April 12, 2008

When your child is out of control

Something Like Life
April 11, 2008

SOME friends and I were walking along Bonifacio High Street one evening, trying to exercise away the humongous shabu-shabu meal we had just ingested, when a group of young shrilly girls came toward us. They were probably in their early 20s, with boobies a-popping out of their thin sleeveless blouses and wearing the shortest skirts that came up to where their butt cheeks began to show. If they only weren’t speaking in English in that colegiala twang, we would’ve thought they were refugees from the hooker districts of Manila on their way to meet their pimp. Or trannies on the prowl.

As usual, Miggy made the most astute observation, about how young girls now have to try really hard, competing with one another just to get noticed by boys. And, of course, the easiest way to do that is to dress rather skimpily, and talk ever so loudly in flirtatious tones. Maybe they think Britney Spears in her slutty clothes is the height of fashion. Then I thought: Where were their parents when they put on those clothes for a night on the town?

Parenting, and how difficult the task is these days, is what I think most of whenever someone mentions Brian Gorrell, the Australian blogger whose Pinoy ex-lover allegedly stiffed him of a large amount of money. In his blog, we have been inundated with gossip and allegations of how some scions of supposedly de buena familias in Manila have been living it up with their noses buried in cocaine, giving new meaning to the term “high society.” With the allegations of freeloading, bad oufits, incest and even murder, I can understand the venom, scorn and contempt that have flooded the comments section of Gorrell’s blog.

(Frankly, I have stopped reading it because of too much negativity there. Now, if the allegations are true about the main subject of the blog, I do hope Gorrell gets paid back every cent owed him. I don’t belittle the misfortune that befell him, but as sis would always say, “We are fools for love.” We make our own stupid choices for love and we suffer for it.)

Why the infamous subjects of the blog behave the way they do—and in truth, this is not the first time we in media have heard about it and what goes on in that party place that has been mentioned several times in the blog—we probably may never thoroughly understand. Most of them have had the benefit of having studied in reputable universities like many of those who read this equally respectable paper, so many people automatically blame it on their upbringing.

But I think it would be simplistic and convenient to blame the parents for the mess these socialites—or social climbers—are in. (One trivia that has come up via the old media is that the mother of one of the antagonists in this Internet telenovela, was involved in a corrupt government deal that was the talk of the town just a decade ago. A few observers cite this factoid as a way to explain her child’s alleged dishonesty—monkey see, monkey do.) Besides, there are many examples of people who have been in far more luckless circumstances while growing up, or have had the worst parents imaginable, but who managed to come out of their sordid experiences as strong, upstanding citizens.

Needless to say, I cannot imagine how parents do it these days. If both parents are working, there is just not enough time in the day to be with one’s kids, minister to their needs and make them adhere to the common rules of proper, decent behavior. What more if one parent is away, working in some foreign country, as in the case of many OFW families these days. The parenting task can only be more daunting in such situations.

Then there are just too many temptations out there—sex, drugs, Internet porn, cigarettes, alcohol, Internet gaming—that parents can hardly keep up with their duty to be the moral guardians of the family. When even the tightest controls and parental monitoring systems fail, what avenue for instilling appropriate conduct is still available? What can parents do when their child has gone out of control?

Many parents will tell you that there is no guidebook in the world that will prepare a parent for the responsibilities. When rearing a child, sometimes it is a case of hit-and-miss. You can be the best father or mother in the world, but your child still ends up dead in someone else’s flat from drug overdose.

Of course, all this doesn’t absolve parents of the responsibility of trying to bring up decent, well-behaved and sensible children. So when they see their children now adults behaving like irresponsible shitless fucks who think having fun is the only sole purpose of their existence, parents just cannot be defensive about it. They cannot deny that there is a problem and just send the children abroad to escape the consequences of the latter’s tomfoolery. Condoning their children’s stupidity makes them equally guilty. Parents whose kids have gone wrong just have to accept that despite their maybe impeccable parenting skills, their children have fallen off-track and have become nuisances to society. Leaving them to their own devices where they can hurt other people or themselves is not an option.

No matter how old a wayward child is, parents cannot abdicate their roles as the moral and ethical compass in the family. They need to be consistent and unfaltering in their implementation of rules for decent behavior and, of course, be unimpeachable role models themselves. One thing they cannot do is lose hope that their child can still change or be rehabilitated with the right kind of help, be it the psychological kind.

I think another thing Brian Gorrell’s blog has taught many of us is that parents these days have to work even doubly harder than before to keep their kids in line, protect them from falling into the wrong crowd and becoming slaves to their basest desires. That kind of 24/7 protection and monitoring may be exhausting and, perhaps, nearly impossible to do in this day and age, but it must be done. Not doing so can only lead to damaging and maybe irreparable consequences.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday, in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photo from BM)

UPDATE: The subject of Brian Gorrell's blog – DJ Montano (now we can finally publish his name as he already appeared in public) – was on Korina Sanchez's show last night basically denying everything that his ex- said. I wasn't able to watch the show as I'm in Tagaytay (and the frigging DREAM TV, of course, has no ANC feed!). Too bad that Brian declined to do a face-off with DJ via phone patch.

Anyway, here's a Youtube post of ABS-CBN's TV Patrol World featuring bits of the Montano interview, including sound bytes from his mother, stepfather, and sister. Will post a better video once we get a hold of one.

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