‘Motherly love’ is often misguided

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‘Motherly love’ is often misguided


Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, said on television recently that parents must monitor their children’s online activities and take moral responsibility for their children’s actions. What he said was rational, yet it still sounded unfamiliar, at least to me. Last week, 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick killed herself after she was bullied repeatedly via text messages and social media.

Koreans have often heard of similar cases of bullying and student suicides. However, it seems that the United States handles it quite differently. Arrests have been made of the girls who are suspected of bullying Rebecca. Of course, similar actions are taken in Korea, too.

But the American media strongly stressed the responsibility of the parents. The police have also pledged to hold the parents of the suspects criminally liable for “willful blindness or gross negligence” of the cyberbullying. In fact, the mother of one of the suspects has been arrested on the suspicion of child abuse unrelated to the case.

Americans seem to agree that parents should be held responsible for the misbehavior of their children. The approach is clearly different from Korea’s reaction to such cases: They usually ask the society and social systems to be accountable for school violence.

A child psychologist who offers school violence-related consultation in Seoul said, “Some parents justify evilness in the name of parents. When their own children are the offenders, they are insensitive to their faults and blame the victims, even threatening them. When the faults are pointed out, they argue that, ‘Mothers should not be blamed for doing anything for their children.’”

Perhaps the ideology and destructive defense of “motherly love” in our society is ruining our children. Such examples are easy to find. A mother falsified the nationality of her children to send them to international schools in Korea. A mother of a sexual assault suspect defamed the victim. A mother even stormed into a classroom and demanded that a teacher apologize when her child had been involved in school violence. We have all heard of such absurd and destructive outcomes of maternal love.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is often referred to as “Germany’s mother.” Her leadership is compared to motherly love for her spirit of tolerance. Actually, she has embraced the issues of the opposition party regardless of factional interests for the people of Germany and the national interests.

The concept of motherhood should be about pursuing tolerance, peace and stability while controlling selfish desires.

Mothers are not warriors fighting for their children by stepping over the children of others. Mothers are not people who would do anything for their children. Just as the sheriff said, parents are the ones who should have moral responsibility to raise their children right.

The author is an editorial writer

of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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