Conversations w/ My Filipino Grandma (Post #1)
It felt like my little brother swallowed his home-cooked Thanksgiving meal and got up to leave for his next gathering before I can even take a second bite from my plate. This tiny, not-so-pleasant part of the evening is what sparked one of the most meaningful conversations I’ve ever had with my Filipino Grandma.
We touched on a few topics that my younger self would always try to avoid. And, if I ever did bring one of these topics up, it would only leave all parties involved with an angry, sad, or disappointing emotion. This wasn’t the case for our post-Thanksgiving dinner conversation. We talked about the dysfunctional parts of our small family, our different spiritual and religious beliefs, and how we feel about being women.
I learned a few things by the end of our conversation.
- My grandma is indeed very open to conversing.
- She’s also very conservative.
- It takes a lot of effort to connect more deeply with my Grandma (not really something new I learned; just a reminder). Part of this effort is figuring out how to effectively share with her my ways of living, and all of my radical beliefs about raising a family, practicing spirituality, and advocating for feminism.
- The effort required to connect with my Grandma is worth it. I know I’ll regret not getting to know her more before she transitions to the next life. It’s time to put past negative assumptions behind and start focusing on building more positive memories with her.
Mind you, this conversation did get very tense. And when it did, I applied the following techniques to bring calm, compassion, and balance back into the space:
- Reminded both myself and my Grandma to start breathing in and out more deeply.
- Prevented myself from talking over my Grandma by choosing to listen instead.
- Letting my Grandma know how I understood her and her struggles or pains.
- Started taking long pauses before responding back.
- Spoke up kindly and confidently when my Grandma either 1) makes the wrong assumption about me, or 2) dominates the conversation, leaving no more room for me to respond.
The next time I’ll be seeing my Grandma is next month, for Christmas (long as none of us has Covid, that is 😉). I’ll definitely be researching tips on how I can share my radical ideas in a way that’ll help her become more open to welcoming them into her reality.