I think the previous generation had it easier. Only moms and mother-in-laws to interfere. Today, the internet is poking its nose with a farrago (been wanting to use this word since Tharoor did. Have I used it right?) of opinions.
This ranges from interference in minor things ..
Give your kid healthy juice. No, don’t. Just give fruits. Don’t squeeze them.
to the overall parenting philosophy..
Don’t be too strict, you’re being a tiger mom. Don’t mollycoddle either, they’ll grow up to be pests.
As a result, we’ve more information and less clarity.
Over years though, I’ve realised that MY strategy is the best! He he! I know it does sound arrogant, but hear me out.
Each parent is so different and so is each child. And in almost 90% of the scenarios, it’s hard to generalise. It’s wrong to generalise. I am my own person with experiences, biases, choices…and I want to transfer some of that influence on the child (yeah, biases, too! It is ridiculous to pretend that we don’t). It is only natural.
However, today I want to talk about the other 10% scenarios which should be common to most parents and children. Just like following the law of the universe or a country. If you’ve to drive on the left, you’ve got to. (I know this is debatable given our road safety consciousness, but that’s for another day)
These are the rules of parenting and the rules of humanity — something as fundamental as don’t kill, don’t steal, respect boundaries, no violence, etc.
The recent #MeToo campaign has been shocking to say the least. As a woman, it is not too surprising. Even yesterday, I had an incident on the road where a guy walking on the platform was coming right at me..and I had to jump off to miss him. We’re used to this nonsense that it does not surprise us. We’ve always been told to adjust a “little bit” …because if we started to complain we’ll probably never get any work done. But the sheer scale of the problem has shocked me. So many people that includes celebrities to close friends. “Do not abuse women” should surely be a fundamental rule that parents should teach their children.
It has made me think about how to raise a boy.
It seems like such a simple thing to teach that there should be no teaching required at all. I know that this does not happen by me having a “talk” one day. It has to be a part of life. It has to be in the way we, as a family, react and respond to situations, in the way a father treats a mother, in the way the family respects the woman of the house. It’s not about treating her with special preference or glorifying her, but treating like just any other human – meeting her eye-to-eye. Not “letting her” make her decisions, but internalising the fact that who else will make her decisions if not herself. Especially financial decisions. Respecting her for what she stands for, her intellect.
It has to be in the way we resist creating prejudices about what a boy or a girl can or cannot do. It doesn’t stop with just making the girl wear blue and the boy pink. It has to be at a much better magnitude, by enabling both our boys and girls to dream infinitely. Children can actually be quite mean and inherit prejudices easily, and it’s common to hear boys say stuff like “that’s a girl thing” which usually points to something soft or weak. As a parent, I feel the urge to put an end to that right at the moment when I hear it. It’s just non-negotiable to say that…even as a joke or a casual statement.
Fortunately, I have met so many men in my life who’re sensible, compassionate and hardcore feminists even though they sometimes don’t realise they are labelled that way. So, my hope is not lost. However, I believe that sexual abuse is like a terror attack. We shouldn’t stop working on putting an end to it until the count is zero.
And it can only stop when it starts at the fundamental institution – the family … the parent.