American Moms & Filipino Husbands – Friend(s) Needed

Bridget - posted on 04/10/2012 ( 12 moms have responded )

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I am looking for some online friends who I relate to & vent with. My poor husband is sick of hearing me complain about his family. I guess I can’t really blame him on that. I’d get tired of it if I wear in his shoes. And since it is so culture specific I need someone in the same type of situation. Sorry lovely Filipina mommy need-not apply. You will not understand to the same degree as an American mommy as being repeated told by my mother-in-law that I am a bad mom. Simply because I don’t do it the “Filipino way”.



I do wonder. Has she ever thought if I told her all the things she did were wrong, not because my ped disagreed w/ her opinion, or times have changed, but simply because she did it “the Filipino way” it was therefore wrong. How she would feel. If I could go back in time to when she was a young mother, bring her here to America and tell her every aspect of her mothering was wrong because it wasn’t “American”, how she would feel.



I very much need a friend before I explode.

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Eve - posted on 01/24/2013

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"Sorry lovely Filipina mommy need-not apply. You will not understand to the same degree as an American mommy as being repeated told by my mother-in-law that I am a bad mom. Simply because I don't do it the 'Filipino way.' " So sad... Maybe you can use a friend who can help you see it from the other culture's perspective. However, it's not as simple as the "Filipino way" vs. the "American way." Lumping ALL people of a specific race and being intolerant of their culture is simply RACIST. My MIL is Puerto Rican (so technically "American") and she makes me feel like I am a bad mom because I don't do things HER way, not necessarily the "Puerto Rican way." There will always be disagreements between parents and in-laws in EVERY culture, even within the same culture. Obviously, when it comes to your child's health and safety, you MUST stand your ground (i.e., do NOT give Tylenol if your child doesn't have a fever; ALWAYS have your li'l one in a carseat; and the cupping thing/"sepo" may have disturbing psychological effects -- my parents NEVER did that so you can't generalize that it's a "Filipino thing"). Believe me, I've pulled up medical articles, etc. on my iphone to show my mom AND MIL that the research facts don't back up their old-wives tales. There were so many points discussed so maybe I can give you a little insight, and help you pick your battles:
1.) spoon feeding children -- I think this may be MIL's way to feel nurturing; I'd say something like "My son is so proud of being a big boy! Show grandma you can eat all by yourself! Aren't you proud of him?" The trick is to keep it positive and turn this into an opportunity for grandparents to brag about their grandkids. When my parents & in-laws worry that we're not feeding them enough or the "right" foods, then I go back to what their pediatrician says -- that they're healthy, and they're getting the proper nutrition, and that's what matters.
2.) greetings -- When we visit my husband's LARGE family, we are expected to make the rounds to give everyone hugs & kisses before we even take our coats off and have a seat. It doesn't matter if we go to them or they come to us as long as everyone gets greeted. If you're busy in the kitchen, that's when your husband could say something like "She'd love to come out and welcome you, but she's trying to make sure the food doesn't burn, LOL. C'mon, let's go to her and see what's cooking." Now, to explain the "blessings," the Filipino culture is very family-oriented, and holds special reverence towards the elders. Most Filipinos cannot understand how most Americans can just leave their elders in a nursing home. Stop being ungrateful and recognize all the sacrifices they have made throughout their lives to put family first. That is their greatest achievement, and in my opinion, is deserving of respect. When your children are grown up, wouldn't YOU want them and your grandchildren to hold you in such high regard? My family never forced my children to do the "blessings" gesture, but I do teach them that it is one of many ways to show respect for elders because family and respect are good morals to instill.
