The absence of either parent in family life can adversely affect the development of a child’s character, exposing him or her to outside influences that will shape his or her behavior for better or worse.
A Church official and a psychologist reiterated this point in response to the murders of a 39-year-old mother and her daughter by her son in Naga City last week and a son’s murder of his mother in barangay Mambaling, Cebu City, two weeks ago.
Fr. Joe Dizon of the Archdiocese of Imus said the breakdown of family values can be linked to the migration of one or two parents for work abroad.
“The social cause of migration is not seen and it’s a problem, which should be addressed,” Dizon told reporters.
Dizon, convenor of the Church People-Workers Solidarity (CPWS), said the father’s absence and the mother’s reluctance to reconcile with her 16-year-old son caused him to grow bitter and lead him to friends who encouraged his destructive behavior.
The 16-year-old son admitted to murdering 39-year-old Virgindina Bantilan and his 5-year-old half-sister Geraldine at their home in Naga City last week.
The son grew up with his aunt while his mother got pregnant after working as a helper in Hong Kong, which he resented.
Dizon said the priority of parents to earn a living over bonding with their children can result in an “abnormal childhood.”
“Relatives and extended family can’t compensate for the presence of a mother or a father. It may cause children to become rebellious,” he said.
Dizon said the government should create employment in the country to draw more Filipinos to work back home instead of abroad.
For his part, psychology professor Mike Mende of the University of the Philippines Cebu College, said the presence of parents is invaluable in providing guidance to their children.
Mende said parents can act as filters in shielding children from violent experiences in the outside environment.
“How information is passed on is becoming something that we have to be concerned about, especially with the children,” Mende told Cebu Daily News.
He said children should be sheltered from media reports about violence. “It’s possible they would acquire (violent tendencies) or copy the incident.” Mende said the prevalence of reports of suicide cases, for example, when repeatedly told in public could prompt a child to imitate it.
He said children can become violent if they are in a dysfunctional family relationship. Mende advised parents to constantly talk with their children to hear out their grievances and concerns and steer them away from bad influence. With Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus