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The Responsibility of Having a Child

It’s been around 9 months since I started my new life in Raja Ampat. Raja Ampat has a lot to offer, and there are many beautiful things you can witness right in front of our school that you normally only see in underwater documentaries. While other schools have a backyard with a beautiful garden, this school only needs to provide a jetty facing the ocean and Voilà! There’s a spectacular bio-diversity that you hardly see in any other place.

Unfortunately, as with coins, there are always two sides of things and not everything is wonderful and beautiful. Despite Raja Ampat’s beauty, I also encounter many discomforting issues and situations I’m unable to do anything about it.

But what discomforts me the most is neither to do with nature nor with education, and not the lack of medical services or literacy proficiency. It’s behavior of some of the children towards other children, such as beating other children with sticks and easily do violent things towards each other. It’s a big issue but I feel the need to cautiously examine it.

While the question still lingers on my head, I found both a clue and similarity in what the parents do to their children. They often beat their children violently both physically and mentally by threatening them whenever they don’t meet their expectations. Although it’s not the only factors, I believe they are the most important ones in shaping the aggression and anger behavior in many children I see.

From my personal point of view, beating children violently is a dangerous move by parents. Not only does it directly tell that it’s okay to beat others, especially those who are weaker, but I assume this behavior also contribute to some children not being able to obey simple warning. Furthermore, it creates a vicious circle of beating and hitting for the next generations. In a society where adults and their surroundings are the only role-models they have, it’s very dangerous behavior and needed to be remembered.

What’s worse, most of them think that having a lot of children is good and important to continue their legacy. They think of it as part of their culture, which makes it an act of racism to tell them that it’s not a very good thing to beat their children. Consequently, this circle is passed on to many children (who eventually will become parents of many children too) and inevitably, the percentage of parents who beat their children will rise in the future and become harder to manage.

I personally think that having biological child is the main cause of over population and will lead to many global issues, so I prefer not to have any. I’m not against people who have one. But, it feels extremely disturbing to me to see a person with more than 7 children treat their children (future parents) in an alarming behavior. Even though the parents do know how to be good parents, they do not have the time to educate their children, because they are always busy with another new born, year after year.

Intrigued by this social phenomenon, I started to ask questions to my surroundings, especially the adults and parents with this kind of behavior who argue that their children lack of discipline, therefore they feel the need to discipline them physically and mentally. I think they fail to see that their own behavior is the cause of everything in the first place, but I can’t find a way to tell them in a nice way.

I started to see the responsibility of having a child, just like have enough time to properly educate them with good manners and teach them to have universal values that will not bring harm to others. Have time to examine how they implement their values, and of course be able to provide them with a good education. Although, I also realized it’s not as simple as it sounds, and every parents have their own condition and limitation.

If someone asks me now, ‘Is it hard to raise a child?’ it is difficult for me to answer. I’m sure it’s also not a question to be answered light-heartedly. Even someone with many children will not be able to answer it easily. An African proverb says that it takes a village to raise a child. This proverb may have several meanings about raising children, but the obvious meaning is that it is hard to raise even one child.

I may not know how to raise a newborn, but I wouldn’t disagree with the proverb since I experienced myself how hard it is to educate children.

Even though children who study in this foundation are having similar issue just like most kids in these villages, we can intervene when it happen inside our area. As for the area outside the Foundation, some of us would try to remind the children or the parents when it happens. But sadly, most are happening inside their house, and sometimes we could only hear it afterwards from their children.

The foundation realized how important this issue is and tries to re-educate people through adult class, and also our newest activity at Tuesday night. We held a discussion night about having many children and the consequences of that. We also invited some of the villagers and parents. From a thorough discussion that went on for almost 2 hours, we heard that the Senior High School children now have more awareness about the responsibilities of having a child and think about it thoroughly before having many children. As for the hitting and beating, perhaps we will slowly re-educate them and try to remind them to treat others just as they want to be treated themselves.


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