3.) "Pinoy Pride" -- Yes, every time my parents go on vacation, I can expect another shirt. And yes, my in-laws also get us "Boricua Pride" souvenirs. BFD, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. I let my parents see my kids wearing THEIR gifts and let my in-laws see my kids with THEIR gifts at least once and they're all happy. In the beginning, it was like a competition between the in-laws on raising our kids "Filipino" vs "Puerto Rican." I raise my children to be proud of their heritage from both sides. Just an idea: maybe you can get your in-laws a shirt that says "Kiss me, my daughter-in-law's Irish (or whatever your ethnicity is)." Make sure you give them a smooch when they do wear it to show you appreciate them accepting your culture.
4.) talking in their native language -- I agree talking about someone behind their back right in front of their face is rude and insulting. I used to get upset when my in-laws had conversations in Spanish but I realized they didn't mean anything malicious when they would turn to me and include me in their conversation not realizing they were speaking to me in Spanish; and vice-versa, my family would have conversations in Tagalog and not even realize they're speaking to my husband in Tagalog. What's so funny though is that Tagalog and Spanish are very similar so we understand each other. My MIL will talk to me in Spanish and I'll reply in Tagalog or my mom will talk to my husband in Tagalog and he'll reply in Spanish. It gets even more hilarious when we try to translate for our Caucasian sisters-in-law who only speak English, because some things do get lost in translation. Give them the benefit of the doubt -- maybe they just feel more comfortable speaking in their native language. Add to that how some Filipinos think it's pretentious and stuck-up to speak to another Filipino in English, so they're basically between a rock and a hard place in trying not to offend the 10 Filipinos in the room vs 1 Caucasian. Would YOU try to speak in Filipino if there was 1 Filipino and 10 Caucasians in the room?
4.) speaking through the children -- OMG, this is SO annoying! And no, it's not a "Filipino thing" because my outspoken, opinionated Puerto Rican MIL does it WAY more than my mom. Thank goodness my husband's the family clown so whenever they do this, he just speaks in my kid's voice "tell grandma she's crazy!" or "oh no! the world's going to end because we didn't do it grandma's way!" and that usually gets them to laugh and back off.
5.)discipline -- the most important thing is that you and your husband are on the same page or you run the risk of your in-laws putting you against each other. My mother and I actually had a falling out after she disciplined my child (who was 2 yrs old at the time) for tearing up my youngest brother's Pokemon cards. It sounds stupid, but it was the principle I was fighting for. I let her know that I AM THE PARENT, it is nobody's job to discipline my child except mine & my husband's, and I refused to visit again until she apologized. We eventually made up because they couldn't stand not being able to see their grandkids. Now, we've come to the agreement that she will let me know if the kids misbehave and I will deal with their punishments as I see fit. My MIL is on the opposite extreme and tends to spoil our kids. As long as she's not undermining our authority, I can let the little things go. I actually have my sister-in-law to thank because she's always fighting with her mom about spoiling my nephew and undermining my sister-in-law to the point that my nephew used to call his grandma "Mami." My sister-in-law basically put her back in her place and said "I AM THE MOM, NOT YOU, WHAT I SAY GOES." I'm sure my MIL doesn't want a repeat of that so she's more careful about overstepping her boundaries with us.

