Pursuant to the natural right and duty of parents over the person and property of their unemancipated children, parental authority and responsibility shall include the caring for and rearing them for civic consciousness and efficiency and the development of their moral, mental and physical character and well-being. ~Article 209 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
While the law seems to be a very serious topic for most people, I say that the Family Code of the Philippines is still is applicable to our modern society. It encompassed the general rules on how we maintain a harmonious family life, especially if you don’t know where to start parenting your growing children. I find this code very beautiful as it is very Christian, democratic and respectful to human life. The provision on Parental Authority is actually a great guide for us in our roles as parents especially in internet parenting. It can address the most burning parenting issues such as follows:
How much authority do you have?
The law states that both parents are in authority to make decisions for the well-being of their children as long as you all live with under the same roof. Therefore, you can set all family rules needed as long as all members (including extended family and the yaya) agree with it. Like any other rule, there are negotiable and non-negotiable rules. You as parents have the power to set non-negotiable rules on pornography, drugs, internet abuse, dating age and anything that can distort you harmonious family life. The thing I notice with lenient parents nowadays is that, they do not know how to implement rules. You first have to assert your authority to uphold what the family values most- just make sure every member feels mutual with it. How much authority do you have? It entirely depends on the responsibility you are willing to undertake for your children.
How much freedom to give?
A modern parent’s dilemma is sparing the rod. The provision says that children should be treated with respect and love. So we teach them respect and love: freedom can only be attained when members do their share in your family life. Your kids want 1 more hour more on Facebook? Sure! What can they do in return, wash the dishes? The idea is simple; people don’t value things they got for free. Before you give freedom, make sure they know what they held accountable for, too.
How to Deal with Right to Privacy?
Teens clamor independence, so it is common to have arguments about “space”, “privacy” and “respect”. When we make comments on their Facebook posts, they accuse us of invading privacy. You can actually solve this by having a clear agreement; you respect their right to privacy as long as they respect family rules. A suspicious behavior (like failing grades, internet addiction, etc.) that disturbs family safety & harmony leads into revoking the right to privacy. Like a warrant being served, you have to communicate to them properly when asking questions, checking their belongings as well as monitoring their social network activity.
How much parenting do I have to give? They are grown-ups aren’t they?
Another thing that disturbs me is that most parents expect that their kids “already know what to do” by the age of 14-15. This is the main reason why our age of majority is set at least 18 (some provisions such as marriage is at 21). Legally speaking, we don’t stop ordering around until they are totally emancipated from our care (not necessarily at 18, but when they become truly independent, ie: had a family on their own). This does not mean that we won’t love them anymore, when they become emancipated, we treat them fairly as adults. We parents have to understand that while a child is under our custody, he is our legal responsibility. So if your teen is at risk for internet dating, you have the obligation not just to remind her, but to make sure she adhere to our call for personal safety.
In the end, it’s not all about the rules. Parenting is all about what we care for: the safety and well being of the whole family. No matter what guide we use, (Bible, the Law or Froebel) the very foundation of any parenting style is love.