Tuesday, March 21, 2017

IN 1973 when my only son came into this world, I asked for God’s guidance on how to rear him properly. Lifting page after page of the Bible, I finally found it in this verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go, so that when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

I reminded my son about the path tread by Dr. Jose Rizal, who had said, “The youth is the hope of the fatherland.”

I asked him to finish school and to marry only after he would have established himself in a profession.

I must have overstretched my advice because as a 43-year-old nurse today, he is still single.

It is never easy for us parents to transform our children’s hope into reality. There is no “standard” way to do it. Telling them what to do differs from showing them how.

When we were children, my brother Efren and I were the “favorites” errand boys of our dad, who would often ask us to buy him a cigarette stick or two.

Ironically, he would also advise us not to take up the same vice.

Alas, it only aroused our curiosity to try smoking when our father was not looking. While I managed to resist addiction, Efren got hooked and kept on smoking until after our father died of lung cancer.

The transition to adulthood inspires a mix of excitement and anxiety. There is excitement in taking steps to realize emerging dreams, aspirations and possibilities. Yet there is anxiety in making the result-oriented moves.

Most of us who are now parents have lived through those anxieties and are now in the position to convince our kids that they, too, will survive the same transition. For the privileged youth of this country, things may end up well. They graduate, find employment, handle independence and make responsible decisions.

Nevertheless the transition to adulthood is never an automatic or uncomplicated process. Kids, no matter what their background and family financial status, need a set of basic connections to help them navigate to young adulthood. They need the guidance, the time and often the financial help of a stable, secure family.

Unfortunately, lots of young people lack the resources and support they need. Most children of the poor enroll in the grade school but very few enter and finish college, thus missing the skill, experience, education and confidence for successful transition to adulthood.

Meanwhile, their chances of becoming decent adolescents grow smaller while that of turning to crime for survival, bigger. Moreover, they will have difficulty advancing beyond low-wage work.

They will likely continue living in high-poverty, low-resourced communities. Perhaps most discouraging, with diminished opportunity to build economic security, they will considerably be less likely to become stable providers for their own kids.

Gone are the days when a high school diploma was sufficient to obtain a job that could support a family. Today, high school completion is the minimum entry credential for employment as “gasoline boy” or gas-station attendant.

Even tertiary education is no guarantee for landing white-collar jobs. We only have to look at professional teachers ending up as housemaids or caregivers in foreign countries.

A goal is not enough. It should be the right one, and not merely a response to a parent’s wish. Incidentally, while I was in Journalism school, it noticed that most of my classmates could not write a simple news story. I knew they would end up non-journalists after graduation.

The clarion call of the moment is to ensure that our children reach success regardless of obstacles.

Have you ever wondered why cart-pulling horses wear eye-side covers? It’s to ensure that they look and run straight ahead, undistracted. (hvego@yahoo.com/PN)



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