The Bottom Line on Poverty: Parenting

The discussion attached to the recent article “Happy Go Dead” Filipinosgenerated some interesting perspectives. The importance of parental guidance to children was raised, and the ignorance that blocks a lot of parents from understanding how to give responsible guidance to their kids. So the unfortunate behavior pattern of neglect for laws, lack of common sense and safety, and the low value seemingly placed on life in the Philippines feed from one generation to the next.

It strikes me that a lot of intelligent people in the Philippines understand that the Doctrine of the Catholic Church is one of the barriers to developing a more progressive Philippines. But they don’t have the power to change what the Church preaches to the masses. And the masses NEED to belong to the Church . . . because they are disenfranchised in Philippine society.
It is also apparent that many faithful Catholics choose not to follow Church Doctrine to the letter, using contraception to keep their families small. The educated and rich can go around the Church rules with no penalty, but the poor are held in bondage. Much as abused wives are held in bondage to their husbands with no recourse under law. To an outsider, it seems that this is not a kind Doctrine, to bind good people to misery without mercy.
Here is the essence of the fundamental parenting problem faced in the Philippines, stated without attribution so you can decide for yourself if it makes sense:
  • Children from large families develop more slowly psychologically, intellectually, and emotionally than children from small families. This is because children from large families usually have siblings teaching and guiding them whereas children from small families have parents guiding and teaching them. . . A sibling’s teaching and guidance is inferior to that of a parent because the sibling is not as developmentally, intellectually, and educationally mature as a parent is. Because of little or no parental involvement in their upbringing, many children from large families gravitate toward gangs and other negative groups where they want to belong, receiving the attention that they do not receive from their parents.
And parents gravitate toward the Church, which is rigid of Doctrine, immovable even as society’s wisdom progresses.  Here’s my latest thinking on that:
  • If the Church won’t budge, you declare her irrelevant and go around her.
  • If legislators are motivated by things other than national well-being, then go around legislators, too.
I’d suggest Filipinos figure out how to establish two new Philippine values: (1) that large families are taboo, and (2) that kids watch what parents do. If all the energy spent on the RH Bill were directed to seating new values on family size and parental responsibility, then both the Church and Legislature would be declared irrelevant, a position they earn by being intransigent.
The idea is to keep the two essential messages simple. They are stated for their ease of transmittal to the audience, parents with little financial means:
  • Large families are taboo.
  • Kids watch what parents do.
Lets push some ideas around.
The debate on the RH Bill has been positive, no matter the outcome, for many loud voices are speaking out against the values of the Catholic Church.  I hope the Church leaders wise up so the Church remains a vibrant, positive force for  those needing the blessings and solace their faith provides during the difficult times. If not, then she deserves to find her natural place in the irrelevancies of failed institutions.

