Revisiting the Definition and Concept of Filipino Family: A Psychological

Perspective
Maria Caridad H. Tarroja
Filipinos have been described as family-centered, and families have been
observed to be closely-knit. Through the years, sociologists have studied the
composition, structure, values, and definition of Filipino Families. Several studies on
Filipino families have been made. A review of literature has been made through how
psychologists have defined Filipino families and most of them defined families in a
traditional way: composed of a father, a mother, and their biological children, and
extends to some paternal and maternal relatives. The challenge now for the
psychologists is to define the Filipino families beyond its current definition, inclusive
of non-traditional families, responsive to the changing demands of the changing
Philippine society.
In a sociological perspective, Filipino families value blood, marriage
relationships and biological ties are important that may extend up to distant
relatives. They have described Filipino family as nuclear in structure but functionally
extended. A Filipino family is also bilaterally extended kinship system that highly
values reciprocity. Parents provide children’s basic needs and later children took
care of their elderly parents. Members worked to keep ties alive whenever members
of the family are separated. The extended family serves as support for the family,
which could be a strength and weakness at the same time. A hierarchical structure
of authority in the family where obedience, nurturance of one another and conflict
avoidance are emphasized promoting cohesiveness and solidarity in the family.
Additionally, increasing number of overseas worker resulted to separation of
many families, phenomenon of working children, marital infidelity, and teenage
pregnancies. Though modernization is evident in the Philippines, families generally
remained closely knit and traditional with strong family relationship even when
members lived apart from one another. A study also showed that still Filipinos
considered family as very important to their lives, a child needed a home with both
parents to be happy, and disapproved on a woman having a child as single parent
without stable relationship, and disagreed that marriage as an outdated institution.
Nuclear family is still the basic building block of Filipino Families. A person can also
belong to one’s family orientation and family of procreation. Nuclear families when
combined may produce compound or composite families, with recognitions of kin
relations, shared responsibilities, and maintenance of expressive and emotional
relations beyond nuclear family. Also, an increasing knowledge on non-traditional
families arises which members are not necessarily bound to legal marriage, blood,
or adoption which includes cohabiting couples, single parent households, childless
unions, dual career and reverse role families.
In a psychological perspective, family cohesiveness affected socio-political
issues. A tagasalo or the one who takes care of the family or comes to rescue of the
family or another family member arises in times of difficulty. A Filipino family was
also described as a system and resilient stemming from early experiences of being
nurtured. A study on women as OFW in families, feeling of sadness in the family, the

and societal issues. anxiety. and that Filipino mothers are expected to . A study was conducted on the resilience of Filipino wives to spousal infidelity. travel. family context. negative self-gratification. discipline. and filing civil and/or church annulment emerged. More reported stressors and strains was also noted to employed parent with unemployed spouse. On child-related issues. Both work and non-work stressors were positively significant related to physiological and psychological strains. Several factors that mitigated the effect of maternal employment includes cultural factors and children treated as the priority. a need for a generative father as representing the ideal combination of concern and commitment. and children becoming the tagasalo of their fathers. A review of other psychologist’s published and unpublished articles of Filipino family issues and concepts were also conducted. and by the men regardless of whether their wives were employed or not. Employed women had the most favorable attitudes towards working women. Maternal employment was not seen as negative as long as the mother were able to fulfill the responsibilities of a mother. and work variables which moderate the experience of stressors and their consequences for Filipino working parents. nurturance/affiliation as motives for having children. children-related issues. Societal changes such as global and urban migration. Another study was conducted to look into the demographic. punitiveness and power was made. stopping complaints or blame. On parent-related issues. Furthermore. becoming economically independent. maternal employment did not affect mother-child variables of nurturance and punitiveness. parent-child and marital relations. Solo parents were also found out to be the most vulnerable to stress due to the absence of a spouse to buffer the burden of parenting and household responsibilities. Furthermore. Psychological issues such as inculcating family values. Maternal employment effects on family member’s perception of the mother’s sex-role concepts of the children. positive. personality. Mothers were noted to be more nurturing than fathers. Problem solving skills combined with self-care. strategies of developing child’s potential and dealing with tough times were presented. communication within the family and the world. self-gratification. Family situations and structure of Filipino family changes as time passes by. violence and power of media made an impact on the Filipino family. Parents have an important role in training their children to be responsible and independent individuals. a study on the Filipino children’s perception of their parents in terms of nurturance. It was subdivided into four (4): parent-related issues. An ideal father was someone who was involved with his children but at the same time not too controlling. political instability. reaching out to others. and independence training. and the attitudes towards working women. One study found out six covert dimensions for parenthood: adequacy. studies on Filipino parents dealt mostly with parenthood and parenting skills.need of fathers for their new role. and disruptive influences of children as deterrents to having children. family. and parent experiences and traits. Four father types among Filipino families were also identified according to affective aspects of fathering and activity. followed by unemployed women. shopping. changing role of women.

