Toxic Behaviors in Filipino Families in Modern Times

The family is undoubtedly an integral part of everyone’s life, but even more so here in the Philippines, where tradition has established the value of their close relationship with their family. In fact, most Filipino families are so intimate that they rarely mean only a direct family: mother, father, or sibling. Instead, they can also mean it to include their relatives or the whole family clan.

They say growing up in a Filipino family is more frequently than not a fun experience — the karaoke and sing-a-long sessions with your titos and titas (uncles and aunts) and the weekend salo-salo while playing with your cousins. However, it usually does not come without a fair amount of drama.

I am not saying this happens to each family for every Filipino, but, yes, it happens! And while misunderstandings and quarrels within the family are somehow normal, what if someone in your family member is, unfortunately, toxic? We all know there is a love and hate relationship we all have with our families. 

We have all experienced the struggle between saying and doing what we actually know is expected of us V.S. what we personally feel we should say or do. It’s basically one of the reasons why meeting some family members during vacation is so annoying sometimes.

You’re Wrong, I’m right (Papunta ka pa lang, pabalik na ako)

Have you actually tried to have a rational conversation with a family member of an older generation? It is practically impossible to make a point without being instantly dismissed sometimes. Wisdom has been brought to them over the years, but knowledge can and sometimes should be corrected. Right? What was correctly accepted at the time may no longer apply today. Moreover, it cannot just be the elders that take every Facebook headline and video as actual news, right? 

During Our Time.. (Noong panahon namin..)

This trait is commonly characterized by someone ahead of your generation. It keeps comparing some things and the so-called “truths” of their time with the younger generation. Whenever there’s something that differs, they see it as something “not right.”

For instance, older people say that the younger generation is “very sensitive” because they genuinely experienced worse during their time. Why is it toxic? It usually disregards the fact that what worked before may no longer work now. In addition, it is typically a way to invalidate someone else’s feelings.

You Can Really Do It (Kayang-kaya mo naman eh)

The toxic expectation of giving and providing just because you really can. Most Filipino people usually understand the idea that helping family members is something they should be glad to have the opportunity to provide and give, but they also need to look out for themselves, as well, because not everything around you can be a handout. Yes, there is a payoff with helping others to the recurrence they ask for it: You risk holding out for your own growth. 

Why Don’t You Be Like..( Bakit ‘di mo gayahin si..)

This trait is characterized by being reprimanded for something. They want you to follow someone who shows what they are looking for. So, in the end, you get compared to someone. For example, a parent scolding their third son for not having a high grade in school and telling him to be like his older brother, who always lands on the honor list.

So, why is this toxic? There is an opinion that you are inferior to the person you are compared to you in that perspective. It reduces the fact that each has its own uniqueness.

Where Are The Grandchildren? (Nasan na ang mga apo?)

No further explanation is needed for every Filipino in this. However, marriage and having children are still considered an integral part of life in some families. I know someone who had an aunt complaining during their family reunion that there were not enough children running around; she then asked why the next generation in the family was not as extensive as she thought it would be today.

However, their need to have grandchildren is not something they should feel obligated to meet. Furthermore, they somehow always only pressure relatives of child-bearing age that are not their own kids. 

Seniority Does Not Always Make You Right (Bawal Magtuwiran)

Just because you are old does not mean that you are right. Needless to say, the more experienced people get smarter, but it’s not automatic. They should remember that elderly people are also human beings, so they are bound to make mistakes each time. So, to all parents out there, whenever you make a mistake, and your children call you out for it, do not get angry since they are finite.

However, everyone must remember that we should learn from our mistakes. There is actually a proper forum for telling elderly people about their mistakes. So, if the circumstances call for it, feel free to remind the elders of their mistakes, but of course, with respect and the intention to educate.

What Do You Mean You Wanna Rule Your Own Life? (Leaving Your Parents House At An Early Age)

In other countries, they expect their offspring to leave home when they grow up, specifically at the age of 18, but Filipino families keep them for the rest of their lives until they are taken away by marriage and taken elsewhere. And even if it is perfectly fine living with their parents (to think, it’s less expensive), they still hold it over their heads that they live under their roof—which means following their own rules. My.House.My.Rules. So, the usual question they ask is, “when are we truly free to be our very own person?”

Passion (Pressure of Taking Popular Jobs)

That makes nothing here in the Philippines! No matter how good you are at creative skills, your parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, and all their neighbors may be advising you to consider a degree or career that applies to sciences. Their logic is surely intact; it is no secret that the lawyers, nurses, engineers, and doctors of us probably take home more bread (money). But we all know there’s a world to be explored ahead of these routes. There are actually jobs now that were not even an option when they were young, and they would not know how to approach, explore or understand them. 

Conclusion | Final Thoughts

Under the toxic behaviors in Filipino families: how they view politics, how numb they get when the trend settles down, how they have been raised to just accept situations and things as they really are, the debatable feature of resiliency—and, if you ask a Filipino, it is that last bit that needs correcting; it’s the catalyst they need to change the rest of it.

Not only do we know that things have to change and the courage to point it out, but it is also the way they present themselves as well. Just because these toxic expectations are dug into their culture does not mean they should disrespect those that propagate them. Instead, you need to approach some sensitive topics sensitively, correct? Everyone needs to make it like they are still on the same team. 

It will take an amount of patience on their part, especially for younger Filipinos…but they have actually been trained for this their whole lives. What better time to try to have a healthy discussion?

There are several ways someone can be toxic to you, but ultimately, it all boils down to these points—if they bring you down, hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself, mainly if they do it habitually, they are probably toxic. They’re not good for you. And this is truly a big challenge when it happens with a family member. 

Regina and Joe

Hello! It's Regina and Joe here. Like many other couples, we met online and after a long-distance relationship, Joe decided to move to the Philippines, where we married and live together since 2017. In this blog, we will teach you how to enjoy the Philippines to the fullest and what to expect from Filipino culture. Who more than us can understand both the West and the East?

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