But how do you tell an entire nation to be more thoughtful, to take better care of themselves and others?  To take better care of their CHILDREN. Especially when many parents have absolutely no idea what a positive family environment means.
Filipinos are largely self-contained and it is easy to guess why: centuries of occupation, a lot of clan or tribal animosities, and simply not being able to rely on anyone else. Everyone is taking care of himself, especially the 7th, 8th and 9th of 10 kids.
How do you teach parents the simple things, to start wearing a motorcycle helmet because it SHOWS KIDS that they should wear helmets when they are of age?
It is a massive problem.
  • Schools can’t do it well because kids go home and live the lawless, care-free, uncaring lifestyle taught them by parents.
  • Churches obviously can’t do it. The Catholic Church has been in charge for 500 year and look at what the priests have accomplished.  Lawless disobedience, cheating, corrupt acts. Poverty. Very pious leaders with one hand on the Bible and one in the taxpayer’s wallet.
  • It appears that government can’t do it because leaders have set aside public service to partake of the trade of favors, the bending to private interests that fund their campaigns, the buying of votes.
One small twinkle of light was shined by President Aquino in his 2012 SONA. He said two words: “responsible parenthood”. He followed this up by asking legislators to vote for the HR Bill for the betterment of the Philippines, not to vote against it for political gain.
His words got a rousing cheer at the SONA. Filipinos want a more responsible nation.
Responsible parenthood DOES NOT mean abortions, as the Church would argue. It DOES NOT mean condoms in every wallet and bedroom. It means TAKING CARE OF THE FAMILY.
It means, in its largest sense, not beating your wife or skipping town on the kids you’ve created. It means living safe and setting a good example. Like putting on a helmet whether there is a checkpoint or not. It means thinking about how to provide the best lifestyle for kids who ought to be learning information and values. Having a book or two around the house, perhaps. Keeping the kids out of the rice fields on school days. So many ways to provide a healthy and thoughtful environment for the family.
The RH Bill takes very strong steps toward establishing governmental programs to help build responsible parenthood. It is a vital bill, but progress need not be defeated if it fails to pass.
The best way to reach poor families is through public service messages on radio and television, and in newspapers, that create the idea of responsible parenting. It is within the power of the Executive Branch to find a crackerjack marketing guy or shift Mr. Jimenez from Tourism to develop such a campaign. Like the seed of a tree, plant the idea. Support it with community-based programs.
If the Executive3 Branch fails to do that, it is within the power of private groups to fund and develop public service messages.
It is possible to take a large stride toward responsible parenthood by popularizing two separate messages: Large families are taboo. Kids watch what parents do.
The tree of responsibility will not sprout overnight, but it will begin to grow. Parents will start searching for ways to demonstrate that they are responsible, too. Water finds its own level, and birth control methods will find their way actively into the Philippines.
Schools will find their teachings reach receptive ears, more frequently reinforced in the home.
Go directly to parents. Skip the Church and Legislature if they take the decision to remain irrelevant to a healthy, vibrant, richer Philippines.
And Philippine children will blossom.
25 Responses to “The Bottom Line on Poverty: Parenting”
  1. Cha says:

    I would think that most Filipino women wouldn't need any more convincing on the difficulties of having a large family. It's one of the reasons cited by some who have resorted to abortion.To my mind it's more about having equal access to the information or resources that has been available to someone like me, so that every other Filipino woman and her husband can likewise be empowered to make the same choice.What should be unacceptable is the withholding of opportunities for making better life choices to those who need them most when it is within our power to provide or ensure that they are provided to them.So many of the voices who have joined the clamor for the RH Bill belong to those who have been enabled to choose smaller families. They're not only being responsible parents, they have also taken on the responsibility fo speak for those who have yet to find their voice. I do hope their kids are watching them.

  2. You may be right, the bigger problem is resources than information. I look around my community, which is poor, and pregnancies and kids abound. That is a fairly evident fact.It will be interesting, this House vote. 20 government agencies engaged in fighting poverty have endorsed the RH Bill. The President has asked for its passage. The UN, WHO, Human Rights Watch, World Bank and every other global agency interested in the well-being of the Philippines urges its passage. Women's groups are clear on the importance.Standing against it is one PUBLIC INTEREST GROUP, the Catholic Church. In isolation.Who will legislators listen to?

  3. andrew lim says:

    Bingo! Let's post links to this article to social media! Taking personal responsiblity is the first step!