Variations in family structure depended on the forms of marriage. a study on transnational families defined families with different members living in at least two different countries. Single working mothers were found to have moderate adversity quotients due to finances. and rules of residence and . lack of support from the father of their children. Both groups have average grades but is significantly better in those with their fathers present. types of household structures. On a study made on Filipino immigrants. Additionally. stable and intact family environment together with values and parental guidance. support from family and friends. care and support. judging their children to be happier than they actually are. However. Nontraditional families emerged through time such as singleparent families. parenting concerns. Apparently. working abroad and death. Psychological security was significantly greater in children with their fathers present than those of not. Material goods were used to compensate maternal love and care to painful emotions such as pain and feeling of guilt and loneliness. Children were seen as precious gift and thought to bring family happiness. related to life satisfaction. family.take charge of raising their children which starts as soon after the baby’s birth. Mothers know more about their adolescent children’s lives than fathers do. Disruption in families was due to abandonment. rules of descent and inheritance. These resulted to new forms of living arrangements making adolescents vulnerable to risk behaviors. Problematic children are being sent to the relatives in the Philippines. Both mothers and fathers have biases in their observer ratings. Coping strategies includes spirituality. Father’s availability only influenced the social adjustment of the adolescents being significantly less submissive in those with fathers absent. both parents were seen equally as agents of punishment toward their children. Another study has also shown how Filipino adolescents valued connection. Impact of mass media as also seen as threat to traditional values. While children left often experienced loneliness. An important factor in influencing lifestyle of adolescents is having a strong. love and comfort in old age. Adolescents in general were poor in emotional adjustment especially in girls with their fathers present. Greater self-acceptance was noted in adolescents from intact families but no significant difference was noted in the level of security between two groups. They are expected to be obedient and dependent. the type of support from non-custodial parents had a significant impact on the adolescent’s evaluation of their mother’s perception of their fathers. no significant differences noted on the levels of self-acceptance and security were noted based on the length of family disruption. and leisure activities. companionship. insecurity. vulnerability and the desire for more intimacy with the mother. it showed that Filipino-Americans had high level of academic achievement but apparently scored low on self-esteem and higher on depression. for they are both motivated to believe that their child is happier than he really is further enhancing their view of the family as a whole. In family context. intimacy. Filipino family has been characterized in terms of absentee parenting and unstable marital unions as a result of options taken by parents by pressure of changing environment such as migration. and work-family conflicts.

A Filipino family is described in terms of family member’s closeness. Research have shown that Filipino family is not only defined by its structure but on its emotional connection among family members. or emotional. parental involvement. care. marriage. Critique: . An increase in dual-earner and dual-career marriage. Thus a need to reconstruct the definition of family is needed to include the different existing type of families. which shall be based on empirical evidences. Marriage is not the only path to forming a family. 2010). illegitimacy. emergence of absentee parents due to overseas deployment. As well as recognizing the different types of families. and childless couples. number of solo-parent families due to marital separation. migration. care and support and intimacy were important factors in keeping family together in general. Relationships can either be biological. religious orientation. legal. emotional connection. warmth and intimacy. support and care for one another (Tarroja. how the relate. A challenge on researching deeply on the Filipino families today has been recommended. siblings who have been orphaned or parents in overseas. Emergence of other nontraditional families include step or blended families. to integrate differences in their difference of assessment and interventions. Physical togetherness/physical connection. family resiliency. Filipino families are still nuclear in nature. for family union varies among cultures.authority patterns. or adoption. and shared values and beliefs. communication. and informal expectations of family and friends. mostly extended families. sense of support. and adoption. Members are no longer limited to relation by blood. law of the society. cultural norms. Living together in one roof or the physical togetherness is not as important as emotional attachment.