I am a product of overbearingly authoritarian parents, a daughter who had run away from home seven years ago, a week right before my graduation. My parents and I would always fight, and I could not simply stay silent and just let their hurtful words continue to sink deeper into me. Even after forgiveness has been issued among ourselves, I still possess scars and anxieties that mark my troubled past. And even if I try to lead a successful life, they affect how I view love, life, and even the afterlife.
I am not yet a parent, and I know that I do not want to be like what my parents used to be. Because of these experiences, I developed a fear of having a child—nurturing a child, to be specific. Given Earth’s situation today, one of the ways to reduce our ecological footprint is not to have a child, as there are too many humans occupying the planet already, not to mention that humans are the reason Earth is as polluted as today. Pondering on this adds to why it is best for me not to have one, leaving the narcissistic notion of sayang naman ang genes ko.
However, if I still intend to, I have to make sure that my children will be assets to the community without forcing this idea to them and ensuring that they are educated and nurtured well, meaning I have to avoid using these statements:
“Habang nasa pamamahay pa lang kita, wala kang karapatan . . .” The continuation may pertain to anything you are doing. This was a statement my parents often said to me that I was so eager to go out of the house and ran far, far away. If I had my own house, someone where I could have my own peace, then maybe I would have the right to speak for myself.
“Aba, sumasagot ka na!” and “Wala ka pa ngang maipagmamalaki” combo. Have you had times when your parents and you fought and then when they ask you a question and you answer, they reply this? You try to defend yourself, but nothing works. To them, they are always right; you are too young to know things, so you must listen to them because they are “experienced.”
“Ang bata-bata mo pa lang . . .” and “Ang tanda-tanda mo na . . .” Yes, sometimes they exist in one argument. This happens when you come home late (I often hear these when I had org meetings, even when I told them where I was), and they would tell you that you are too young to do such things but too old to be scolded. Many children lie because they are afraid of their parents, and as a parent, do you really want your own child to be disconnected from you? Ideally, parents should be the first people a child should go to for comfort . . . or they will find it elsewhere.
“Anak lang kita.” I know this one is blurted out of anger, but this communicates that parents hold on to their pride or their sense of self more than their love for their child.
“Kapag mamatay na ako, paano ka na lang?” Among all these statements, I hate this the most. For one, it says that you are nothing without them. But why would one decide to be a parent? Sayang ang genes? Para may mag-aalaga sa ‘yo kapag matanda ka na? Cute kasi ang babies? Because really, if these are your reasons, I recommend that you think twice. Parents must teach and guide their children to stand on their own and defend for themselves, and only then can they stand for the rights of others. This statement only scars people.
Another issue here is when parents do not apologize to their children when these statements are said. This teaches children to be defensive of their hurtful words or to apologize even when they are not at fault.
“Words are like swords. If you use them the wrong way, it’ll turn into ugly weapons,” as Gosho Aoyama put it. I know parenting is not exactly a walk in the park, but I believe that its goal is to shape the next set of humans to be the best versions of themselves, thus creating the best version of the world.
Manipulation, in any form, whether it is disguised as love, will be those ugly weapons to be carried and used by soldiers for generations to come. I hope that these statements never be uttered nor heard again by anyone. Parents should be parents not only by paper but also by heart.