The following blog/article was published in The Nation newspaper yesterday. Here below however, is the originally un-edited, submission)
Well, happy Mother’s Day has passed again, a joyous time of the year for children all over the land to be inundated with media reports and stories on the unconditional love between mother and child. A splendid occasion for all the kids to realize the immense gratitude they ought to hold for their mothers, regardless to whether their moms have done little for them besides giving birth and stuffing a bottle milk in their mouths.
The majority of mothers of course, deserve unanimous credit for their enduring responsibility of their descendants and be well worthy of any so-called unconditional love. On the other hand, there are plenty who do not. But never mind though, the land’s kids are taught that no matter how irresponsible their mothers are, they are to be shown the upmost gratitude
Just prior to the captivating mood of Mother’s Day, instead of just pondering the usual shocking dad and uncle newspaper headlines, I was on the not so jubilant end of reading quite horrifying Thai language news reports of quite hideous moms. None of which were mentioned again during Mother’s day festivities. Just to wet your taste-buds, one nauseating mother on hoping to be the recipient of a check for millions of baht worth of insurance, planned that her son-in-law via her daughter indulge in the eradication of the latter’s father. This was complimented with another atrocity of another old-mommy who was found guilty of arranging the repeated seduction of her twelve year-old daughter at the hands of her new boyfriends.
For most kids as usual, Mother’s Day was a delightful time to weep on their mum’s shoulders and contemplate the benevolent deeds bestowed upon them. For a lot of kids however, it was a tearful time to ponder a different reality; one in which they seldom saw their real moms since they had been dumped off with granny at the tender age of two and a half month. Not once, during Mother’s Day festivities on TV, did I read about the forgotten plight of children who had been abandoned by mothers who had gone to the big city with frivilous promises of sending back big wads of cash. Yet however, many of these cheerless kids, will be brought up to believe “But your mother has always loved you”.
A lot of underprivileged kiddies are brought up taught that it was daddy who was the baddie and that he was the one irresponsible for their lives’ predicaments. When in reality, it was the fault of both parents, dad getting the thicker end of the stick. Now, every child has the right to go to school, but unfortunately theory isn’t always put into practice, but the idea of using the child as a money-making tool is. While some supposedly beloved female offspring ought to be in school trying to complete a Grade 6 education, mom has insisted instead that she be on the streets at the stroke of midnight, either pedaling religious garlands to locals or knocking off packs of chewing gum to wealthy foreign tourists.
Child labour is a serious problem and we are constantly informed that it is due to poverty. But certainly not always – let’s have a look at the case scenario of lovely Miss Kat, another hard-working primary school girl in her provincial town. In order to help pay for her so-called educational and domestic costs, she has been instructed by mom to wash the dishes at some round-the-clock rice soup restaurant. After handing over her monthly salary however, she is soon completely bewildered to see her miserly mother clutching a dozen lottery tickets, while eagerly scanning through a newspaper cut-out in the hope that she has miraculously won millions. The next day, instead of Miss Kat having enough left-over cash for the school bus fare and lunch, she is stuck at home viewing first-hand her mother, in the living room with door-bolted, gambling the rest of her earnings on a Hi-Lo card game with some local neighbours.
Even when their children grow up, there are countless mothers out there, who see their kids, especially daughters (generally, sons aren’t so daft) as walking ATMs. Playing on the ‘Kreng jai mae’ hype (having innate gratitude for mothers) custom, the children are helpless but to earn cash for their moms regardless to what type of employment they may be subjected to. As mentioned above, a lot of these daughters never bother undertaking what they have promised their moms, and do instead simply sneak away. According to the local ways of thinking, that kind of woman is an appalling daughter who has no consideration for mom. Needless to say, it is an endless cycle of ‘children = money-making tool’, which is passed down from one generation to the next.
This kind mentality is not just synonymous with some working-class rural or urban folk, but it is also embedded in a different sort of way – in the psyche of some wealthier social class folk. Another Miss Kat, this one having been fortunate enough to be raised in a more privilege society, is soon dumbfounded to why her mother dictates to her about her future university, career and even husband. Should she care to relate any of her own ideas, she will be on the receiving end of a scolding and informed that it is shameful to argue with the person who has given birth to her – she ought to realize the agonizing time she has made her mother go through. “Oh no…the ‘Kreng jai mae’ sketch all over again!
Then we have another batch of privileged kids, whose mothers having raised them in such a spoilt way, that they believe themselves a member of the distinguished few who can get away with any kind of brute behaviour whatsoever. Even if they are a complete nuisance to society – well never mind like, their beloved mothers have taught them that they are ‘innately special’ and should be given entitled consideration, especially in comparison to any lower-class loser. We have read countless reports of spoilt brats in the papers, who after getting themselves caught in serious trouble, are next pleading innocence in front of the camera while holding mommy’s hand. Even if the child is a female university attendee who has been filmed red-handed drugged-up indulging in sordid debauchery at some university gathering – well again, her mother will be jumping in with a flimsy defense plea. More often than which involves putting the entire blame on everyone one else, besides her irresponsible self and delinquent child.
For any spoilt smart-aleck, there is even a fabulous Thai way that can legitimize any wayward behaviour and the customary ‘I am never wrong’ attitude. It goes like this, until this day, it is a Thai custom that when a child clumsily hurts himself while say attempting to hurdle a chair, mother will be there – not to blame the child, but to knock the naughty piece of furniture with her knuckles and say ‘Very bad chair’. As you could well imagine, that is not exactly one custom which is helping to condition the land’s kids at such an extremely young age.
Parenthood and that which has been emphasized today, motherhood – consists of raising children to the best of ones ability and not for the sole-purpose of future financial windfalls. That said, responsible parenting also includes teaching children that they are in no way special or superior to others and that they ought to limit and be accountable for their own behaviour.