There was a time when speaking about politics, mental health, gender identity, and maybe taste in pop culture were difficult to express at home. Some opinions were hard to convey when this was instilled in your mind: it’s bastos or rude for children to talk back to older people, especially their parents.
The present world where Gen-Z and younger Millennials live has an arguably big difference compared to their parents. While some are still raised in a conventional way, others are lucky to have those that understand the fine line between being disrespectful and just rightfully arguing their point.
Even if kids these days have more freedom to share their thoughts, it still must be heavily engrained that this shouldn’t lead to them responding obnoxiously. Below, parents reveal how “talking back” actually helps them communicate better with their children.
Been there, done that
Since your parents were once teenagers before, they knew what it’s like to hold in long-kept sentiments and also the urge to let it out. *Pete, a father of two sons, said he wasn’t as open with his parents compared to his relationship with his kids since he grew up in a “different time in life”.
He said, ‘Things to discuss just weren’t as openly there so to speak as it is now. Our children have a different experience with us compared to myself and my own parents and that in my opinion is healthier and better.’
Other parents like *Celine, a mom of one daughter and son, said she was fortunate to have parents who encouraged dialogue and respectfully speaking up, even if her grandparents had a different way of raising their children.
She elaborated, ‘I did try to reason out and on occasion, I may have been unintentionally impatient-sounding but I try to voice my thoughts with respect as much as possible.’
The relationship she had with her parents affected her parenting style, ‘I think I’m more open and less strict, although my parents’ way of having dialogues with us, their daughters, paved the way for me to have these conversations with my own kids – I think I just improved on it a little more.’
*Kris, a mom with an only daughter, admitted that she did talk back to her aunts – the people who raised her – but mentioned how fear was present in their home, which made no avenue for her to communicate how she felt.
She said, ‘I keep [my thoughts] to myself na lang kasi there really is no chance for me to say it. Yung takot kasi talaga yung nandun. It’s better to shut up and just go with the flow.’
She added, ‘But now, I do think it is important so I would know my child’s opinion, or side of the story. It helps me understand her better rather than assume what she feels or thinks.’
Parents can change, too
It’s hard to imagine living at a time when you couldn’t express what’s on your mind with one click of a button for the whole (digital) world to hear. If anyone knows what that feels like, it’s probably some parents of today’s generation. They’re the ones who ensured that their kids won’t have to go through the same situation as them.
While these said parents can be considered “cool”, they still make sure that their kids won’t get away with being too comfortable with how they respond. Pete said, ‘I find that when discussions get heated and words are thrown our way by our kids, we would all have the same reaction – worry, and shock.’
However, Pete did make an excellent point by saying that it’s alright as long as the talks are grounded on reason and critical thinking. In their family, it’s always a discussion – meaning both sides get to talk and listen.
He continued, ‘It’s always a good practice to hear the other side so as not to present ourselves as too righteous and pushy.’
Celine said that she usually asks for her children’s reasons in case they did something she doesn’t agree with. She also shared, ‘The tone of voice and manner of speaking matter – so as long as my children try to reason out calmly and with no intention to be rude purposely, then I welcome any feedback or insight from them.’
Kris added that a person’s parenting style is a reflection of the mental effects of one’s upbringing, both good and bad. She explained, ‘I appreciate the way we talk about mental health today… It kinda explains a lot kung bakit ganito yung nararamdamaman ko.’
‘Nadadala mo rin talaga kasi yung mga hindi mo nasabi or nailabas hanggang pagtanda mo,’ she added. ‘There’s the insecurity, inferiority, may impact talaga siya pag hindi napag usapan, walang closure.’
Here’s how healthy discussions start
There’s nothing more comforting than knowing that you can confide in people who make an effort to understand you. A lesson learned from these parents is that avoiding harsh backtalks starts with practicing good communication with children.
Pete said that he and his wife have daily talks with their children. He shared, ‘Our kids are often open to sharing and vocalizing their thoughts and feelings.’
He elaborated, ‘Our youngest [son] has bipolar disorder so we really do try to be more attentive to his emotions and his thoughts as he struggles from his situation. But for the most part, even our eldest confides in us and we are thankful for that.’
Meanwhile, Celine said she also spends time with her children anytime they have meals together or during spontaneous moments at home. She said, ‘I love talking to my kids, I find it enjoyable and I learn a lot from them.’
‘My husband – their dad – and I try to make sure we have an open line of communication with them,’ she added. ‘We also try to understand where they’re coming from as much as we can.’
For Kris, she usually sets a special bonding day with her daughter since they live in a separate house. She shared, ‘Usually we talk about everything, no fuss, no pressure, parang magkaibigan lang… We make the best out of it. Mga marites kami ganun.’
* The names of the participants were changed to maintain anonymity.
Banner edited by Bea Zaragoza