Is Filipino Parenting Style Prone to Produce Wimps?

I was moonlighting (nag-sideline) this weekend and had an interesting conversation on parenting and marital life. One of the parties was complaining that their spouse was not too involved with children’s activities. The child had just established her dominance of  a sport in her school, wanted one of the parties to come and see her play – and the standard reply was, I have to wake up early tomorrow for work. It can be such a big letdown to a child. You know, someone who you think the world of, who you adore, has no time for you and does not even make the effort to find the time for a child. And so went a laundry list of litanies – including upbringing.  

I had a eureka question – speaking of parenting and upbringing, what style of parenting do most Pinoys have – and could it be related to the type of citizens that profligate in these 7,100 islands of ours. Hmm… first stop – read up on parenting styles. Here’s what I found about parenting styles in

Developmental psychologists have long been interested in how parents impact child development. However, finding actual cause-and-effect links between specific actions of parents and later behavior of children is very difficult. Some children raised in dramatically different environments can later grow up to have remarkably similar personalities. Conversely, children who share a home and are raised in the same environment can grow up to have astonishingly different personalities than one another.

Despite these challenges, researchers have uncovered convincing links between parenting styles and the effects these styles have on children. During the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on more than 100 preschool-age children (Baumrind, 1967). Using naturalistic observation, parental interviews and other research methods, she identified four important dimensions of parenting:

  • Disciplinary strategies
  • Warmth and nurturance
  • Communication styles
  • Expectations of maturity and control

Based on these dimensions, Baumrind suggested that the majority of parents display one of three different parenting styles. Further research by also suggested the addition of a fourth parenting style (Maccoby & Martin, 1983).

The Four Parenting Styles

  1. Authoritarian Parenting
    In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, “Because I said so.” These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. According to Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation” (1991).
  2. Authoritative Parenting
    Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these parents “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” (1991).
  3. Permissive Parenting
    Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. According to Baumrind, permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation” (1991). Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent.
  4. Uninvolved Parenting
    An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill the child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children.

The Impact of Parenting Styles

What effect do these parenting styles have on child development outcomes? In addition to Baumrind’s initial study of 100 preschool children, researchers have conducted numerous other studies than have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children.

  • Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
  • Authoritive parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
  • Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.

Why Do Parenting Styles Differ?

After learning about the impact of parenting styles on child development, you may wonder why all parents simply don’t utilize an authoritative parenting style. After all, this parenting style is the most likely to produce happy, confident and capable children. What are some reasons why parenting styles might vary? Some potential causes of these differences include culture, personality, family size, parental background, socioeconomic status, educational level and religion.

Of course, the parenting styles of individual parents also combine to create a unique blend in each and every family. For example, the mother may display an authoritative style while the father favors a more permissive approach. In order to create a cohesive approach to parenting, it is essential that parents learn to cooperate as they combine various elements of their unique parenting styles.

With these in mind, I had this sort of video instant replay playing out in my mind about what parenting style is dominant among Filipinos?  So, I tried to recall how I was raised – as well as those of all the people I have come to know – friends, family, co-workers.

A typical admonition when with a toddler (a child in the development state) is

  • you better follow or your ass will be whooped, literally;
  • never question the elders (even if their logic and reasoning is faulty) – wag kang walang respeto;
  • it’s my way or the highway, I’m the one paying the bills

The long and short of it is that – most Pinoys are raised in an authoritarian environment – for short, the introduction to authoritarianism  starts within the Filipino family.

Based on my empirical observations and unscientific survey… LOL – lots of blue collar families have this idea that the best parenting style is the “Kastila style” or in Cebuano – “kinatsila”. What exactly is the “kastila” style of parenting? The “kastila style” of parenting (as described by old-times) are accentuated by any of the following behaviors:

  • Do not talk unless I say so.
  • Do not question my authority.
  • You are my property and I can do with you as you please.
  • Spare the whip and spoil the child (huwes de cochillo).
  • Do not bring shame to this family, family comes first, persons are subordinate to the “greater good” as defined by the patriarch/matriarch.

This is an obvious vestige of the feudal colonial days which I believe should die a hard death. We have so become accustomed to these behaviors that to us Pinoys, this abnormality is the norm.

We condition our children to become good authoritarian subjects. No wonder when they grow up to become citizens -they are obedient and proficient (in whatever dysfunction was embedded in their psyche), but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.

And due to the lack of an understanding of democracy – at home and in the school – we have citizens who are prone to become conformists, get easily swayed by the bandwagon – like sheeps being herded into a slaughterhouse. And those who have been hit real hard – would rather be the dictator, than the dictated. Imagine these people growing up polarized into two camps – dictator and the dictated on.

What chances does democracy have when the basic social fabric woven by the family – does not have a clue about the engine which drives democracy – free, thinking, sovereign – let me emphasize.. individuals.

My personal take is this – if we are to become a truly democratic nation – we better start teaching it at home and use a more appropriate parenting style.

Democracy begins at home.



  1. I agree with all your assertions. Filipino style parenting really is dysfuntional. They want their kids not to question them as if they know everything. You’ll be considered rebellious if you try questioning them. This kind of parenting often results to producing children who can’t think for themselves. Worse, everything they do is based on what their parents tell them. You can also say that pinoy parenting does not produce independent thinkers.

  2. I’ve had a show of this parenting style when my old woman told me that succeeding generations cannot be as smart as the ones that came before them. Idiots actually believe that to be true.

  3. Dude! You beat me to the punch! I was about to write something about how flawed Filipino family values are. Basically, I see our family values as a product of the manipulation of the friars of the Spanish era. Since they cooperated with the Spanish colonial objectives, the values they taught to Filipinos were meant to contain the people, prevent growth and forestall independent thinking. It was of course part of the colonial strategy to keep Filipinos subservient to the Spanish crown.

    Thing is, even if we’re way past this era, the values of Filipino families are much the same. Parents teach their children to be conformists, even if the thing to conform to is questionable. This is mainly for the reason of “avoiding trouble” and “growing up peacefully.” But this leads to children conforming to just anything, even useless fads. It also leads to avoidance of confrontation of vital issues and problems. Hence, our country remains stagnant and backward, and thus corruption is rampant. If our parents today apply more modern values of independent thinking and authoritative style, the quality of our people would be better. To do this, we have to discontinue many cultural memes and family traditions, such as making the children follow the career of the parents, or the tradition that the parents should appear “blameless” (by not admitting mistakes) before their children. Family values is an area needing serious reform in our country.

  4. My parents were authoritarians and learned a lot from them. I learned along the way but one thing for sure I allowed freedom of expression in my children, allowed them to express feelings of anger, happiness etc. In fact it was my eldest daughter that questioned me on my initial support to noynoy. I love my kids. The parent me. 🙂

  5. I also find it very funny that Pinoy men would continue to live with their parents even if they are already freakin past 25 years old and worse – even when they are already married! The parents would give them room in their house and they would be cramped with all their kids and stuff. I mean, grow a pair of balls man.

    I started living alone when I was 19 and worked in fast-food and even a farm. I have lived alone since then and up to now I am never dependent on anybody. I am very glad that I was subjected to circumstances that would eject me from the culture of Mama’s Boyism that has plagued Filipino men and made them wimps not only physically but emotionally and intellectually as well.

    When I was 19 and my peers were living the affluent life with their parents, they felt sorry for me because my situation was dire (I will keep it to myself for now) but now that I think of it, I was actually fortunate in a way that I experienced that because the benefits I reaped are found within me and they are not material in nature. I became like iron instead of soft driftwood like those who were babied by their mommies.

    General Mc Arthur had a prayer called Build Me a Son and I think my dad prayed this one…

    Build Me a Son
    General Douglas A. MacArthur

    Build me a son, O Lord,
    who will be strong enough to know when he is weak,
    and brave enough to face him self when he is afraid;
    one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat,
    and humble and gentle in victory.

    Build me a son whose wishbone will not be
    where his backbone should be;
    a son who will know Thee- and that
    to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

    Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort,
    but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.
    Here, let him learn to stand up in the storm;
    here, let him team compassion for those who fall.

    Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high;
    a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men;
    one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep;
    one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

    And after all these things are his,
    add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor,
    so that he may always be serious,
    yet never take himself too seriously.

    Give him humility, so that he may always remember
    the simplicity of true greatness,
    the open mind of true wisdom,
    the meekness of true strength.

    Then I, his father, will dare to whisper,
    “I have not lived in vain.”

  6. Welcome aboard Momblogger. You honor and bless us greatly with your presence here. I think I speak for everyone when I say we hope to see more of your insights here. Have a great time!

  7. hey rafterman… 🙂

    i too feel the same way. all though i left a bit later than you did (at 22), i still believe that was the one thing i did that made the biggest difference in me and i’m still raking up the dividends now.

  8. Right on Kahlil! I met this contractor (a white guy) from a termite company the other day and his wife is a Filipino. He was complaining that his wife’s brother continues to live in their house and he is already past 30. I was like.. HAS HE NO SHAME? No sense of honor? He said that he does not work and just plays with his nephews. He also did not want to study because he was lazy. At the risk of sounding immodest, he keeps inviting me to parties because he wanted to show his wife’s family that a Filipino can be someone who can keep up with the native born people of the USA only if he believes he could. Despite all the successful Pinoys around, there are a lot who suffer from the same mentality as that contractor’s brother in law. I also know of a Filipina owner of a dry cleaners in Hollywood who has a daughter and a Pinoy guy got her pregnant and this Pinoy lives in the house of that dry cleaners owner. I sometimes visit her house and it is such a pathetic sight. She lives there and so does her daughter, the loser husband and their kid. She made investments in different property so she asks my help in running them and I was thinking why does she not make that guy help her. I then learned that the guy does not know anything. Sad.

