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Your Parenting Mojo - Respectful, research-based parenting ideas to help kids thrive - Jen Lumanlan 23rd August 2020
SYPM 007: Parenting Across Cultural Divides
00:00:00 00:19:29

SYPM 007: Parenting Across Cultural Divides

In this episode we hear from Denise, who claims to have listened to every Your Parenting Mojo episode...

Denise is a Filipina living in Madrid, and the intentional, respectful parenting style she's chosen to use is somewhat out of place in both cultures.  She wanted to chat about what to do when her daughter is having some big feelings out in public, and a well-meaning senior citizen approaches and says directly to her daughter: "You shouldn't cry, because you look ugly when you cry."

We talk through the immediate issue, as well as all the layers underneath that question, on this episode.  And Denise's children make a surprise guest appearance at the end!

You can find Denise on Facebook at facebook.com/DeniseSuarezConCarino




[accordion-item title="Click here to read the full transcript"]

Jen  00:02

Hi, I'm Jen and I host the Your Parenting Mojo podcast where I critically examine strategies and tools related to parenting and child development that are grounded in scientific research and principles of respectful parenting. In this series of episodes called Sharing Your Parenting Mojo, we turn the tables and hear from listeners. What have they learned from the show that's helped their parenting? Where are they still struggling? And what tools can we find in the research that will help? If you'd like to be notified when new episodes are released and get a FREE Guide to 7 Parenting Myths We Can Safely Leave Behind, seven fewer things to worry about, subscribe to the show at YourParentingMojo.com. You can also continue the conversation about the show with other listeners in the Your Parenting Mojo Facebook group. I do hope you'll join us. Hello and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo podcast and to today's episode of Sharing Your Parenting Mojo. And today I'm here with Denise. And Denise, do you want to say hi and tell us a bit about you and your family?


Denise  01:09

Hi, hi, Jen. I'm Denise. I'm from the Philippines. But I live in Madrid. I have two kids age two and four. And I am also a parenting coach and certified how to talk so kids will listen workshop facilitator.


Jen  01:24

Yeah, so it always feels like we're old friends at this point. And they're never met we've been working together for it's got to be almost two years by now. It was


Denise  01:32

I would say, well for you. You've known me for almost two years. I would say I've known you much longer.


Jen  01:41

Isn't that weird?


Denise  01:44

Yeah, because I started listening to your podcast, I think my daughter must have been like four months old, and she's four now.


Jen  01:57

Okay, now now this is getting really weird. There are a few listeners out there, I know of a few of them by name, who have listened to every podcast episode and I believe you're one of those, aren't you?


Denise  02:08



Jen  02:10

Awesome. So um, so you were curious about coming on to Sharing Your Parenting Mojo to talk about kind of, I guess, an interconnected issue around big feelings and cultural issues and, kinds of stuff related to that, right? I guess that probably comes up a lot for you, because you are raising children in a culture that is not the one that you were raised in yourself.


Denise  02:31

Yep. And all of this really started with you.


Jen  02:34

Oh, my goodness, I'm sorry.


Denise  02:38

It all started with that guide on, I didn't even remember what the name of the guide was.


Jen  02:44

Holding values in the Finding Your Parenting Major Membership. Yeah.


Denise  02:49

Yeah. It all started from there. And there were and the questions that you asked which were just like, what are the cultures that you identify with? How do you want to raise your children in line with these cultures, in what ways are you going to be working against them? For me just really made me realise like, oh, there are really these two different cultures that are at play right now. And even though we are living in Madrid, we are living in Spain, and we have that Spanish culture, it doesn't negate the fact that I'm from the Philippines, and that I have my own, like history and my own culture that I also want to pass on to my children in some way. Maybe not in oh, and that's how I realised just how different it is like, you know, parenting in itself has its own difficulties, but when you kind of like, add in that like extra mix, it just makes it all the more interesting. Yeah.