Sorry I wrote WAY TOO MUCH, but I felt I had to disspell some of the stereotypes and break that cycle. It's all about keeping an open mind, understanding where the other's coming from, that not one culture is "better" than the other, agreeing to disagree as long as we respect our differences, and remembering that at the end of the day we all want what's best for the children. One final word, I recently overheard my mom and MIL talking about how worried they were about my parenting skills in the beginning, but now that they see how well we've raised our children (they are now 13 and 7), they're not so worried anymore. It just reminded me that no matter how grown up I am I will always be their child, and they do see it their duty to teach me how to raise my children. Just remember, it will get better over time...in the meantime, I'm here if you need to vent, and perhaps I can offer some fresh eyes...

Danny - posted on 01/11/2013

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Hi Moms,

I have read all the postings on these thread. A typical Filipina MIL always does what you have described. To them they see it as their duty to teach her children (daughters) and in your case daughter-in-law how to raise a child. My wife, a Filipina (I'm a Filipino too, btw) is never been exempted. I understand that it is not easy because we felt we loose the opportunity to attend our babies needs. So when bath/meal time comes around we let the grand mother do it if she wishes too. When she's around we do it the way she want it. When my mother (my wifes MIL, :) ) become at ease we added variation if appropriate. My wife resent my mom at first but I told her, I understand the situation completely however it seems to me that my mom loves her grand children more than her children (thus they become spoiled to their grand-parents on both sides). Well I remember one time I talked about my mother regarding this and let my wife do what she is supposed to do for the baby but she blurted out that she'd raised four babies and now all adults to my suprised she further said, she knew it was my wife's idea and told me that I can find another wife again and again but I won't be able to find another mother. Yep difficult to answer but the fact still remains that when you've got married you would raised the children as well as the grand parents. LOL. The most important thing is that there is a meeting of minds and complete understanding between the husband and the wife. What my wife did is simply asked questions and played dumb with regards to giving bath and preparing meals instead of arguing. Example, is this right? Is it ok for the baby to have it? Etc. Nowadays our babies our older they are teens now, 17 and 15 and the youngest is 10. My sisters sometimes teased my wife and says they felt sometimes they are the in-laws (daughter) because my mom love her more than theirs. Friction between family members do occurs but it's a matter of forgiving and understanding.

With regards to rubbing and cups of hand, well naturally when male babies are born they have a large scrotum (sometime it appears as full as if it contains water) as the babies grow older part of it goes up and those cases that did't is called hernia and have to be corrected surgically or the doctors will push those up. It is passed down from generation to generation whether it has a medical significance or not that would save's the baby later in his life. In the 70s' they used stones and wrap in cloth and briefly applies to the balls or scrotum. The normal scrotum size is in proportion to the babies body. For female babies they applied the same technique, rubs the palm fast and applies it in the cl1toris while it is warm. LOL It has to be done according to my mom so that cl1ts is not protruding out from the labia majora and when they grow older even if they wear bikini and wet it won't be there. Now as I have said, I don't know if there is any medical significance on it and yet I did it because there's no harm in doing so. The tagalog term for it is, "sepo". My wife will chased me with a pillow if I jokingly rub my palm and say sepo.

I hope that somehow my post helps otherwise I'm sorry. I wish all the best for you and your family. God bless you all.

Bridget - posted on 05/16/2012

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I tried responding to this earlier, the silly thing wouldn’t let me. So, sorry for the delay but here are my thoughts. One thing I have learned is that you do have to pick your battles. If is it something that does not harm the child physically/psychologically/emotionally and is just a difference in custom then it might be an area to consider caving over. I agree I’d want to be the first one to give my new baby a bath but in the Philippines (from what I understand) the constant bathing is the way they keep cool & not smelly in the very hot & humid climate where things like air conditioning exist only for the extremely wealthy. I found it odd that my in-laws kept using a sort of plastic dish tub thing and large plastic “dipper” – I can’t recall the tagalog name for it to wash the children inside the tub. I kept saying, why don’t you just put water IN the tub & wash them that way? But, that is the way they learned to do and the other was how I learned to do it. Neither way is wrong they are just different. I finally gave up on arguing with the bath thing when I would pick up the kids and they would be washed already & just figure, well, one less thing for me to do tonight!

The thing about your MIL and your sons testicals is another story. Either you or your husband will need to speak with her about whatever she may have done previously and whatever her beliefs about it may be, the fact is science would conclude that is not correct. But more importantly, people like police and doctors would find her behavior very inappropriate and may wish to see her put in jail for it because they wouldn’t understand her reasoning. So, for her own safety, she needs to never, ever, EVER do that again. Because if someone outside of the family ever found out somehow, all it would take is a phone call to the child authorities for a very big mess to happen. And you would never want that for her over something so silly.

Likewise, the carseat, it a battle I would ABSOLUTELY argue over. As in, you don’t comply with my wishes, you don’t get to visit with my child unless I am present. You don’t need to agree with my opinion, but I am the parent and these are my rules. I know you would NEVER want anything to happen to your grandchild and neither do I. That is why this is so important to me. Then I would give the information. Here is a great site if you have Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/#!/childpassengersafety

And, finally, yeah… I have no idea why they let kids get away with things like they do. I have yet to get a clear understanding of that one. My MIL refuses to punish my children even when they are clearly naughty. I tell her to give them a time out, etc as appropriate. Nothing. And when we punish our children for something, she yells at us for being too harsh! Mind you it is something like taking privileges from our older child….. ugh! Really? How else will she learn?

