Letters of Youth


/ 7 September 2020

This pandemic is teaching us a lot of things. It is bringing quite a handful of challenges as well as feats. It has been bringing the family either closer together or farther apart. If the latter fits your situation, then here are five things you can share or read to your parents.

      1. We are in a pandemic, and our situation is unpredictable.

Some, if not all, of your 2020 plans, goals, or whatever have no doubt been hampered, and that also applies to whatever plans or goals your children have. This 5-month long quarantine made everything quite uncertain. Even some educational institutions are still having a hard time building a concrete plan.

Hence, stop pressuring your children, especially those who had just graduated, about their next plan of action. Stop pressuring them about their academic, employment, or business endeavors. They may have planned everything back in January, or even before 2020. However, no one could have possibly created a Plan B in case a pandemic hits. Well, if they did, that’s very smart.

Again, stop pressuring your children. The ground is unstable; no one knows where to step.

      2. This pandemic indirectly brought numerous adverse emotional issues.

Since Filipinos, especially the older generations, tend to put emotional issues in the category of imaginary, allow me to cite from a research article:

“In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behavior are also expected to rise” (WHO, 2020).

This pandemic built a room for anxiety and stress to thrive. Your child might seek isolation, or they might bound themselves in the comfort of their beds. They might become oversensitive or too unresponsive. They may feel a lot of things or nothing at all. And at some point in this pandemic, you may have experienced some adverse emotional outbursts too.

So before dismissing the actions of your child as mere kaartehan, or katamaran, consider that the pandemic didn’t only bring a deadly respiratory illness but it also indirectly brought and heightened unhealthy emotional issues.

      3. Your house is not a battleground.

This quarantine might have opened your partner’s Pandora’s box of unpleasant and unwanted behaviors. It might have amplified any issues you have in your marriage. Whatever problems you’ve both tried to hide or ignore, might have brought into the light. However, your house is not a battleground. It is not a rap battle stage. And the winner cannot be determined by whoever is the loudest and angriest.

These unproductive arguments will not only reap scars to your relationship, but it might also sow seeds of internalized trauma to your child. I’m not saying that you should avoid arguments because that’s unhealthy. And it wouldn’t possibly work for the best. Nonetheless, seek healthy and useful conversation with both of you listening and responding. Interrupting only means you’re listening to respond, not listening to understand.

Moreover, don’t shout. I can’t emphasize this enough, but just – don’t shout. It will only be difficult for the other person to process what you say rationally. It’s counter-productive and toxic to the home environment.

      4. Everyone walks on a different path.

One of the main objectives of Facebook and Instagram is to connect with friends and family. And with the stay-at-home order, you’re pretty much given a lot of time to browse, and I have nothing against that. However, don’t compare your child to whoever successful person in your feed. Don’t use your precious time to criticize and compare the achievements of your friends, relatives, or even a stranger’s child to whatever your child had achieved. It’s unhealthy and toxic not only for you but especially for your child.

Although your intention might be to encourage them (albeit misguided), it only increases their anxiety and stress. Even if your criticisms and comparisons might come from a place of love, it can still decrease their self-esteem. When you feel like comparing, just watch cat videos, funny mishaps, resin crafts, random facts, make-up transformations, K-drama clips, or just take a nap.

      5. Your child is not an emotional punching bag.

Figuratively speaking, your child is not some inanimate object that you can punch whenever you’re mad. They are not there to absorb abuse – both verbally and physically. They are not there to be an outlet for your frustrations.

I get it. There are some days where the feeling of irritation immediately comes after you open your eyes, but your children are not dartboards. There are some days where the world seems against you, but your children should not be the target of your irritation and anger.

In our (toxic) culture, it is considered rebellious and disrespectful to speak up for yourself and voice an opinion towards an elder, no matter how wrong they are. And you know what? I get it. That’s how you protect your intangible position of authority. However, they are not your emotional punching bag. They’re humans with legitimate feelings. And you are in no position to accuse them of being too sensitive.

Remember that there are only enough offensive things a person can hold. There are only enough cuts a person can endure. There are only enough before they entirely retaliate, or before they ultimately give up.