  9. Not to be critical, but one obvious issue this article doesn’t raise is the impact of broken households, of which there are quite a large number here for one reason or another.

  10. I heard some saying that , as long as you live with your parents (even after your marriage) , they will demand and expect too much of you , or else you’ll be branded a prodigal child. And if you leave the house and build your own life, they still expect you to come to them or else you’re still branded as a prodigal child. “utang na loob mo ang buhay mo sa amin” stuff. In the US, parents kick out their children(most specially the males) in order to work. In the Philippines “wag ka muna mag-asawa , di ka pa tapos sa bahay”


  11. It seems to come down to imparting a sense of entitlement. Note how saying that previous sentence out loud kinda leaves a bitter taste to your mouth? It’s because we Filipinos have been raised in varying degrees to believe that we lack an entitlement to certain things — an entitlement to an opinion, an entitlement to expressing it, and an entitlement to acting on it.

    So to actually think that having a sense of entitlement is a good thing comes across as counterintuitive — even offensive — to the average Pinoy mind. But therein lies the fundamental reason why we fail to step up to being a people who deserve their “democracy”. We simply won’t because we don’t feel right about it.

    Kawawa nga naman talaga ang Pinoy. 😀

  12. Yes, they expect too much from their children. I mean if these parents think that their life is not good enough or comfortable enough for them, they shouldn’t oblige their children to like help them or something. They shouldn’t expect anything in return.

  13. Oh yes, I can relate to this. Norma’s son came to live with us in UK as a young teenager and gradually became more obstreporous as he got older until we kicked him out. He returned all contrite then came here to Phil ahead of us and has seemed to give up the idea of working. We got here 4 years ago and he is still hanging around in the house at 31, eating, sleeping, watching TV basketball.

    Before anyone says, just kick him out, I know that if we try that blood will, literally, be spilt. For all their wimpishness, young Filipino men can be quite violent. He became that way as Norma left him at the age of 5 to work abroad, surely the reason for so many broken relationships here. He was left in the care of her brother who does the authoritarian parenting.

    I think another toxic effect of this authoritarian type of parenting is that it seems to give permission for older siblings to boss younger ones. My wife is youngest of 5 and all the brothers and her sister saw fit to dictate to her when we came here. Bless her, she learnt a lot about self assertion in UK and, as the one holding the purse strings, gave them short shrift. Doesn’t make her popular, though.

  14. Pinoys feel a sense of entitlement about the wrong things. They feel entitled to “being taken cared of” by their parents and the Government. They do not feel entitled to an opinion or the right to reason out (and act based on such reason).

  15. It does not take much courage to be violent. Real courage comes from being in control of yourself. Mental obstacles take much more strength to overcome than physical ones. Norma’s son is a weakling and a disgrace to the human species.

    I commend Norma though for asserting herself and telling her elders to go screw themselves. Keep fighting the dysfunctional culture in your own way. As for her son, If I were you I will kick him out and if he becomes violent I will simply shoot him. I will claim self-defense as my reason.

  16. hey, when i was growing up, had lots of:

    – do not question my authority
    – have some respect, im older than you
    – i have lived longer on this earth than you (or some other version)
    – its because i said so


    fortunately for me, i was the “masamang kabayo”…

    on the other hand – this conformist parenting style is NOT that different from here in Japan… Japanese society is centered upon the “preservation of the WA,” in short, conform. do not stand out… individuality is frowned upon…

    so – why is Japan more successful than the Philipppines?

  17. Their discipline, determination, “walking the talk” and work ethic outweighs their lack of individuality. Their conformity is in the right place.

  18. In Japan conformity means following the rules and behaving properly. They also have individuality there and they express it by producing cars, motorcycles and different kinds of cool gadgets.

    In Philippines conformity means throwing trash everywhere because everyone is doing it. It means pay ‘lagay’ because everyone is doing it. Their individuality is practiced by not caring about others and caring only of themselves.

    Thats the difference.

  19. Yes, I have often felt that the family In Philippines takes the place of the welfare state in Europe. In both cases there is an ultimate safety net for the unfortunate, unproductive old or young. In Europe recently it has got more difficult to avail of the safety net if you are simply lazy. I don’t think the Philippine family is yet at the point where the unproductive get kicked out. In both cases people develop a sense of entitlement. “This is my right”. It might explain why the family seemed to show no gratitude when we solved so many long-standing problems by throwing money at them..

