Rearing kids

Orly Mercado

Posted on August 6, 2006

Keeping their guard up

We were having lunch with close friends. My wife Susy was doting over the four year old “master” of the lives, our son, Renzo. The conversation drifted to the topic of rearing of children. Because we live abroad, we talked about the pros and cons of rearing a child in a different environment.

We have always found the insights of the couple we were dining with as valuable. More so on this topic. They related the story of an American who chose to rear his children in the Philippines than in the United States. It is expected that the reason for such was that they had relatives in the Philippines. There was however, another reason.

The guy said that his children may be growing up in an environment where there are many uncertainties but there is a good side to it. Concerns about security, accidents, or calamities are real and ever present. It is for this reason that their kids are always in touch. They stay connected. In a country with 28 million mobile phones, that is not hard to do. Their guard is always up. They may be less trusting but more alert. One cannot become streetwise in a sanitized environment. I thought of how complacent most Japanese are about their personal security because of their low crime rate. They have also become easy victims of petty or sometimes serious crimes while abroad.

The other reason is the closely knit and extended Filipino family. Being connected to an extended family means greater security. And this does not only apply to personal security. Statistics from California I recently came across indicates that among minorities in the United States, the Filipinos have a low poverty incidence. This is attributed to the existence of the safety net the extended family provides.

Modernization may now be changing many extended families, but in developing societies, they continue to exist. Although the means of interpersonal communication are no longer the same. Ogden Nash once said: “A family is a unit composed not only of children, but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.” The transfer of the common cold virus obviously requires face to face communication. To keep one’s guard up, the mobile phone will do.

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