  4. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: The Cricket)1. I rather liked this essay for several reasons: It set up some pretty simple topics which I hopesomeone in the media, educational, government andor church community can eventually address with alarge degree of success.2. As to whom would do a good job for future growth, development, resource, etc., allocation Ican/am willing to leave that issue for a futurediscussion.3. I like to provide solutions and the idea ofPublic Service Annoucements (sponsored by whomever)appeals to me, the idea about publishing a set of commic books and visable media like posters areworkable tools which need to be promoted–if thegovernment/media would get together to agree ona workable program (forget the educators and churchas I see no hope for anything constructive comingfrom their organizations–except promotion of the"missionary positions" to benefit their wallets),besides they have done more harm than good ashistory has proven!4. As regards the present generation of so-called"Parents" (as I see them worthless- mindless "rabbits" and"rats"-until they are in a position to prove otherwise) theyhave become part of the problem…not the solution and needto be sent to "re-education" camps/centers for a good"brain-washing"! They care most about what is between theirlegs (not their ears) for their selfish old-age support bythe production of economic generators-aka: children! Sothey prefer to continue the cycle of misery!5. As of today the future of the PH island will be determined (left up?) to the congress by vote.As I see it, we be damned if they say yes or vote NO!The reason I make this statement is that the onlyimmediate creative and successful way to package aadvertising, promotion, public relations and educationalprogram based on reproducttive health responsibilty isto begin a "master plan" which would incorporate thedoctors, drug stores, wedding planners and support groups/companies,with the unconditional cooperation of the R/TV-film, video, newsprint, and of courseour government (politicans)! Then get the Boy/GirlScouts on board when the time is right to bring themis-educator community into the "fold"!Note: besides reproductive health, spotlight featureson civics, citizenship, island crisis, anti-violence andcrime would be very, very valuable central/core topicsand themes!So if the RH Bill passes the congress needs to fund itl00%….if the bill fails, the congress will have tofind money for more military, police, health, prisons,hospitals, cremation facilities, parking lots, masstransportation, food and fresh water production, publichousing, schools, pollution solutions, trash-processing plants,etc…!Chirp!

  5. Good thinking. Well, of course you helped by mentioning PSA's a couple of blogs ago. I'll have another blog later in the week that reviews some of the poverty reduction efforts underway. My only argument with what you say is that I think a lot of people don't really like their circumstance, but have no way (no resources) to get out. If they could get out, they would.

  6. Indeed it is. Post away. You've already gotten us some reads on the "Thousand Words" article via Riassa Robles. I tend to refrain from a lot of self-promotion, as it seems to cheapen the effort, but welcome others who find meaning here sharing what they find.

  7. Anonymous says:

    One thing I won't particularly like is a watered down version of RH bill. I'm for it but the delay in getting it passed, no thanks to the Catholic church, might make it go the way of the Generic Drugs Law. No teeth. Same free for all.

  8. It has already been watered down with removal of the section setting an ideal family size. But your concern is valid, and I hope it gets no more dilution. The House version still has to be fit to the Senate draft, so it has a long way to go.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Or, these public messages should simply highlight the average number of children from well off Filipinos. Maybe through a survey of kids attending the most expensive international schools?Philippine culture dictates that messages have to appeal to emotions to gain any traction. Shame perhaps? When factory laborers have 5-6 times more kids than factory owners, maybe people should start feeling stupid. Maybe this will set off some light bulbs.

  10. I think the messages could be very emotional, and shame is a good one. Certainly just "saying" cut down on family size would be ignored.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Monkey see, monkey do. Cut out the middleman. think is, most parents around these parts aren't too keen on trying new things, like actually standing up to THE moral authority in the land. if this works, though, the CC won't have any recourse but to conform to the new standard. Lest fix the schools, while we're at it too.Andy(Yb-Anderson)

  12. Yep, when the middle man is a pain in the neck, go around, or cut it out. It is simple military tactics. The schools need a lot of work, indeed.

  13. Anonymous says:

    have the (public) schools teach responsibility first, i'm pretty sure responsible parenthood follows on after that.Andy

  14. Yes, it should be on the agenda, along with other civic lessons about ethics and values (like ambition and aspiration). But a lot gets defeated if the kids go home and parents are setting exactly the wrong example.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I think lessons will have the same effect as posted signs on a wall saying it's illegal to piss here.I did however, saw a guy pissing against a wall while I was driving, honked my horn so loud he got startled and ended up pissing all over himself. When he started scratching his head I figure, maybe this is how we can change things. Make people feel real stupid.

