Thais Divided Over Banning Mother’s Day School Festivities

The now-deleted photo originally posted by Facebook user Nana Copy on Friday showing a boy being consoled by his friend and teacher during Mother’s Day event at an unidentified school. Photo: Nana Copy / Facebook
The now-deleted photo originally posted by Facebook user Nana Copy on Friday showing a boy being consoled by his friend and teacher during Mother’s Day event at an unidentified school. Photo: Nana Copy / Facebook

Some Thai netizens are calling for the abolition of Mother’s Day events in schools, arguing that they can be harmful for students without mothers or whose mothers can’t be present.

The debate over Mother’s Day school events, held nationwide in the lead up to Mother’s Day on August 12, was ignited by photos of crying students waiting for their mothers that went viral on Friday.

Facebook user Artoo Jak posted a tear-jerking video on Facebook of a boy crying and clinging to a school fence while waiting for his mother to show up. The same day, Facebook user Nana Copy posted a now-deleted photo of a boy crying beside a vacant chair, surrounded by other students and their mothers.

“It’s fine that your mother couldn’t be here. I’m sure that she loves you, don’t cry,” the accompanying caption read.

More than 9,655 people have now signed a Change.org petition calling on the Ministry of Education to cancel Mother’s Day events in schools nationwide. The petition suggests instead that schools adopt activities in which everyone can participate regardless of their family situation, such as honoring Queen Mother Sirikit or events that do not rely on parents’ attendance.

When the Facebook page “Sorry For My Friend’s Behavior” reshared Nana Copy’s post, netizens in the thread called for the event to be cancelled.

“[The school] should come up with activities that are joyful and creative. I feel sorry for the kid. Not everyone lives in a full family,” user Nam Thanyaluck commented.

Some celebrities, such as actress Pimpaka “Moo” Siangsomboon, the mother of actor Naphat “Nine” Siangsomboon, echoed the concerns of netizens. Pimpaka took to her Facebook on Friday to share her experience of allowing her fatherless son to skip school on Mother’s Day to prevent further grief.

“If you want your children to show their respect, just do it privately at home,” Pimpaka’s post read. “Those who want to put an end to these events should do it now, otherwise they will continue to provoke trauma for those who have lost their parents.”

But the Ministry of Education has made it clear that Mother’s Day events will continue to be held as part of “good tradition.”

“It is our tradition to honour our parents,” education minister Kalaya Sophonpanich said during a press conference on July 30. “It is a good tradition, but the new generation might not understand the importance. The events should be held as usual, whether parents can attend or not.”

Similarly, not all netizens have called for a complete end to Mother’s Day festivities at school.

“The activities aren’t bad at all, but it depends on how the organizers manage them to protect children’s feelings,” user Bas Sirawit commented.

Mother’s Day events celebrate both the birthday of Queen Mother Sirikit and the role of mothers in society through a wide range of activities, some of which can be controversial such as mass prostration of students at their mother’s feet. Students may be required to sing Royal Anthems, perform shows or compete in poetry contests.

Previously, Mother’s Day was celebrated every April 15. But in 1976, the date of the holiday was changed to Queen Mother Sirikit’s birthday on August 12.