and emotional well-being, social competence, cognitive development (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child 2007, 3–12) and spiritual and moral development (Fowler and Dell 2006, 36–38). A child’s holistic growth in all areas serves as a strong foundation for a lifetime of productivity and responsibility in work and relationships. Parents also need to be firm on matters that are important for children’s optimal development and protection against risk behaviors. Lovingly firm and supportive family relationships could buffer the effects of a toxic environment and stress brought on children by poverty (Moskowitz, Vittinghoff, and Schmidt 2013, 179–80). Fortifying family relationships primarily during the children’s vulnerable early years is essential for both parents and children so they can better handle another difficult area of parenting – that of dealing with ingrained beliefs and practices, mainly in areas of discipline and character building.

We find examples of the different parenting styles in the Bible that we can learn from. We have the high priest and second to the last judge of Israel Eli who failed to discipline his two sons, described as “scoundrels and they had no regard for the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12-17) as they abused and took advantage of their priestly roles. Eli was a permissive father who only mildly reprimanded his sons but did nothing to set them aright. David was a celebrated warrior and king but was neglectful or passive when it came to confronting, engaging and disciplining his erring sons (1 Kings 1:6; 2 Sam. 13:1–2, 23–29; 14:24, 28–33). Saul is another king who did not have much of a relationship with his son Jonathan but dealt with him in an authoritarian way. Saul was selfish and insecure and only wanted to retain his kingship. These were parents who occupied major positions in the political and religious realms yet failed as parents. We find an example of authoritative parenting in the Book of Proverbs where parents are engaged in teaching, instructing, warning their son against possible pitfalls he will encounter. What about you, which style characterizes your parenting?

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