Jen  03:49

So what kind of situations does it play out in for you them?


Denise  03:52

So this is actually one of the things that I wanted to talk about with you Jen was about. So one of the things that like I'm working against. And this comes from both Filipino and Spanish cultures is the denial of feelings, right? It's the you're not allowed to cry. And so sometimes this happens in the middle of the street and I have my daughter crying and you know, she is all out and I'm there kind of holding that space for her. When an older senior citizen comes along like a very well-meaning one comes to tell my daughter how she shouldn't be crying because she looks ugly when she cries. And so, yeah. Very well-meaning. And so it's kind of like how do I hide this? And, you know, for me, it's very easy to just like, brush up what she says because...


Jen  04:48

You don't know her..


Denise  04:49

Yeah! But these are still messages that my daughter's receiving, right? And it's one of those things where part of the guide, one of the things that we did was to get at what are non negotiables. And that, for me is a non-negotiable. And so it's kind of like how do we handle these types of situations where, really what's going on is so contrary to what we want to teach or what we want them to have or to do.


Jen  05:22

Yeah. So if you don't mind, I'd love it if we could back up just a little bit through your childhood and about how that played out for you. There's a big raised eyebrows there for those of who who are listening. Wide open eyes. So what did you learn about feelings when you were a child then and what would have happened if you had, you know, walking across the street and you have a meltdown in the middle of a street?


Denise  05:47

That would never have happened?


Jen  05:49

Yeah, yeah. So what was it like for you then?


Denise  05:52

It's so funny. I was just speaking to someone else about this a few hours ago, about how in our in my childhood feelings weren't a thing. Like, I guess like they happen behind closed doors. And not just like anger or sadness, just like, in general. I don't remember feelings being a topic of conversation or something that we actually saw in each other. Except, you know, I have three sisters. So of course there was that anger and the jealousy but it wasn't something that we talked about.


Jen  06:29

Yeah. And when you when you said it happened behind closed doors, I just got a flashback actually. Because you've listened to all my episodes I know you know that my mom died when I was about 10. And I remember walking down our hallway upstairs one day and going past my parent's room and my dad was sitting on the bed. He was looking at my mom's jewelry box, and he was crying, and I kept walking because I knew he wouldn't want me to see him crying, or even if I didn't know like, I felt. My impression was we don't talk about this. It's not okay for him to know that I've seen him crying. And for me to go to him and you know, could we ever have a conversation about something that's obviously touching us both so profoundly No, no, I as a 10, or 11 year old? No, I do not know how to initiate that conversation. And I don't know if he saw me. But he never came to me and said anything to me about it. And so yeah, I think this is this is common in so many cultures around the world, isn't it? That we're just, it's not that the feeling isn't there because it is. It's just that we were not allowed to express it. And so, okay, let's move one step forward, then how has that played out in your life, things that you saw happening in your childhood and that you were not allowed to express? How was that brought forward into your life as an adult?


Denise  07:45

By myself like without my kids?


Jen  07:49

Well how has it impacted your relationships, I guess, is


Denise  07:54

Okay, so maybe not an adult yet. We can like pass through the beautiful teenage years of how I, of course, was going through all these emotions and just didn't even know what to do with them, you know? And I remember like, I would speak to friends about it. And I would just be like, I think, God, I have really good friends cause they would just like not say anything, and just like, be there. And so moving on to adulthood. How would that look like it would just be adulthood was fine. It was like no problems. I don't want to talk about my feelings. It's not something that I do. And then it's more just like the kids come and you're like, oh, wait, I have feelings. All these very strong feelings. And then again, because of like your work and all the other work that I've done, I also know that what I have or what I had growing up isn't what I want for my kid.