Good luck!

Amanda - posted on 04/21/2012

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I am here for you mama. I am white my husband is Filipino. They have some weird traditions and I have some too but if I want to do my tradition then they say it's stupid and try to over power me to make me not do it. One of my traditions is when a child reaches 6 months old then you go outside with their diaper on and in a high chair and let them taste chocolate pudding (made with their formula), well when I was doing that with my daughter they were so angry they didn't even come outside to watch her have fun and get all messy, barely any got in her mouth lol. One of their traditions is to ALWAYS give them a bath, morning and night or whenever they are sweaty (ugh) and ONLY the way my mother-in-law gives my children a bath is best and they love it. DUH I am their parent, I know how to bathe and I know they love it. I have a 7 year old daughter and when my son was born she was like "oh do you want me to show you how to give him a bath?" or "don't give him a bath, I will do it when you come over". I told her "I know how to give him a bath and I want to be the first to give him a bath". She is really sweet most of the time but some times it's over whelming. My husband's step dad is white so when they married my mother-in-law was very disrespected by his family, and treated like crap so she said she would never do that but let me raise my kids. Another weird thing she does is when ever my daughter felt "warm" she would yell that she's not feeling well and I NEED to give her Tylenol, one time when she said that I took my daughter's temperature (because I was sooooooo tired of giving my daughter tylenol just because she felt warm) and it was only 97.7 and I told my husband I AM NOT giving her Tylenol when she does NOT have a fever. Another weird thing is after my son has a bath she rubs her hands together fast and then cups his balls in her hand and lifts them lol saying she did that to my husband and it made him run fast. So annoying because she yelled at me when she asked if I was doing that. They have this thing that they don't need to be in a carseat and when my daughter was 2 they would allow her to sit in the front, I was PISSED at this, that is my child's life. They let her get away with ANYTHING. I remember one time they were watching her while hubby and I were on a date, they called because my daughter was crying. She had spilled hot chocolate on their brand new white carpet and instead of her getting in trouble my mother-in-law was being blamed when in fact my daughter was the one who was holding the cup and the one who dropped it. When she does something wrong and I yell at her for it, my father-in-law says "Leave her alone, I told her to do it". So annoying and now I am mad lol.

Jeanette - posted on 04/20/2012

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Torey, my in-laws will do the same thing. Sometimes its actually useful like "tell mommy you need a diaper change," but it can also be frustrating like "tell mommy you want to eat some rice," or "tell mommy you you want to wear the shirt auntie gave you." They'll also play my son and daughter off each other. They'll say things, supposedly to my 2 month old daughter like "I don't like my nephew anymore because he didn't give me a hug," right in my son's presence, trying to guilt trip him into giving them a hug.

They do speak their dialect of Filipino in my presence, but it has enough Latin-based words that I can sort of follow what they're saying, and they haven't been talking over my head though.

Another thing that bothers me is that my in-laws will talk down to their own children. As if they feel their children (my husband, his brother, cousins, etc.) won't amount to much. It drives me nuts watching my mother-in-law bossing her son around and expecting him to drop everything and do what she says at a moment's notice.

On the positive side though, my mother-in-law makes fabulous panset (did I spell that right?).

Torey - posted on 04/18/2012

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I'm here with you! My MIL often talked to my son in a baby voice all while saying the things that she really wanted to say to me. Ex) "Oh you have to tell mommy that you don't need to wear an undershirt, you're too hot." "Tell mommy that you don't like to eat pears and you want rice." These are real examples of her speaking to a 3 month old, no joke! Her sister recently moved to the states and now they talk in Tagalog right in my face while mentioning my name every few lines, nice eh? Hubby's sister gets in on it too, though in a more sly way. I'm here if you need me, we can vent together!

