*Disclaimer: Please understand that I mean no offense whatsoever. I am going to talk very generally about the Filipino culture based on my own experience with it. I’m not an expert on it at all. I recognize that one’s culture is only part of oneself, and that each individual is different. And that in some cases I may be mistaking cultural difference for personality differences. The same goes for American or any other culture. Thanks!
Our Personal Backgrounds: I’m Caucasian American. My fiancée was born and raised in the Philippines (and is of Filipino descent). He came to America when he was about 14, and recently became an American citizen. We’re both 24 now, and have been together 4 years.
I’ve known for awhile that culture has an impact on who you are, what you believe, etc. I guess I just did not realize how big of an impact it made. I’ve always thought I was pretty open-minded. I love learning about other cultures. But lately I’ve come to the realization that perhaps I am a bit biased towards my own American culture.
An Experience with my MIL:
Now, I love my fiancé’s family. They have always been warm and welcoming towards me. I get along very well with his mom, especially. We are very alike in our personalities.
However, a few weeks ago she said something that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. We were sitting, chatting away about things. She told me how she likes to have her children close to her, to make sure that they are safe and well fed and everything. And how she wishes they would stay living with her. (My fiancé had just moved out of his parents’ house) Then she said, “I think I make a better mother than a white one.”
I was pretty stunned by that comment. I didn’t say anything, but I had a lot of thoughts going through my head. I thought: If she thinks Filipino mothers are better, what is she going to think of my mothering when the time comes?
My first thoughts were along the lines of: How is her way of mothering any better? My mom was and still is wonderful! What’s wrong with the “white” way of mothering. American mothers send their children away from home because they want them to be independent. They want them to learn to support themselves and become adults! It doesn’t mean they don’t want their children with them or that they are bad parents!
Then, I started thinking… What is the best way of mothering? I thought back to my Anthropology 101 class, in which we learned about the problem of anthropologists being biased towards their own culture in making judgments about others.
I reminded myself that no one culture is better than another, and that I should not judge another culture based on my American standards. The Filipino way of mothering (or at least her way) is no better or worse than the American (white) way. Just different. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as I recognize it.