Jen  08:50

Yeah. And that's where I was going with it. And yeah, just to pause on your teenage years for a minute. I mean, is it possible that if our parents had cultivated that relationship with us, where our feelings were allowed that we wouldn't have needed to go to our friends and have our friends be the sounding board that we know we so desperately need and that we can't find a home. And so then we turn outwards to who else can we possibly get this from? I think I see in the child development research, there's really no examination of that issue. It's more of a well children turn to their peers in their teens. Nobody asked, Well, why do children turn to their peers in their teens? And I know you have a degree in psychology as well. You've probably seen the parallels there.


Denise  09:30

Yeah, that's actually what like when you brought it up, that's what I was going to ask you is like, but don't doesn't the research say that developmentally at that stage it's common for you like, for you to look towards your peers and not your parents.


Jen  09:44

Yeah, yeah. And I'm actually exploring this for a podcast episode. And I'm having a really hard time with it, because I'm sure you've listened already to the episode on othering with Dr. John Powell. And so he mentioned a little nugget in there about the failure of the launching model, which is where we're we prepare our children to launch themselves off into college, into careers, into success, into everything else. And so he had sort of seeded this idea that maybe launching is not actually that useful, but in young adults are still very much exploring who they are. What is their role in the world? And they need help with that. And the idea that, okay, we're done, you're off on your own now go out with a bunch of people your own age, might not actually be super helpful to them. And the reason I'm having a hard time is because in the literature.


Denise  10:32

There must be nothing.


Jen  10:34

Yeah, well, firstly, there's nothing on that, and secondly, the phrase failure to launch means that your child has not launched themselves because the only model is the launch. And so if it's not a failure of the model, it's a failure of your child to live within the model. And so yes, this idea is very much swirling,


Denise  10:53

And it reminds me a lot of how you always mention most of the studies are like focused on the W.E.I.R.D. country's culture, whatever the word is.


Jen  11:07

Yes. And if you haven't listened to every episode that's Western, educated, industrialized rich, democratic cultures abbreviated to our acronym is weird. Yeah.


Denise  11:18

And how those cultures are particularly focused on independence. Well, if you look at maybe especially more Asian cultures, their focus is really more of what's more, just like interdependence. .


Jen  11:34

Exactly. Yeah and is failure to launch even a thing. And is there any research on it in English that I can find? Well, it will see, but not so far yet. So, okay, so that kind of brings us to adulthood and to the fact that parenting brings up all these big feelings in us and we were seeing in our children, we want to do things differently. And yet we have all these strong cultural messages around us about what is the right way for a child. to behave. And so your I think there's a few layers to this. Your original question was about what to do with people that you don't know. And then of course, there's another layer about what to do with people you do know. With people you don't know, if it was just some random person walking down the street, what would you say right now? What would be your...


Denise  12:18

I don't mind them.


Jen  12:21

Do you not pay any attention? Do you even acknowledge that you've heard or?


Denise  12:23

It depends on my mood, honestly. Sometimes I just say like, thank you, because I know that again, they're very like well intentioned for it. Other times, then, this is like after working with you, then I kind of like speak to my daughter about it afterwards, when she's calmed down to kind of say like, oh, what do you think of that? And so I think I do kind of know what to do. It's just the question is more, you know, if it was like a one time thing, yeah, it's fine. It's just, you know, if it's something quite consistent, It's just culture.


