Generate love

Published on December 21, 2014


Generate love

An expert talks about building strong relationships with the senior members of the family

by Maan D’Asis Pamaran

October 13, 2013


When I was growing up, I always knew that there was one place to go whenever I needed or wanted anything. My paternal grandmother always welcomed me with open arms, an open kitchen — and dare I say it — an open wallet. She had a little restaurant and would ply me with mami and siopao until I was full to bursting, and would press a bill or two in my hand before I go home, in case I needed something for school.

That is not to say that those were the only reasons for my frequent visits. I just loved hanging around my Lola Chick (short for Intsik, not considered inappropriate back then) because she would tell me a lot of interesting stories of old China, which was one of the factors why I took up Asian Studies in college.

In the Philippine context of extended families, the relationship between grandparent and apo is often very close. This is the reason why many Pinoys relate to commercials that highlight this, such as the current Downtown and the oldie Karen ads, both from the same fast food company.  Ali Gui, mainstay relationship counselor for the new GMA News TV show “Love Hotline,” gives a rundown of the official lolo and lola roles: “Grandparents often become a family’s first reserves in times of any form of crisis. They can act as fun playmates, role models, and family historians, mentors, and help establish self-esteem and security for children.”


Gimme, grandma!

As it goes, a grandparent can afford to lavish time, attention, and er, resources on their grandkids – they are usually removed from the rat race that the parents are still embroiled in, thus can give in to that inclination to spoil the little munchkins.


Though the elders mean well, this can be a point of contention between the parents and the grandparents. “Many grandparents see spoiling the grandkids as their role.  It gives them great pleasure to be generous to their grandkids and see their faces light up when they are.  If you can, I would advise accepting a bit of the spoiling. Just be grateful your children have loving adults in their lives,” says Gui.

If the parents are concerned about the deluge of material gifts, Gui advises treading carefully. “They can tactfully say that their 10-year-old may not be ready for an expensive game gadget as it may take away from study time.”


Generational gaps

Another issue that can be a source of conflict between parents and grandparents is discipline.  Things are a little different now with the digital generation – “kids should be seen and not heard” is no longer an accepted mantra in modern parenting. “Grandparents don’t always see eye to eye with their adult children on the topic, saying ‘nung panahon ko, bawal yan’. A common complaint from grandparents is that their grandkids are allowed to run wild, and the parents are so afraid of upsetting them and triggering off a tantrum, that they let the kids do whatever they want,” Gui shares.

She advises, “Since they are not the actual parents, the lolos and lolas can only hope that over time their children will see the wisdom of setting and enforcing — age-appropriate rules and limits. But if parents let their children treat them with disrespect, grandparents can step in and say that lolo or lola won’t tolerate rude behavior such as talking back to their elders.”

What visiting grandparents can do is simply act as advisers, but they are free to enforce their own rules when the kids are on their turf. “They can caution the kids against jumping on the sofa, or eating too much junk, even if this is allowed in their own homes,” Gui says.


Bonding activities

There are so many things that can strengthen a bond between grandparent and apo. While having a grandkid may inspire our senior citizens to be more active, advancing age may prevent a vigorous play day. Here are some things that they can enjoy together:

Story time. Lolo and Lola can be a rich source of stories about the child’s heritage. The grandparents can talk about what their childhood was like before the advent of gaming consoles and the internet.

Arts, crafts, and cooking. Lolo may teach the child to make non-tech toys such as a kite or a paper boat. Lola can pass on family heirloom recipes, or maybe give the kids a headstart on Home Economics projects such as crochet and cross stitch.

Tech tutorial. Since kids today are quite tech savvy, they can teach lolo or lola a thing or two about social networking. That way, they can exchange messages or video calls even if the grandparent is away.

Gardening. If the grandparent has a green thumb, maybe they can plant veggies or even fruit bearing trees. This can be a lasting legacy for the young ones who will continue to appreciate what they have planted together even in the years to come.

Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues

Written by:

Lillian Ng Gui

Registered Psychologist and Psychometrician.
Child Psychotherapist at SLU-Sunflower on the Hill.
Member, Board of Trustees at Alliance Graduate School
Official Consultant and Relational Life Coach, Psychologist/Counselor of Survivor Philippines, and GMA News TV
Teaching position at Asian Center for Missions
Member of Psychological Association of The Philippines (PAP)
Member of Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association (PGCA)
Member of American Psychological Association (APA)
Member of International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD)

Lillian Ng Gui belongs to Psychological Association of the Philippines in Philippines

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