It's no secret that 29-year-old actress Denise Laurel is doing double duty as mom and dad to her six-year-old son Alejandro.
It is no small feat doing it alone, but according to Denise, "I feel lucky to have a sensitive child.
"I feel like God blessed me with the easiest kid, maybe because I’m a working single mom," she told Smartparenting.com.ph.
She added, "He's such a happy child; my mom would always tell me when I was younger that she would know I was awake if there was humming, laughter, and singing. [Alejandro] is the same—he just loves music, he loves people.
"When I’m going through something, he tries to parallel it with little things that he’s gone through, and tells me, 'You know, Mama, it's just like a stomach pain: it will come and then it will go away. You’re gonna be fine in the end.'”
VALUE OF EDUCATION. Though she is yet to finish a college degree, Denise has always instilled in Alejandro the importance of education.
She said, "I always remind him that education is not for me, it’s for his future, especially since I’m a single mom.
"At an early age, he knows that if anything happens to me, he has to be able to take care of himself."
She stressed, though, that it's not about the grades.
"I don’t want [Alejandro] to be pressured that he has to be an honor student. I’m not pressuring him to be the best, I’m giving him the decision to excel. It’s his choice."
STAYING GROUNDED. The Laurels are among the most prominent families in the Philippines, both in politics and the performing arts. Denise is a granddaughter of the late former vice president Salvador Laurel and a great granddaughter of Jose P. Laurel, the president of the Second Philippine Republic.
Her uncle Cocoy is a distinguished theater actor, while aunt Iwi made a name for herself as a singer in the 1980s.
Needless to say, Denise is highly privileged in life, but she grew up unspoiled by her family background.
"I grew up without a yaya or a driver; I grew up without special treatment," she said.
"I started in the industry as an extra, and because I really wanted it, I would [ride the] tricycle, jeep, or MRT (Metro Rail Transit) to where I need to be at 4 o'clock in the morning.
"My parents taught me to be independent. They taught me how to be sensitive and considerate of others, and growing up with three other siblings teaches you, 'Hey, the world isn’t just about you.'"
She said she learned the value of hard work from her parents early on, and it's what she wants to pass on to her son, "Hard work makes you stronger and be more capable of whatever it is that you want to do."
It's a challenge not to spoil her only child, but Denise shared she is always quick to catch herself.
"Our family had a trip recently and I wasn’t able to go because I was working, but I told Bukie [Alejandro's nickname] that he's only allowed to get two things on this trip.
"When we had a phone call, he went, 'Mom, I bought eight things.' I said, 'Wasn’t the deal [to buy] only two things?' and he said, 'Oh, I forgot.'
"I said, 'Did you really forget?' Then I showed him what toys I got for him at the Comic Con.
"I said, 'I know this is gonna be hard for you, but because you disobeyed me, you’re not gonna get these until you deserve them.'
"He said, 'Why? I don’t understand.'
"I said, 'You do good, you get good; you do bad, then there’s consequences. You consciously made the choice to disobey me. I don’t have to punish you because you created your own punishment for yourself.'
"Then he went, 'I understand, Mama, I’m so sorry, I won’t do it again. It's okay, you can give back the toy.'
"Hindi kaya ng puso ko, but I have to.”
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This story originally appeared on SMARTPARENTING.COM.PH.
* Minor edits have been made by the PEP.ph editors.