Sunday, 27 December 2015

On Being A Daughter-In-Law

Last December 25, I invited both my parents and my in-laws to have Christmas Dinner in my house. 

On top of the food my mom brought from Iloilo, my brother also made crown roast and ratatouille.

He said, ratatouille is what laswa is to a French. It's a humble vegetable dish.

In the middle of dinner, while we were waiting for the roast, I gave gifts and Christmas cards to my parents and my in-laws. Then, I asked that they open their gifts at the same time. I wanted to show that I love and treat both sets equally.

The following day, papa told me that I need to serve food to my husband and my in-laws.  He added that I should serve them the way my mom served my grandparents. 

My mom then shared that she would give my ama sponge baths when she was sick and she would always be their "alalay" when they would go out of town every weekend. She said that while they were alive, she served my grandparents more than their own children ever did.

Papa told me that now that I am married, I belong to my husband's family.  They, on the other hand, will be at the mercy of my brother's future wife. He said, "Hopefully, she will take care of us the same way as you took care of us."

Hmmm...this is where my values do not align with my parents.

I think theirs is a very traditional Chinese way.

I have done many focus group discussions among Filipina moms and wives. Filipina women are very strong matriachs. I know that usual tensions are the following:

1. Transfer of financial support
2. Mother-in-law (MIL)feels wife doesn't take care of her son very well
3. Daughter-in-law (DIL) feels MIL is meddling too much
4. Both MIL and DIL competing for affection 

Given what I know, I feel that my role as a daughter-in-law is to ensure that I don't take husband away from his family and to show his parents that I take care of him very well. 

I tell my husband to spend time with his mother, just the two of them. My MIL had a very difficult pregnancy. My husband took 3 years to make! The least he can do is to maintain that bond with his mother even after he is married. Sometimes, when boys fall inlove, they can only focus on one woman.

I tell him to visit his family even when I'm not with him.  But ofcourse, I join him when we visit during Sundays, albeit not regularly. 

If I hear my husband sound frustrated at his parents, I remind him to respect and understand them. 

I remind my husband to buy them gifts or take them out for their birthdays.

The way I see, I should not take the place of my husband and his sisters because parents want to feel love from their own children.

I also do not expect my husband to take care of my parents. In fact, when my parents visit from Iloilo, I do not drag him with us. Sure he drives us around but when we get to the mall, I tell him that he doesn't need to tag along.  I also want to bond with my own parents and share my life with them, not worrying if my husband will get offended.

If we visit Iloilo, I actually don't mind of my husband doesn't join us all the time  because he won't understand the conversation anyway. 

But still, he joins us. And still, I join them even if when his family talks in Fookien, all I hear are "crickets". 

I think my role as a daughter-in-law is to give my in-laws peace of mind that their son is in good hands.  It is also my role TO HELP him take care of them someday. 

However, I do not intend to replace my husband because the love of one's old child is really different. Likewise,  my husband's role as a son-in-law is also the same. It is not his duty to support my parents. He can only allow and help me take care of them.

No one should ever lose a daughter in marriage...regardless if the culture is matriarchal or patriarchal.  Both parents earn a son and a daughter respectively. 

Merry Christmas,




  1. I agree with the serving of food part when it comes to your in-laws. Parang basic respect yun.

    I may have to draw the line at sponge baths but I will hire a caretaker/nurse. Ang bait ng mama mo, ideal daughter in law sya.

    1. Cge starting new year I'll do that na. Ora Mismo.
      I think sa Chinese important ung mga "Filial" duties.
      Although I feel it should be one's own children who should do that para mas maka bonding with parents.
      I know kasi my ama told my mom that her kids never even gave her a sponge bath. So while the gesture made my mom a hero, I think it my ama felt bad din that she didn't raise her own children well.
      Eh ayaw ko naman un ganung effect na ako na magaling. My goal is to make my inlaws feel good that they raised my husband well.

  2. My Gwakong and Gwama were traditionalists. Their sons & daughters-in-law were more important then their own daughters because they are "lai-ke" as opposed to "ke-tsut". Even up till now, when we go visit their graves in the mausoleum, may hierarchy pa ang pag light ng joss sticks. All the "lai-ke" get to "pai" first before any of the "gwa-ke" can take their turn. Medyo nakakatawa na nakakalungkot na may ganito pang pag-iisip, no ?

    Daughters were worthless (or near worthless) to my grandparents. One example I cannot forget is that when their family home was being constructed long ago, my mom and aunt took turns sleeping in the new home at night, they were supposed to guard the materials so they don't get stolen. Curious about the arrangement, I asked why the uncles weren't asked to guard the home at night, Mom answered, "delikado kasi, pano kung totoong may pumasok na magnanakaw ?" Note that Mom stated that as a fact, without any tampo or whatsoever, that was how they were raised.

    So years later, when the uncles would eventually get married and the wives were seen to treat their own parents better than my grandparents, the latter would feel so bad. When Gwakong/gwama got sick and it was their daughters who took turns taking care of them, nalungkot sila lalo because they felt abandoned by their "lai-ke". I like to think that they appreciated their daughters then but am not really sure.

    I am so glad that my parents don't have that mindset.

    Obvious naman that they did raise your husband well kasi he chose you for a wife - someone who respects his parents. Malaking bagay yun ah.

    Ako rin, have to make an effort to serve my MIL. Pag kasama kasi namin for meals (which is bihira lang because we live far away), parating nauuna that she serves me and wala na ako chance to serve her because she already has food on her plate. Hmm, gotta think more on how I'm going to handle this. Siguro I just have to pile more food up her plate maski may laman na =)

    1. I will lead my mom read this comment. I'm pretty sure she will agree. Her dad always reminded her that as a girl, she was never theirs.
      Yan na mission natin, to be better fil-chi daughter in laws. Apir! Next year May award tayo

    2. "Obvious naman that they did raise your husband well kasi he chose you for a wife - someone who respects his parents. Malaking bagay yun ah."--- uy thanks na flatter naman ako! Pero kulang pa. They will be very happy if I speak fookien. Ala pa rin e.