Parents and childrenBy Nikki John S. Paulin
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Today’s generation is into a trend. People grow up quickly, because in countries such as the Philippines, time and maturity don’t wait. You have to chase them.
In the not so distant past, I chanced upon an entry on a website titled “Kindsköpfe, when children become parents, and vice versa,” which features “a series of digital art by a collective of artists based in Hamburg in which parents share their heads with those of their children.”
I find the entry interesting, not because of the babies or the editing, but because of the influence that crafted the concept. Babies don’t think the way people my age do, but they will soon do, and if the exhibit was about teenagers sharing heads with those of their parents, I could’ve made my point quickly. It catapulted me into a realization that it could be because rational children can now get level-headed with their parents.
Greatly shaped by many influences such as the media, filial arrangements have changed, and in various ways depending on the parenting style. In the Philippines, we have the traditional authoritarian arrangement, which involves punishments for misdoings and where parents’ rules always hold sway. There is another arrangement that emphasizes exchange and open communication lines, leading to cooperation from and among the youngsters.
There are also arrangements that blur authority lines. There is one that emulates the concept of a simple social affinity that is friendship, where moms share fanciful secrets with their daughters and spend weekends with them shopping in malls and getting a perm afterward. There is another that allows children to stand on their own feet and earn a living for themselves.
The Philippines is beginning to embrace the culture of parental leniency. The factors responsible largely involve the media and their exposition of Western family stereotypes. Imagine life where children think the way their parents do, or worse, where children think better.
The prevalent permissiveness among parents shapes children’s responses and attitudes, resulting in the children living their lives the way they see fit. Members of the older generation often wonder what the culture of the young has become, saying they were not what we are today, raising eyebrows on our unyielding attitude.
And so independence has been vaguely understood, and the conviction that youthful meandering guarantees the ability to take matters entirely into one’s hands may prove ominous.
For many a teenager, independence means assuming full autonomy over decisions, even without the plausible security of surviving the ill-made ones. Wiz Khalifa’s “Young, Wild, and Free” can be an alternative definition, though.
A lot of families fall into scathing misunderstandings and vendettas because parents clash with their children regarding many aspects of a typical teenage life, with the latter using independence as a springboard. The extent to which parental authority is applicable lies in responsible stewardship, in being able to meet at a reasoned judgment, in according recognition to good decisions and, conversely, imposing a punishment for a misdoing.
But times have changed, indeed, and the people whom children used to please now tend to trade places with French clowns just to appease their offspring. The young populace is bristling with dynamism and behavioral patterns new to the eyes of the old at heart, and it demands that parents keep up.
Sometimes, it begs the question of who should go down on their knees, or euphemistically, who should bridge the gap.
Way back then, or maybe up until now, it was the primary responsibility of children to bring pride and joy to their parents, aside from showing them love and reverence, as a sort of consolation for their tender, loving care.
The string should be tied at both ends, so it is important for parents to speak with the young and understand their emotional dynamics during rite-of-passage moments. I believe this is also where filial piety comes in. Take it from the recent Lucky Me commercial. Pep talk can go a long way, especially when it’s from the people who taught them to squeak “papa” or “mama.”
There are countless times that I come to a dialectical process of argumentation with my parents, with me defending myself using all the non sequiturs and metaphors I know, and them just listening and regurgitating their previous points. Often, I am on the conceding end. Sometimes, we agree to disagree.
In my heart I know they still remember my birth and the spark it brought to their relationship even if they unwittingly forget my birthday sometimes. How can I bite the hands that feed me?
Parents should understand that the world their youngsters are in now can get crazy by the minute. We can always make amends, but parents should always set the lines clear between angst and reason. Being the proverbial prodigal son in today’s world involves a lot of repercussions that parents should be aware of.
Parents’ role in the family is so indispensable; without it, children can go astray. To enumerate the things parents have provided is to recount everything that the children can experience.
After all, we are still our father’s son, our mother’s daughter. And this fact should forever be ingrained in our heart irrespective of what one’s concept of independence is.
Nikki John Paulin, 21, is a supervisor, cargo planning and systems, at Cebu Pacific. He is a graduate of Ateneo de Davao University (major in management accounting, minor in finance and philosophy).
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