Bridget - posted on 04/18/2012

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I have lots of “Pinoy” of “Pinoy Pride”, shirts with the Philippines, etc on them & yeah, except for my husband since they are mostly too big for the kids to wear they are pajamas as well. I am all for my children loving and celebrating their celebrating their father’s side of their heritage but where I am find a real struggle is my husband’s family – my mother-in-law, a few aunties/uncles & a sister-in-law who don’t understand why I am offended by the elevation of the Filipino culture above my own culture. Would I dare to suggest that American culture is better than theirs? No? So why is it suddenly acceptable for them to say everything Filipino is better than everything American? They can’t seem to comprehend that this is exactly what they are doing. If I dare even joke they get offended. But they can in all seriousness tell me something Filipino is better than something American and yet can figure out why I would upset? And as you mentioned… when was the last time you saw someone walking around in an “American Pride” shirt? Unless they are military or there is some national crisis… you just don’t see this overwhelming need to point out… gee, I love my country, my culture, it’s so awesome to be me & a part of my culture. I guess because we are made up of so many cultures ourselves. Not, that we are perfect & racism doesn’t exist. It is certainly alive & well. It is just that my in-laws don’t even understand their reverse “racism” towards me. And they are wonderful, friendly people!! Don’t get me wrong. It is just this concept that I can’t get them to understand, that I bring good cultural contributions to the family table as well. That I am not awful & disrespectful that I can’t seem to overcome. That I am simply DIFFERENT, raised with different concepts & should be given the benefit of the doubt before I am judged so harshly by THEIR cultural standards which I haven’t the foggiest idea about. Ugh! Entirely frustrating. I am glad I am not the only one though. Because I was beginning to think it really was me…

Michele - posted on 04/17/2012

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That is definitely true, I know she mentioned that when she married her husband in the Philippines, all her friends were against it and told her she shouldn't like he was beneath her, but that might not have been because he was white, but because she was older and educated and he was just a young marine. She does make Filipino dishes often, but makes and enjoys regular American food as well. I think her attitude sounds pretty different than your mother in laws; she has pride for her filipino roots, but is of the opinion that when you’re in America you are an American, so when anybody asks my husband what he is he says he is an American first then Filipino (people often think he is Mexican and try to speak to him in Spanish) it often annoys him.

Jeanette - posted on 04/17/2012

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The "blessing" thing does bother me too. She's trying to teach it to my grandson, even though she didn't bother teaching it to her own sons (my husband). She apparently feels differently about it now that she's the one receiving the blessing. To me the entire concept of the "blessing" doesn't seem very "American." The blessing reveres (as opposed to respects) elders simply because they are elderly. Whereas "the American Way" recognizes achievement and respects elders because of their accomplishments and the experience they have.

My mother-in-law is also very big on the Filipino pride thing too. She's gotten my son shirts that say, "Proud to be Filipino" and "FILIPINO PRIDE" and things like that. It's hard because my son never goes to any places that the shirt would be appropriate. We use those shirts for pajamas, and my mother-in-law sees him wearing them and is satisfied. Although, if we get too many more, then I'm not sure what I'll do because there's not enough situations for him to wear them all. And if he doesn't wear them, she'll be offended. Cousins have told me I'm told I'm lucky though. They know families where the mother-in-law bought her daughter-in-law "Filipino Pride" purses, etc. and expected her to use it. At least my mother-in-law doesn't expect me to wear/use Filipino pride items.

Michelle, you sound lucky with your mother-in-law. I would guess that since she was willing to marry a Caucasian, she's probably more flexible than our mothers-in-law when it comes to other traditions as well. I know my mother-in-law, for all that she's an American citizen now, would never marry a Caucasian. And for all that she's lived in the U.S. for the past 35 years, she avoids eating anything but Filipino food whenever she possibly can.

