To family: Our most fervent supporters and harshest critics

Family. In Filipino culture, the most important relationship we may ever have. Working with BPO companies for the past 9 years, it’s not unusual to hear the common “I need to take my aunt/grandma/uncle to the ER”, “My mom’s aunt just passed and I need to go to the funeral”, “I have to take care of my mother” as usual reasons for absences, even resignations. I’ve heard surprise, even disbelief from my bosses across the pond at hearing these from us, when mostly these reasons are usually accurate. We Filipinos still have a tribe mentality. We take care of each other. Grandparents live with their grandchildren all the time. We’ve taken years off from work just being someone’s primary caregiver when the rest of the world will tell you that hiring someone else would be more practical.

I’d like to tell you it’s just cheaper for us to personally do it, but I think it’s ingrained in us to do these things ourselves. It may be guilt, personal loyalty, or cultural expectations, but we do it. Because for us, family is everything. They are the people that raised us to be who we are as adults. The voices in our heads when we make big decisions. They are both our most loyal supporters but also our harshest critics at the same time.

Without (hopefully) airing any dirty laundry out, I’ve seen personally how my loved ones support each other. We may discuss at length the errors in judgment, irresponsibility, wrong choices that a family member/s made to cause us to have to help out, but we do it. No matter how badly the people we love have lied to us, screwed us over, make us want to just pack up and leave, we still find a way to bail them out at the last second.

It’s a vicious cycle. How do you find the balance of helping out versus being their bailout option? How do you make someone realize they’re going towards a downward spiral but not alienate them enough that they hide their problems from you and make it worse? How do you wake a person up without involving other, sketchier personalities or worse, the law?

I guess it’s enough to know them and love them enough to figure it out. Loving someone unconditionally doesn’t mean being their personal parachute. It’s making sure you equip them enough to be able to make the right choices, cheering them on when they need the encouragement, and kicking them in the butt when they need to get up off theirs.

I guess that’s what I think. Then again, I’m still figuring things out.

What’s your family like?

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