Dear parents: Your children don’t owe you anything for giving birth to them

The Philippines has a fixation on the idea of utang ng loob. For those who are not familiar, it’s a sort of indebtedness that we feel. Inject that into the family context and you’ve possibly got the makings of a toxic situation. It’s not wrong to feel indebted to family for raising you, but once it gets to the point that you’re forcibly told or reminded that without them there would be no you, that’s when it becomes problematic.

Especially when it’s the parents saying it. Saying things like we have no respect for our life-givers, that we owe them for bringing us here at all, or that we have no utang ng loob for what they’ve done for us.

I’m here to say: We don’t owe you for giving birth to us.

First, it was your decision to have us. We didn’t ask to be born, you decided you wanted a child. And for those who didn’t plan on having a kid, it was your decision to keep us and raise us. Something you decided to do without our input–because we weren’t even around yet. It’s your responsibility as a parent to raise us

If you guilt your child into thinking they owe you for having them, then you’re a bad parent and need to turn that around immediately. It was your choice. And we have a right to be raised properly. No, it’s not the bare minimum, it’s an actual set of rights we have.

Children aren’t a security or safety net or a retirement plan, we’re human beings. You don’t have kids so you have security when you’re older. You have kids because you want to love another human being. We aren’t here so you feel secure when you’re old, because that places a burden on us that shouldn’t be there in the first place. You don’t tell someone they’re a miracle of life and then shackle them with the responsibility of caring for you when you’re older.

The narrative that you’re entitled to our respect, time, and future earnings just because you carried us in the womb for 9 months is long-outdated. No, we don’t owe you for that. You chose to do that. You can bemoan all the pain it caused you all you like but it’s still something you chose to do. If you claim to love us at all, then our expected indebtedness to you shouldn’t exist.

Of course, some children will feel indebted to their parents out of respect because they were raised well and, out of love, want to give back. That’s different. But children shouldn’t have to feel the need to give back, especially if they’re forced to. We don’t owe you anything. Period.

What do you think? Let us know!

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