Sure, you are a fully-grown adult by now, with a spouse and a house full of children, or maybe just one or two. You are, at least I hope, paying your own mortgages and bills. You drink beer and wine. You are an adult capable of deciding for yourself. Yay!
But who are we kidding, we all know that doesn’t stop our parents from meddling into our affairs.
Here in the Philippines, families traditionally have close ties. You basically live with your parents forever. That’s not just because you cannot afford another place, but because you just cannot leave them to live on their own or on some retirement home.
Some choose to still live separately, especially if they already have their own families. They’d get the nearest possible place to their parents’ home. I think this is the most ideal setup. The mommy and daddy should have the full control over what’s happening in their home. They should have the full authority and responsibility over their children, because that’s how a family grows and gets strong. But these are hard to achieve if close relatives live with you, yes, including Grandpa and Grandma.
I am not an expert and I did not conduct any research about the mental or psychological impact living with close relatives have on children. I once read an article about how Grandmas live longer by spending more time with their granchildren. I cannot say of course if it’s legit, you know, you can’t believe everything the Internet says just because it has an “experts say” or “studies have shown” phrase.
Also, I don’t want to be the person who believes in something just because “many people say”, or “moms swear by this…” I’d rather trust my own experience, or if none, my own instinct. And right now, both my experience and my guts tell me that it will be better for my own family to have a place of our own.
I still live with my mother. I have the confidence to tell you how that kind of setup would make you question yourself as a parent and slowly destroy you. You will never be a good enough parent with your mother behind you, complaining and criticizing in every way she can. I want to understand her, that she’s just doing it because she wants us to be better parents. But you know what makes me mad about her constant criticism on our parenting style? It’s the fact that she never raised me herself. She was working full time when I was my son’s age. She left me with nannies and aunties. It’s the hypocrisy and irony of it all. She thinks she knows a better way to do something, but how could she? She’s never even done it before. I can say all of this because I pride myself on being a hands-on mom. So I think, between the two of us, I’m the one who can say how things should be done.
I spent more time with my child than any other person in this world. I can decipher his every breath, every movement. He may not be able to pronounce every word correctly, and he may not be able to express what he really thinks in a normal way, but I do understand whatever he’s trying to say. Only I know that secret language. You know what I mean, moms? That is why I get really taken aback when someone underestimates my mothering skills. That’s why it irritates me when my mother thinks she knows better about my own child.
I also felt belittled once, when I was scolding my son and my mom was at the same time scolding me for it. What the? How is your child supposed to see you as an authority figure when he sees that someone else is raising voices at you? You are supposed to be the one your child looks up to for guidance. How can he trust you to be of guidance, when he starts to think you don’t have a clue on what you’re doing? Like, “Oh, Grandma is scolding Mommy because Mommy is wrong, and all these time I thought Mommy was supposed to be always right.”
I don’t get why she felt the need to interfere. It’s not like I’m torturing my son with physical and verbal abuse. I was simply explaining what he did wrong, its consequences, and what we should do about it. I admit it’s not in a calm, reassuring tone but rather, in a strict and firm voice.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my mom so much and she has proven herself to be right about most things, especially what’s best for me. I just don’t accept that she thinks she still is right mostly about what’s best for my son.
There’s a fine line between being a parent and being a grandparent. What do you think?