• Why #WeStandwithKiefer Sends the Wrong Message to Young Dads Like Me

    "Standing with Kiefer adds fuel to the fiery criticism on this generation’s prevalent helicopter parenting style."
    by Omar Glenn D. Belo .
  • You don’t want to be in the shoes of Kiefer Ravena’s parents right now. 

    Just a year removed from one shocking controversy, the young PBA and Gilas Pilipinas player sees his promising career hit another major obstacle for failing a drug test from the world’s leading basketball authority. 

    I don’t know what my parents would have done if I was caught cheating in my personal and professional relationships for two straight years. All I know is they threatened to stop paying for my education after they caught me watching the R-18 movie Desperado during school hours when I was 11 years old. I can only imagine the horrible places where the 24-year-old Ravena would end up if he was my brother.

    But instead what we have is the #WeStandwithKiefer movement, and even this millennial parent sees what’s inherently wrong in taking that side.

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    First, let me point out that I get why Ravena’s supporters stand with him in this tumultuous time. I hear my son wail (it doesn't matter that he's 6 years old now), and I’m instantly on “whodunit” mode, seeking retribution or at the very least justification for my kid’s temporary suffering. To protect their young ones from harm is an instinctive reaction for parents.

    But standing with Kiefer sends the wrong message. And it adds fuel to the fiery criticism on this generation’s prevalent helicopter parenting style — the overprotective, always hovering kind of parents ready to blame anyone but themselves when their children are precisely the ones at fault.

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    Supporting an apologetic Ravena in his time of vulnerability is not wrong. But fuelling that #WeStandwithKiefer narrative is.

    To #StandWithKiefer is to cry out against the injustice done on Ravena. But the facts in this case clearly show the exact opposite.

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    The Gilas guard was the guilty one in two instances: taking a salesperson’s word in drinking the post-workout drink carrying the banned substances, and failing to declare his act before the doping test last February. Fiba imposing an 18-month suspension instead of the usual multi-year ban in similar cases could already be considered an act of justice. Sadly, his handlers failed to see the error in driving this whole #WeStandWithKiefer thing, shifting the blame on Ravena’s detractors and turning the guilty party into the poster boy for anti-doping awareness. 

    Being a young parent myself, I’m in no position to tell you what side to take. Supporting an apologetic Ravena in his time of vulnerability is not wrong. But fuelling that #StandwithKiefer narrative is, because what it does is it strips the PBA rookie of accountability, one he’s readily taken in his press conference last Monday (May 28). If Ravena has taken the blame, there’s no need to seemingly patronize him with the #StandwithKiefer posts. It is this exact behavior of parents that leads to raising entitled children — that they can make mistakes, honest or not, and not take on the full consequence of their actions on their own.

    The guy himself already apologized and owned up to his mistake, and it’s best we leave it at that.

    As my wife, whom I asked for a young mother’s perspective just to add some authority as it is my first time writing about parenting for an audience of mothers, “Ang mali, mali.” 

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    Now if you still feel the need to show your support for an athlete who’s done a lot of good for the country, wish him well but skip the hashtag. For all his physical and basketball gifts, Ravena gets the perfect opportunity to learn one last piece greatness requires — one value all children need and all parents should develop in their young kids. Let’s all leave Kiefer on his own in the next 18 months to learn true grit.

    Father to a pogi son, husband to a beautiful wife, and a storyteller since birth, Omar Belo was formerly the managing editor of sports website Spin.ph. He was also the managing editor of Men's Health Philippines.

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