  20. Pinoy men would continue to live with their parents even if they are already freakin past 25 years old and worse

    Guilty as charged! But I’m not married, and I’m working, even if the pay is quite part-time level. That contractor’s wife’s brother, It would be better if he was working. But all he thinks of are parties. Wala, nothing but an escape from the results of his stupidity. He can’t face his problems.

    Some Pinoy “men” (do they even be deserved to be called that?) are just so parasitic. In my family’s case, one sister married a total pest. He swindles people, borrows money but never returns it, stole some of our stuff to sell, picks fights and likes to treat squatters to drinkouts. Then they have four children, one autistic, and my sister is the breadwinner. The guy was kicked out of our house for picking a fight with me. But problem is, my sister still goes to see him. Just like a battered wife who loves a destructive relationship.:(

  21. I agree with your sentiments that young adults, especially those from an affluent family who haven’t tasted the experience of completely living independently. I have had the pleasure of it but never really took full advantage of it though I honestly want back in that situation more than anything. My younger brother however went on and never looked back. Went to study (born in philippines, raised in America) in another state (florida), did the army gig to pay for his school and became a resident so he only had to pay what the state school he went to was charging.

    I don’t honestly find that living with your parents past 20 is a bad thing as one of my best friends did it in order to save up for his wedding plans and potentially moving out. However from what I have read, those are the reasons why people end up being spineless and complacent. They never develop a desire to pursue or create goals for themselves and listen to what is safe instead.

  22. I’m in my early 30’s and I remember when I was growing up I was being told of different kinds of “pamahiin’s” by different people (older) around me, forced to have afternoon naps, the threat’s of severe punishment if I don’t abide by the “rules”. And I guess the one thing that really stands out is “respetohin mo ang nakakatanda sayu”. If you were to follow most of those things you are probably going to grow up to be a lazy and stupid person… I used to buy into the respect your elders thing but I also find that respect is a two way street… courtesy I think is the most appropriate word for that saying. I would always show courtesy to most people wether older or younger but respect is something most people would have to earn. Filipino’s even at a young age are trained to be followers. If we want our country to change we should teach our children to be leaders.

  23. Right on Frandaman.

    Had the same experience myself – fortunately, I was such a precocious kid who can’t be whipped into submission.

  24. I had a different angle on that experience. I was in second grade — my dad guessed correctly that my teacher wouldn’t know how to spell “liquefy” (with “e”) and he showed me how to ask the leading questions to walk my teacher into the trap. Sure enough when I went thru the steps (first to ask how to spell “liquid”), I “proved” that my teacher had the wrong spelling for “liquefy”.

    What happened next was more important —- my classmates tormented me for two weeks for even thinking, much less claiming, that there was one word I could spell right that my teacher couldn’t..

  25. There is no right mix in bringing up a person to be an upright citizen more so creative ones. The strong current of negative social, economic environment including religious mythycal dogma is too much to swim against. A teen, an age when they are the most idealistic, is hammered in all directions. Parents bribing city hall officials to get deed of title done quickly; “law-abiding citizens short-changing BIR of gains tax; buyers agrees to understating deed of sale; elders rationalizing these actions and others with “that is how life is”. “Confess your sins so God will for give you”

    My unscientific study shows that 35-years-old and older are beyond redemption. Corruptions has seeped beneath the skin into their bones. Immorality became moral in the name of survival and race to become the wealthiest in the community. They even have the gall to brag and laugh about getting away with the law. These are the age-group who hone their english to intimidate the younger ones. These are the age-group that read to learn the use of arcane, esoteric, mysterious words; quoting dead medieval philosopher to scare younger and lesser educated ones.

  26. Seniors living in retirement houses give US a bum rap. However, it could be worse when living with relatives.

    The attitude of Western senior citizens is that they want to retain their independence even until their twilight years. They treasure their independence so much – and the privacy of their children so much – that they save up for retirement. You’ll be amazed at the retirement communities that have been sprouting recently. These caters to the retiring baby boomers and empty nesters. The communities keep busy with activities – there are staff whose job is to come up with programs and activities to keep seniors active and healthy.

    In contrast when you are living with relatives – Marami kang pakikisamahan. maraming naaabala. Maraming tsismis. Maraming umuutang – ok lang kung may perang makuha sa iyo kung wala na, naglalaho parang bula.

  27. Ouch…. 26 and counting…. I have a job too though. Also not married. Don’t wanna be a basement dweller!

    Been raised a wimp all my life, too… sad. But I am slowly learning from people and experience. Kind of a slow starter, eh.

  28. If we are raising a generation of so-called wimps, who are going to lead this country to unknown territories of excellence, integrity & creativity?

    It all boils to one foundational precept in the Bible:
    Proverbs 22:6
    Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

  29. They simply cannot thk for themselves. They are followers, not leaders. They parrot what their parents told them, worship america, watch the mainstream TV/”news” papers and regurgitate what they are instructed to believe. It’s sad really. As a filipina, I am ashamed.

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