By Herbert L. Vego
MY son Norbert, a nurse, recently turned 49. It brought back memories of how I guided him through childhood.
One of such memories was asking God for guidance on how to rear him properly. Lifting page after page of the Bible, I found it: “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 him to finish school and to marry only after he would have established himself in a profession.
I must have overstretched my advice because, at 49, 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 late brother Efren and I were the “favorite” errand boys of our late dad, who would often ask us to buy him cigarettes.
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 children of the well-off in this country, things may end up well. They graduate, find employment or business oppotunity, 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, many 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.
In the pre-World War 2 days, 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 gas-station attendant.
The K-12 program stretching high school from four to six years has failed to make a difference. That explains the now overwhelming clamor for its abolition.
Even tertiary education is no guarantee for landing white-collar jobs. We only have to look at college graduates ending up as housemaids or caregivers in foreign countries.
We have efficient nurses who have to work abroad to escape “starvation wage” in local hospitals.
Incidentally, while I was in Journalism school, I noticed that most of my classmates could not write a simple news story. I knew they would end up non-journalists after graduation.
A goal is not enough. It should be the right one, and not merely a response to a parent’s wish. The clarion call of the moment is to ensure that our children earn a living where their skills match the demand.
Incidentally, have you ever wondered why cart-pulling horses wear eye-side covers? It’s to ensure that they run their course undistracted.
ZAR BORONGAN SIGNS OFF
FAREWELL to another media colleague, Lazaro “Zar” Borongan, who passed away last June 29 at age 69. He had worked as newscaster/commentator in three radio stations in Iloilo City and one in Bacolod City since the 1980s.
He had the unique talent of broadcasting news in Ilonggo while translating it live from an English newspaper.
Condolences to the bereaved family – his wife Nona, daughters Helen Rose, Jeanie Vieve, Love Grace and She Mie.
The last time I met him over coffee at Hotel del Rio, he lamented about his failing health (dizziness) but at the same time expressed joy over the success of his children in their chosen profession.
From a text message by another broadcaster, Soc Abonado, I learned that three of Zar’s daughters (two nurses and an accountant) now work abroad; only Helen Rose (another accountant) still works here at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).