Why is “Talking Back” Culture Unhealthy?

Words by Marielle Balmores

Parents and misunderstandings are never a good combination, especially when you’re nearing your twenties or in them. Yet the best thing to do really is to civilly make your point as they make theirs, then try to work it out, right? In Philippine culture, it is not that easy nor evident. As there are two sides to the argument, I want to focus more on the child’s side because it isn’t really brought up.

To the kids, do you recall the feelings that arise during a misunderstanding with your parents? As they give you their view on the issue, your hurt and anger begin to build up. Things begin to go unsteady and heated as they bicker back and forth about your faults. You, on the other hand, would remain (or try your hardest) to remain respectful and you would still listen to them regardless. Then just when you speak up and defend yourself so they can hear your side, things shift for the worse. These may be the words or something similar to these they say after, with some bodily gestures to catch you even more off guard. 

Aba aba, ang bastos mo!

“We work hard for you, so don’t be rude!”

“‘Wag mo akong sagutin ng ganyan!

“Who are you to talk back to us?”

“Huy, tumahimik ka! Walang hiyang bata.”

“Shut up!”

“Sige, sagut sagot ka pa diyan!”

And there we go, our words of defense are seen to be ill-mannered. This list of lines they say back, even in different languages, goes on. All of them equally stab just as much because they can instantly zipper our mouths shut because we wouldn’t want it to cause a much worse frenzy at home. Eventually, the argument would die minutes later so you can both blow off some steam and get space, but in the days to come, they come back to haunt you. If this continues to be their way of establishing their authority at home or to make their kids gain character development, then expect the unhealthy side effects to come around. Times are different and everything with it. 

What are those unhealthy side effects?

5. Kids can’t defend themselves properly.

After being shut down so painfully, they won’t bother to put up a fight because what’s the point if their parents won’t listen to nor consider them? Especially when their parents also would include the prior faults of their child as a means to “strengthen their argument,” it just doesn’t add up. In time, those kids become submissive as their voice is no longer valid. Their pain to their parents’ eyes, invisible. 

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4. So much pent-up emotions in them distract their focus.

There are definitely times we’re haunted by those intense arguments. We intensely reflect and may even regret what we did or didn’t say or the last statements we wanted to address so they would understand our side. But nope, you can’t stand any more trouble and let them say what they want to say. If only they knew how those words can really impact your day-to-day mood. 

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3. The trust between parents and children gradually decreases.

With hurt, kids build their walls up so they won’t be affected again. We’re less likely to open up to them because we are scared of what they might do or say. We tend to be more sneaky and dishonest. Also, we may become distant for a while so we can blow off the remaining steam. In times like this, we reflect and grow more thankful for the real friends who are more trustworthy and reliable when we just let it out. It’s already quite common how friends know us more than our parents because unlike our friends, they may not accept our beliefs full-heartedly. In the long run, our view of them may not be as jolly as it used to be.

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2. We view everything we learned from them as hypocritical.

They raised us to always make the right decisions and point out what is wrong. But, it is as if they are immune to that in this type of situation, thus making them hypocritical. Also, we were also taught to never lash out on anyone no matter how stressed we may be. How come they do that to us? Parents are humans too who make mistakes too, and when we find any wrongdoings on their part, tayo pa rin yung walang respeto. 

1. On a larger scale, this culture mirrors how the youth is treated by authority.

Even some of those in power find us irrelevant because of our contrasting ideas and morals in life since we were raised in different times.  Something they put into consideration is that our much younger ages are always a so-called “advantage” to them because bata kami, walang klarong alam sa tama at mali.  Although it’s obvious that we won’t see eye to eye in some situations, there is no need to have dominance over the other. We just want acceptance when we voice out our opinions rather than be barked at how we feel because the future of our country is really at stake. Again, times and outlooks have changed. And in case you are not alarmed, our generation is the future and based on our problematic present, rest assured that we will never back down and continue to for what is right and equal. As liberal as it seems, we will still do our best.

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Back to the kids, here’s a reminder to keep on. You are valid and your thoughts matter. Stand up for yourself even it’s a risk. Releasing pent up emotions liberate your soul from the extra emotional baggage. Though, don’t cross boundaries too. You are smart enough to know when not to interfere nor say the wrong things.

Then, to the parents, current and to-be. Do open your hearts more so you can fully understand us especially when we are from two different generations with different ideals. Don’t shut us down so quickly. We are not rebellious for being vocal; we just want to share our side. Think about this for a moment: would you prefer a submissive child with repressed emotions after being shut down completely or a straightforward yet logical kid who is ready to deal with a mature conversation?

Also if ever we argue after work and you’re both stressed out, please don’t lash that stress out on us. I know it may be a challenge, but passing down stress doesn’t make things better. Lastly, with the lessons you give us, you should also follow them too to establish fairness. As much as us kids don’t admit, we really don’t want any bad blood in between us because it ruins our family bond and creates an unhealthy environment for us. Emotional, physical, all aspects. 

Regardless, at the end of the day, you are still our parents and we have a deep appreciation for that. 

In short, hear us out.

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RELATED: Why Do Filipino Parents Never Apologize To Their Children?

What’s your take on talking back culture in the country? Feel free to express your opinions.


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