Michele - posted on 04/17/2012

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I’ve been married to my husband for over five years now. His mom is Filipino born and raised and his dad is white. I’ve not ever had problems with my mother in law; I think that I am very lucky in that regard. She is very friendly speaking her native language to any Filipino she meets like they are old friends, I think it’s cute. Reading your post, it sounds like your problems could be more because of her personality and the personality characteristics of your husband's family. My mother in law is the sweetest person and everybody loves her. I know that when she got married, she had problems with his family due to their personality, criticizing and disrespecting her; there was even a point in their marriage when her husband cut ties with his parents until they personally apologized to her. My father in law's family is very stubborn and opinionated and perhaps that is more so your problem too with his family not necesarily because they're filipino.. When we go to my mother in law's family reunions, I am the only white girl (and usually the tallest), but two of his cousins and his only sister are married to white men. I am a little more reserved, but very friendly although I think because the Filipino women my age all have such big personalities I do feel like the odd man out, but they are all still friendly. I actually feel more comfortable with the older generation who all moved here from the Philippines, especially one particular uncle of his is always bringing over fruit, veggies, chocolate, and always spoiling us, but that is just his personality, like his sister, very lovable, friendly, and sweet. Another difference with your situation, is that I am about to give birth to our first child, so perhaps issues might come up more so now that grandchildren will be in the picture, but I don't think it will be too much of a problem, maybe more so with his other Filipino family members, I guess we will soon see. Sorry if this was so long and I hope I’ve helped. It feels nice to find another woman married into a Filipino family.

Bridget - posted on 04/16/2012

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That is DEFINITELY a filipino mom thing!! LOL All the moms, my MIL, all my SILs, family friends, aunties, etc – they ALL do the same thing. Where I am of the mind that my kids feed themselves & if they don’t want to then they don’t eat & they will come back later when they are hungry. I feel like that is both not allowing the child to learn on their own/ patronizing them as you do & also that it sort of teaches them an un-needed dependency. When they are babies I will feed them, as they grow to older toddlers, they learn to eat on their own. My in-laws will even chase the kids with a spoon/fork of food & plate around a house during a party to feed them if they want to play instead. And there is an obsession with eating/feeding. Which is largely where I “fail” in my MIL eyes. Because I don’t chase my kids to eat or make rice for every meal, I am not feeding my kids properly. Because I cook food I learned how to cook I am not feeding them properly. Because I allow my daughter to bring a packed lunch to school instead of the often crappy hot food that passes as “food” at school, I am a failure. Because I don’t force my children to clean their plate & my children are a healthy weight not chubby, I am no good. When I come into a room I greet people usually w/ hugs & kisses. I am warm & affectionate. I just have never gotten accustomed to doing the “blessing” thing. It feels un-natural to me. But, if I am in my own home entertaining, my MIL expects me to come out & find & greet each & every guests even though I may be cooking. Don’t guests normally come & greet the hostess/host? I am so confused. If I miss someone in the throngs of arriving people, while I am cooking & preparing, then I am rude. Let’s see… she also didn’t like that I nursed my children & didn’t use formula. Apparently that didn’t have enough nutrition despite that every doctor disagrees & all the global health organizations disagree.

Goodness, I could just about go on & on. Basically, anything I do is wrong simply because I am American and don’t do it either her way and/or the Filipino way. She complains that my children are too “Americanized” and doesn’t even realize how completely rude, hurtful & racist this is. Her American grandchildren, born of an American mother are becoming… “too Americanized”? What if I complained they were becoming “too Filipino”? I would never say something like that. I don’t glorify American culture by any means & am the first person to make jokes, but she was serious when she said it. Ugh. I expected some racial issues when I got married. But I didn’t expect them from my in-laws. She isn’t the only one, but she is the worst.

Oy, glad I am not the only one though. What else does your MIL do?

Jeanette - posted on 04/14/2012

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I'm perfectly willing to be a friend, though I'm rarely online. My husband is the son of a Filipino immigrants, so I've had my run-ins with Filipino traditions. It's been magnified by the fact that we actually live in the same house as my in-laws. The high cost of living in Honolulu (third highest in the nation) combined with the fact that I'm the only one working right now since my husband is trying to start his own business, has made money tight, so we're living with my in-laws at the moment.

I've often wondered how much of my frustrations were because of Filipino traditions and how much were due to my Mother-in-law's personality. She definitely has a "my way is the right way" attitude. The biggest thing that bothers me is that she talks down to my son, and doesn't really pay attention to what he is capable of doing even when they are playing together. She is very condescending to him. For example, she will still spoon feed my son even though he is 2 1/2 years old and capable of feeding himself. I don't know if that is due to her personality or it is a Filipino thing in general though. What specifically bothers you?

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