Pinay Mom's Blogs
Motherhood between windmills and tulips

Our biggest challenge

We have an 8 year old and a 5 year old Filipino-Dutch kids at home. And they're both mommy's boys. But the truth of the matter is, it can be challenging for me to raise our boys in a society so different from what I was so used to back home. And though there's a number of reasons why, there's 3 main things that impact my parenting style when it comes to raising our boys.

Let them discover even if it's the hard way 

Number one. Let them do things on their own even if it means they get hurt along the way. When our eldest was 4 or 5 years old, my husband would let him climb up the fireman's pole all by himself in the playground with papa watching 5 feet away sitting on the bench. I was aghast! He should be standing next to him! His reasoning, the pole is not that high, if he falls, it's soft ground and if he does fall, he'll know next time to be more careful. He's not the only one who thinks this way. My sister-in-law, my colleagues at work, the parents I see at the daycare center I volunteer in, they all think the same. They say it's a Dutch thing.

Give them a voice

Number two. Kids can freely express their own opinions. I remember being in a conversation one day with a group of adults at a birthday party. One guy was seated next to his 8 year old son. The boy was busy playing with his Nintendo until he started commenting and joining in on our conversation. All of a sudden the boy was part of our discussion. Here in Holland, a child's opinion matters. They express their feelings freely. They say what is important to them and will tell you what they want. Of course we still set our rules, but they are treated as individuals and not as an extension of us, the parents. Personally, sometimes it can be exhausting when I try to discipline our boys. It's what they call negotiation-based parenting.

Let them explore by themselves

Number three. Kids are encouraged to go out and explore their surroundings by themselves. Dutch kids cycle around all the time and therefore my kids had to learn how to cycle at a very young age. Check out our video about cycling in the Netherlands by clicking this link. But be it cycling around the neighbourhood after school, going on playdates in other people's houses or even doing sleepovers, dutch families encourage their child to be out and about. Some parents are even surprised to find our boys never had a sleep over at a friend's house yet. Not even a sleep over at my in-laws. Some even wonder why I don't let my kids cross the road over to the next neighborhood to play in the big playground. My boys are 8 and 5. I have yet to feel comfortable with this Dutch practice. I know there's a good reason. They give them more freedom to be away, to be more independent. Considering that the Netherlands is the 14th safest country in the world, I can understand why they think that way.

These dutch practices are quite different from what I'm used to growing up back home in the Philippines. I needed to adjust my parenting lifestyle, I needed to adapt because we live here. Sometimes, I had to negotiate with my husband. We have to meet in the middle somehow, right? Some of their practices are reasonable, others I still have to get used to even to this day. No parenting style is better than the other. What is best is what works for you as a parent and for them as your children. How is this so different compared to how I grew up back home? Well that's another blog that I intend to write.

In the meantime, I'll just leave you with this question. What parenting practices in your country did you struggle with that is different from the way you were raised?