Jen  12:55

Yeah and culture is made up of people's expectations and actions. And yeah, so I mean, I think you're already on the right track just to sort of as gracious as you can muster. Thank you, maybe even a thank you, I've got this. It seems as though more advice is being offered. And then after the fact, absolutely a conversation with your daughter about what happened. And I would be super explicit about what you believe about feelings, and how feelings are expressed in your family. And of course, because you've been doing this work for so long, you should be able to point to times when she may be in your own apartment, she has been able to express her feelings and, you know, this is how we welcome your feelings. These are the kinds of things that you can know welcome your feelings. Is there anything else that I could be doing that I'm not doing right now, to help you feel as though when you have to express something that you have a safe space to do that in and then have that lead into a conversation about what other people believe about feelings, and we hear in the States, yes, disapproving looks are pretty uncommon. I would say it would be pretty rare for another adult to say a comment like that. So we don't have that as much to deal with on that issue. But we're, of course we're having, we're having explicit discussions with our child about race and what that means and how that intersects with all the different ways that she plays. And so I would talk with your child about what other people believe about feelings and how people in some cultures believe that you shouldn't express your feelings, and that it's better to not do that and that we believe something different. And so it's possible that we're going to encounter people we're going to be out in the street, we'll see a person and this is what you will hear me say when that happens like today when it happened. I said thank you to that person. That doesn't mean that I believe that what they said is right. It means that I believe we should be polite to people that we don't know and especially people who are older than us. And so that's why I said thank you. But that doesn't mean that I believe that what that person said is right, because I believe that my relationship with you is the most important thing. You know, include other family members as appropriate, and that you have the right to express the feelings you want to express and that I, I will help you to find a place for those and I will support you through those. And I think, you know, children become so adept at navigating different worlds and what rules are okay, what things are okay to do at grandma's house, what things are not okay to do at grandma's house. And but they are a code our house, so they can navigate these different things. And so I think that that approach really kind of helps them to know where you stand on it super explicitly, and that this is welcome in your family. And that when we're out, it's possible they're going to get other messages, and this is how you relate to them. So how do you think that would play out if you have that kind of conversation?


Denise  15:54

Yeah, I think it's kind of like I did the first step of having that conversation of like, okay, in our family this is what we do, and I missed the second step which is kind of like explaining how this might be what happens in our family, but it's not necessarily what happened outside. And I guess I like it, because it's also kind of preparing them and letting them know, like, things might be different. And it's okay for them to be different. But still, this is this is what we do in our family.


Jen  16:24

Yeah. And it's going to come up again and again. In school, in playgrounds, in everywhere they interact with other people. It's going to come up again and again. And so you could even prepare them with something to say that if a teacher at school says stop crying, you look ugly when you cry. Maybe there's a you know..


Denise  16:47

Hope none of their teachers say that.


Jen  16:49

Hopefully they wouldn't, but you never know. Maybe they're in the playground and some random person is passing by. You never know. But just you know, what is something that's not super snarky But that also acknowledges their right to express their emotions. It's as long as hopefully nobody's being hit and obviously that kind of support, but if it's an expression of emotions. So yeah, making it really explicit about what we believe and what works in our family and how we interact with each other in our family. And I mean, the extra step for how we apply that out in the world is so important. It's so many issues related to patriarchy related to race and things like that. So as we wrap up, so anyone who's interested in finding out more about your work and where they can interact with you.


Denise  17:36

Yeah, so I do most of my interaction on Facebook. So Jen is going to share the link on the description if you want to listen it's facebook.com/DeniseSuarezConCarino. And so what I really do as a parenting coach is that I support other intercultural families because I really understand how difficult it might be when it comes to raising your children in a culture that's different from your own.


Jen  18:12

So yeah, we'll definitely post the link to that in the episode page. And thanks so much for coming on and asking that question because I'm guessing that there are a number of families who are in that position, even if you're in a different country speaking a different language. The number of people who move away from their families now is so high and you find yourself with a different set of friends and and your family isn't around or isn't able to offer that guidance to you that they might be able to if they were close, and how do you navigate that So, so thanks so much for being here. And we will bet you go. We got a lot of, we got children launching themselves off. Thanks for your time today.


Denise  18:50

Thank you so much. Take care.


Jen  18:54

Thanks for joining us for this episode of Your Parenting Mojo. Don't forget to subscribe to the show at YourParentingMojo.com to receive new episode notifications and the FREE Guide to 7 Parenting Myths That We Can Leave Behind and join the Your Parenting Mojo Facebook group for more respectful research based ideas to help kids thrive and make parenting easier for you. I'll see you next time on Your Parenting Mojo.