There’s a quote by American mayor and public speaker Rudolph Giuilani that goes like this:
“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”
And how true this quote is! Grandparents are a big blessing to the family, and our kids definitely can gain a lot from them, plus learn important lessons. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it – let’s read what counselor Kisset Mangabat – who also took up units in psychiatry – has to say.
“First of all, kids can learn values,” Mangabat shares. “We kids and adults alike can learn specific values from our grandparents. Values-based Filipino traditions like pagmamano (a traditional way of showing respect to elders among Filipinos, i.e. touching the elder’s hand to one’s forehead), saying po and opo (Filipino expressions of deference and respect to someone older) are a few examples. These values can be passed on from generation to generation because our grandparents also learned them from their grandparents.”
‘Maria Clara’ alive and kicking
Connected to values is what Mangabat calls “conservative culture.” Conservatism, especially with us Filipinos, is a plus factor “because we have a rich and old culture,” she explains.
“For example, the ‘Maria Clara’ way of life where we, women, do not flirt with men and instead let men court us. It has a good impact, especially on young girls, who will learn to see that self-respect is a non-negotiable thing.”
In addition to learning from grandparents, Mangabat suggests children – and their families – adopt the “culture of loving old art, music and reading materials” so they can be more “conservative” in nature. This way, old but honorable traditions and customs can remain intact over time.
Another important lesson young people can learn from their grandparents is “wisdom in politics.” Mangabat expounds, “We can gain wisdom from our grandparents as to whom to vote for, what it was like during certain time periods, and how the politicians governed the country before.”
Such stories can be shared with kids even at a young age, using age-appropriate words and images. “Grandparents’ stories about the Martial Law in particular – whether they may be positive or negative – can greatly impact who we choose as our leaders, and what our beliefs in the political system will be,” explained Mangabat.
The family goldmine
In addition, kids can also learn important “economic lessons” from our elders. “Grandparents, no matter what ethnicity or nationality they belong to, can greatly give kids and adults alike lessons on money and business,” Mangabat explains. “They worked hard before, sustaining all their children in spite of any economic crises, and must have known how to use and keep their salaries or money in check.”
Case in point were my own my paternal lolo and lola, Crispin and Basilisa, especially my grandmother, who always talked about the importance of being frugal and learning to be happy and content with what we already have. These are things which have stayed with me through the years even as I raise my own kids.
Last but certainly not the least, grandparents can teach their grandchildren “stories about life and love.” “If our grandfathers fought in wars, they can tell stories of triumph or defeat,” Mangabat says.
“On the other hand, both grandparents and grandmothers can teach how true love can last, since their relationship or marriage was able to withstand the test of time and trials,” she adds.
This is exactly what my maternal grandparents, Ismael and Eufrocina, whom we called “Ama” and “Ina” gave us: a great example of true love – for better or worse, through the good times and the bad, especially the bad. They taught my mom and her siblings about the importance of helping others as a family, and my mom taught us the same.
These are certainly not the only lessons children (and adults) can learn from the grandparents in their lives. Our elderly are a goldmine of knowledge and information, so it is important to tap into them whenever and however we can. Beyond that though, we must also show them the love, care, honor, and respect they need, especially in their old age.