Sep 19, 2018

Last Sep. 17, Monday, a netizen posted a now-deleted picture of a five-year-old girl crying alone outside a cinema. Her parents had wanted to watch an R-rated movie, and rather than just changing plans to accommodate their child, they instead made the supremely reasonable and rational decision to leave her with the movie usher. Adding insult to injury, she was abandoned so they could watch The Nun, which isn’t even a good movie.

Add this to the list of parents who leave their children behind so they could do some frivolous stuff. Just a few months ago, the internet was in uproar over another couple of negligent parents. In this case, the parents left their crying two-year-old toddler behind in their locked car so they could go partying at a nearby bar in Pasig.

Is it too much to ask parents not to willingly traumatize and endanger their children by putting their own wants before their own progeny?

We’re not telling you to stop going to the movies or to bars. But, please, you literally have children, so be responsible and sensible adults. Want to watch a mature movie? Make sure that there’s someone (and that’s someone you know and trust, not some random stranger) who can look after your kid while you watch. Don’t just leave them behind. They could be kidnapped, taken advantage of, or killed.

Say what you did “worked out” and your child is left physically unscathed (no one kidnapped the lone girl at the cinema, and the baby in the car didn’t die of heat exposure). Even then, there’s still the fact that you’ve likely traumatized your child by leaving them behind. It may seem like just a one-off thing to you, but to your children, it won’t. Children remember, and they get scarred.

Maybe I’m being sensitive because this hits close to home. Up on my list of childhood neglect: I was once abandoned at a mall with my younger brother in a far-away city, and I had to stifle a panic attack as I tried to figure out how to get us back home. Even now I still shiver thinking about the rising panic I felt, and anxiety attacks are frequent and also the worst.

Sure, it’s not fun to be a parent and not get to do all the things you want to do unencumbered. But living through the trauma of neglect is infinitely more unfun. Parents can choose not to traumatize their children. Children can’t choose to not be traumatized.

Featured photo courtesy of Unsplash.

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