  16. chohalili says:

    They should move the airport away from the city! people can't sleep! notice that's where all the squatters concentrate? they can't sleep 24/7. Population here is out of proportion, children are running around like banshees blame all this on Gloria Arroyo, she is so corrupt she even use the Vatican help on her last stand. If only we Flipino go without Catholicism , we would be in a better shape. I'm so worried about the Philippines, we produce too much people into pygmies, too much already that they grow up so incomplete, lack of proper nutrition, education, sense of being human, it become useless and unwanted by the society. When I watched the Olympic game how I wish we are part of them getting the medals:(((( my heart aches. I had a special tree in my backyard (akanashi) pear apple (crossbreed) the fruit are so sweet & juicy, it bears lots of fruits on season, but I train them, I removed a lot of fruits and leave only few so that they grow larger & sweeter and so perfect. But when I'm away and unable to train them I would come back with the tree full of small fruits, but discolored & not fit to eat. So I throw them away feeling sad.

  17. Yes, the lesson you make is clear. Roses also grow beautiful with lots of water, sunshine and care. The do okay with water and sunshine. They do spectacularly with care. Maybe orchids are like that, too. I'm still learning about them.

  18. Anonymous says:

    It seems counter-intuitive, don't you think, that the poor— overworked and exhausted by their daily toiling, malnourished, even starved, as they are, not to mention their cramped, unlivable environments– they seem excessively fertile and virile. In theory they should be diminishing, fertility dulled by poor nutrition and unsanitary living condition, and ravaged daily by the hardships and demands of survival. Don't tell me it escapes the poor's sense that every new child adds to the weary load of everyday living. –ricelander

  19. I'm stumped myself, yes. I can't project myself into that situation successfully and have not done or read any surveys. Maybe they do buy into the Catholic belief that life is precious, or maybe the belief that another kid is another person to send out to work and or forage for some food for today's meal.

  20. Anonymous says:

    @Cho-You're right about the link between airport noise and the nearby population booming. I remember Dr. Flavier, himself pro-RH, writing about squatters near the railroad tracks being awakened by the train running in the wee hours of the morning and with nothing better to do than make whoopee. Sex gets one to sleep, it seems.DocB

  21. chohalili says:

    Hi DocB,I remember when my friend asked me where I live, I said at Paranaque near the Airport at Multinational and he said you must have a big family and I said how did you know?:)))whooopi!

  22. Anonymous says:

    For Those did not know RH BillPlease Read Links below 10 Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines… Kids can buy easily without prescriptionSection 16 Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education from Grade 5 to 4th Year High School.10 to 11 years old teaching how to make sex without pregnancy? Are you insane… You think on these age children wont do experiment with there friends…RH Bill = ChinaRead Section 20 Ideal Family size… My Question what if Quadruplets one should be kill…Or if on your 2nd pregnancy twins… It should be kill one baby???RH Bill with Employers. Section 21Section 2 Decaltion of PolicyGirls are Sex ObjectNo Need for Marriage to have SexAny Age can have SexFree Sex… Wow so Good even I'm 35years old i can have sex with Grade 5 studentsa Art. II, Sec. 12 The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.”If a Child Pregnant and if she did'nt want it or if they dont have income the Pregnant woman can have abortion even without parents approval. If Parents Reject for abortion she may imprison and pay a thousand pesosfine that indicate on Section 29

  23. Thanks for offering up a pro-RH viewpoint. I think it is possible to imagine goblins everywhere, or to believe the things you mention don't happen now. Or worse things, like coathanger abortions. I would correct that there is no ideal family size section in the House Bill; it was struck in favor of re-orienting the bill away from population control and toward health. You seem to be happy with the way things are now. You are entitled to that view, and I know it is shared by the Catholic Church. Myself, I see kids picking through garbage for food and think "we can do better than this".

  24. erratum. "Thanks for offering up an anti RH Bill viewpoint . . .

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