Nikki Gil-Albert: On Raising Grateful and Empowered Kids
Nikki Gil-Albert opens up about life away from showbiz, raising grateful children, and the definition of empowerment.
Nikki Gil’s name perhaps rings a tune for many millennial parents. She first caught everyone’s eye in a 2005 soft drink commercial and later became one of the most recognized faces on TV with several shows and albums under her belt. Aside from being a singer and actress, she was an icon on Myx Channel as one of its VJs—alongside Luis Manzano and Iya Villania-Arellano.
After marrying businessman BJ Albert in 2015, Nikki has set her career aside to focus on family life. This includes spending most of her days with her two children, Finn and Maddie, in their beautiful home in an exclusive village in Alabang. During her chat with Modern Parenting, it was evident that Nikki was enjoying her moment away from the limelight.
“It has definitely been much slower,” she explained, referring to her schedule. “It is obviously a different experience. But this time, I’m able to relish it because it’s slower. I feel like I kind of own my time. I experience and feel things deeper. In a nutshell, life has been very peaceful and happy.”
Nikki Gil-Albert on her life as a wife and mother
Every day is a different kind of busy for Nikki. One minute, she’ll be attending to Finn and Maddie’s needs. The next, she accompanies BJ and their friends to play golf. She also spends time with her close friends and relishes life in the south.
Although she has swapped the limelight for the light of their home, Nikki’s schedule still gets hectic. “There are days when I feel like I’m so tired, but I accomplished nothing. It’s a weird sensation. Like you’re so tired and drained and spent at the end of the day, and yet you look back and I’m like, what did I really do?” she says, referring to her to-do list.
“It changes every day, but for the most part, it’s just really taking my son to school, picking him up, playing with a little one, and trying to get some social media work done. Maybe squeeze in a few interior styling projects and a little bit of golf.”
Nikki’s other love: interior designing
When the responsibilities of being a mom, running a household, and creating content become too much, Nikki turns to her other passion: interior designing to ease the stress. Although she could not complete the course due to the pandemic, she offers consultations on the side while patiently waiting for the opportunity to finish when things stabilize. “I just kind of help out with the decorating here and there. Some friends need help with styling, just really basic things,” she pointed out.
Her style and preference as a budding interior designer focus on what is practical, inspired by her experiences as a mother of two. But she knows that every family — especially moms — has a dream home.
“I put the family culture at the forefront of my design or when I do space planning because I know what it’s like to live with kids and so I know the needs of a family.”
Unfortunately, it can make some moms green with envy when they see beautiful and elaborate home designs on social media. But Nikki advises these moms that many of these images may not be what they seem. “There’s that pressure to have an aesthetically pleasing home to the point sometimes that it’s not realistic. I like clean lines and I like spaces that are easy to maintain, and easy to keep neat.”
She then draws a line to distinguish the beauty of a home and a house. “Home is one that has life. Just like graffiti and drawings on walls,” she compares. “They may not be Instagram-worthy or architectural in design but, it’s something I’m learning to embrace.”
One example is a child’s drawing, which may not show the skill of an artist. But it adds life and wonders to a boring, empty wall!
Being strict doesn’t always raise a good child
Much to Nikki and BJ’s surprise, their parenting came out more relaxed. Although she grew up in a strict environment, she and BJ realized later on that the hard push for academic excellence and sports was not their thing. “I thought I was going to be a very strict mom,” she admitted. “But there are days where what you think you’ll do differs from what you’ll actually do.”
She confides that all she wants is for both Maddie and Finn to pass the love they’re receiving forward. “Now it’s like, no, I just want them to be good kids. I just want them to be kind. I just want them to grow up knowing Jesus. And you know, we just wish that they would love the world the way they’re being loved and that they’re receiving love,” she shared.
Although aware of the different styles, Nikki’s end goal is for both Maddie and Finn to grow up respectful. Any signs of attitude, especially with Finn since he is becoming more vocal the older he gets, she and BJ immediately address. “There was a time we were like, it’s not your birthday or no, Christmas is done. And he was being whiny about it. So we really sat him down and said, you look around. You have enough. It was really a lesson in being grateful,” she narrated.
But gratitude is not easy to learn, even for adults. “It’s a challenge trying to get the younger ones to understand it. So I think that is one of the biggest challenges of parenting.”
Nikki Gil-Albert on the meaning of empowerment
Gratitude and kindness are the pillars of Nikki and BJ’s parenting, empowering their children to find happiness and joy in what they have rather than what could have been. It’s wanting to express these virtues that Nikki defines as empowerment. Although she jokes that the question, “How do you define empowerment?” sounds very Miss Universe, Nikki explains the gist of what she knows. “I read somewhere but basically the writer was saying, real empowerment is the knowledge that you don’t need anyone’s permission to do what you want. You just do what you do.”
She sees these in other moms, sharing her admiration for Michelle Obama. “She’s quite honest and open about her parenting and even her struggles. It’s not easy to be open with these things and parenting is messy. There are so many faces of motherhood and then, there’s this push and pull of things. From wanting your alone time to wanting to spend every moment with your kids.”
It’s from trying to find the balance that she wants to teach Finn and Maddie about the power of choosing what they want to do. For Finn, it’s about respecting efforts even if it’s not visible in the grand scheme of things. “I want Finn to know that moms—both working and stay-at-home, and women’s contributions, are just as valid even if they’re not in the corporate world.”
Maddie, on the other hand, is learning about how to wield her empowerment properly. “I don’t think we’re going to have a problem empowering Maddie. She’s very strong-willed; she knows what she wants,” Nikki beamed. “I want Maddie to grow knowing that her voice and opinion are important and need to be heard.”
But like every mother, Nikki has to deal with the unfortunate struggle of letting her baby go. “My mom didn’t raise me to be timid and I don’t want to raise a timid woman either,” Nikki shares. “I know it’ll be hard to let go of her [Maddie] because there’s that desire to have her just stay with me. But just like my mom, I need to understand that she needs to spread her wings and fly, fall, and get up on her own. I owe that learning to Maddie. I’ll still always be here for her especially if things don’t work out as planned.”
Keeping the doors open this Women’s Month
Although she enjoys the life of motherhood and homemaking, Nikki isn’t closing the door on her initial craft. “Showbiz is a part of me that will never go away and if the right material comes along and the timing is right, I will go for it. I am not closing my door on performing in theatre.”
Her ability to choose not to close that door is a result of her mom raising her to be empowered. To be responsible for her own choices. She celebrates that mothers nowadays see the value in their daughters’ voices. “The fact that this generation of mothers can identify the need to raise strong girls and not dampen and kill their fire — that’s worth celebrating.”
Back in the day when strong personalities needed to be force-fit in a box, parents of today—like Nikki Gil-Albert—recognize and choose to cultivate the strength in their daughters so that it can burn bright for someone who’s still struggling to find theirs. “Although we come from a time when people were like, ‘Really?’ to those who were ambitious, it’s worth celebrating that parents are focusing more now on raising resilient girls and being more positive about what else they can do.”
Words ALEXA VILLANO and KEVYN GOHU-CATINGUB
Photography ED SIMON
Art Direction MARC YELLOW
Makeup MARY ANN PARBA
Hairstyling DENNIS DISTURA of MARQED SALON SOUTH
Styling ROSHNI MIRPURI and SIYA DARYANI for THE CLOSET CULTURE
Shoot Coordination MJ ALMERO and ANTHONY MENDOZA