If there is anything we wish for 2018, it's the hope that we all become wiser and empathetic especially when we're on social media. Many of this year's "viral" stories are gentle reminders of the things we as grown-ups should take the lead in because after all, we should know better.
In December alone, there were three recent events that made a huge buzz online. There are a few lessons to be gleaned from these happenings, and it is important for us parents to impart these to our children as we continuously guide them to become better individuals.
1. Let us not forget we are our children's first role models. Teaching by example often means biting our tongue. And it may be a lesson that Paolo Duterte, vice mayor of Davao City, may have belatedly realized as he resigned from his government post on Christmas Day.
He cited “recent unfortunate events in my life that are closely tied to my failed first marriage,” as reported by ABS-CBN News. This decision was in part due to his very public social media spat with his 17-year-old daughter, Isabelle, whom he called, in Bisaya, “disrespectful” and “a disgrace” on his official Facebook account, as reported by Pep.ph and other media outlets. (The post has since been deleted with the vice mayor deactivating his official Facebook account.)
While we understand that Vice Mayor Duterte may have lashed out because of disappointment and anger at his daughter, he was the father, and he could have chosen a better way of reaching out to his daughter. Airing dirty laundry on social media will always leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Social networking sites are considered public domain, so we should always be mindful of what other people will feel when they see our posts. Think before you click is something that everyperson should consider before posting content on their accounts.
Moreover, it is our responsibility as parents to lead by example, and it doesn't end when our kids become teenagers. “Kids are most influenced by persons toward whom they feel the strongest attachment and deepest respect,” says Dr. Michele Borba, a world-renowned parenting and character formation expert. “They are also more likely to copy these individual’s moral beliefs."
We’ve written a great number of articles that talk about parenting your child well, and many of these arrive at the same conclusions: Having a real conversation helps in understanding and getting to know your child better, and yelling and criticizing does more harm than good. Before expecting him to be a kind, loving, and respectful child, take a good look at yourself first. Do you emulate these values? More importantly, is your relationship with your child mutually respectful?
“You treat your child with love and respect, and he will treat you the same way in return,” says Borba.
2. Sometimes, kids know best. When KrisAquino started sharing more of her life on social media, many netizens started taking notice of her children, especially her youngest son, Bimby, who appeared on many of her Facebook videos. Netizens nit-picked on his mannerisms and way of speaking and started questioning his sexuality.
Kris is known for taking her bashers and trolls head on, but this time around, it was Bimby himself who put the overly curious netizens in their place. In one of Kris’ videos, where she was doing a tour of her home, the 10-year-old addressed the rumors nonchalantly.
“People think I’m a homosexual,” Bimby says in the video. Then he looks at the camera and asks, “Why would you judge a child? We’re still learning about ourselves and puberty hasn’t struck for me yet.”
We always have our children’s best interests at hearts — parents know best, as they say. But more often than not, our children will also surprise us with their insights. When this happens, we should acknowledge and validate their feelings, and listen to whatever they have to say.
In the case of Bimby, Kris taught us a valuable lesson on parenthood: “Don’t judge a child and don’t make the decisions for the child,” she says in the same video.
Yes, as their moms and dads we have to guide our kids to the right path, but ultimately, we also have to put our trust in them and have faith in their ability to make their own decisions.
3. We are not entitled to anyone’s family pain if they choose not to share it. Just a few days before Christmas, this photo of 17-year-old IcaPolicarpio, who went missing from a coffee shop in Parañaque, went viral. Filipinos responded to the Policarpio family’s call for help by sharing the said image on various social media sites, with many Pinoys sending prayers and hopeful wishes that she will be found by Christmas day.
However, some netizens changed their tune when Ica was found safe and sound on Christmas eve. Instead of feeling relief and respecting the family’s request for privacy, many clamored for the parents to reveal the true reason for their daughter's disappearance. A website even wrote an article that said the family owed the public closure because they appealed for the netizens’ help. The hateful comments prompted the family to issue a public statement through their older daughter, Bea Policarpio’s, Facebook account.
If there’s one parenting lesson that we can learn from all that transpired, it’s that we are not entitled to anyone’s family pain if they choose not to share it. The Policarpio family turned to social media, a powerful tool in this generation, to find their lost daughter. There is no doubt that many of us would do the same if we were ever in that situation. As parents, we should understand the pain of searching for a lost loved one, and doing whatever it takes to find them. And just because she ran away, which her parents didn't know when they pleaded for help, it doesn't mean she deserved less understanding.
We are not in social media to judge. Yes, we live in a generation where your every move can be seen, but we should know better than to draw conclusions based on rumors and judge other parents for the way they raise their children.
Parenting is different for everyone. While the Policarpio family may have opened up to the public about their daughter’s disappearance, we still have no idea what really goes on inside their home or what they are going through as a result of what happened.
One of our Facebook readers named Cherry Sindatok, who commented on our article about the Policarpio family’s statement, said it best: “Ang pagtulong sa kapwa ay walang hinihiling na kapalit.”