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Friday, July 8, 2011

appreciation for the culture...

one of the many things i've learned to appreciate about Filipino culture- and Asian in general- is the way it revolves around children.

coming from the West, i grew up hearing about motherhood as a sort of secondary choice to career. plus, it was the 60's.

which meant independent thinking and congratulations to anyone who veered away from the norm of the nuclear family and a stay-at-home mom.

of course, being a child of the 60's, i opted to deviate from my own deviation and so became a SAHM by choice, for as long as i had children at home.

but i digress from my original point.

Asian culture loves children. there is no higher value than having children. a newly married couple is under immediate pressure to produce a baby- there is nothing more important.

westerners think this is terrible.

i think it's fantastic.

an asian child is a wanted, pampered, loved, held and secure child. (with exceptions, of course, but as a general rule).

in public, you will never see a child being scolded or smacked. you will see tolerance for temper tantrums, and even people surrounding a screaming/freaking out toddler will smile and nod and exchange knowing glances that say "my goodness, what a strong-willed high-spirited child this is! how lucky the parents are! this kid is going to go places!"

different from the west, where looks of scorn and impatience greet any parent dealing with a "high-spirited" child in a public place. more along the lines of "shut that kid up, he's disturbing my personal noise bubble"...

Filipino babies feet almost never touch the floor till they're past a year old. they are held, rocked, bounced, passed from arm to arm, tickled and kissed and snuggled and just plain loved.

western babies are put into carseats for the drive home from the hospital, and often spend many hours of their early days in mechanical devices such as swings, bouncy chairs, etc rather than being held in human arms. i understand that western moms can't carry their babies around all the time- but i grieve for the human contact that these babies miss.

i carried my emma-girlie in a sling on my body much of the time for almost 3 years. i learned from Asian culture that nothing substitutes the warmth of a beating heart to a baby. i appreciate the filipino family system where everyone holds the baby, all the time. it's a beautiful thing.

nothing is perfect, of course, and there are downsides to some of this way of thinking, but for the most part, i prefer the asian way to the western way. babies are important, and they are to be held and loved and tolerated until they get old enough to understand how to behave. with gentle words and gentle handling of situations, particularly in public, they quickly learn that while freaking out may attract some negative attention, it's really not that big of a deal.