Parenting Blues: My Views on Shobha Narayan’s piece in The Mint Lounge

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized
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My favorite columnist, Shobha Narayan, wrote one more thought provoking piece, about new age parents, and their new age kids, and the accompanying challenges of bringing up kids in a society getting increasingly prosperous.

She starts with this para:

“The summer holidays are looming. The children will be home. What are you going to do? Send them to camp? Fly off on a holiday to the Caribbean? Ask them to do chores around the house? Or all of the above?”

Familiar dilemmas for many parents in the new India, I am sure.

Not giving them the best that money can buy, could actually make some parents feel guilty. Also working parents worry about what their kids will be up to, at home, all summer. So the challenge of keeping them busy, is also a motivator.

And then Shobha points out to a different viewpoint, that of Michelle Obama:

“One of the first things Michelle Obama did after entering the White House was tell the staff not to make her children’s beds. She wanted her girls to do chores, just like she did while growing up.”

So clearly, one has a choice.

And yet each generation works hard to try and provide a better lifestyle to their children, than what they themselves had. So if they are earning some good money, and it is the kids’ only childhood, they reconcile, then they should make it as good as they can, for the kids. Now that argument also has merit.

So where does the balance lie?

Again, in Shobha’s words:

“Obama’s quest to keep her daughters “grounded” while in the White House reflects a conflict that most upwardly mobile urban parents face today: how to enjoy the fruits of your labour without turning your children into spoiled brats.”

Shobha also points out when realization dawns:

“The realization usually comes as a wake-up call after a question or a comment. Your teenage son casually asks for another iPod because he lost his barely month-old one during a school excursion. You take your Delhi-bred children to a beloved aunt’s home in Dharwad and your nine-year-old refuses to go to the Indian bathroom at her house. Your seven-year-old asks, right in front of your retired relatives, “Why aren’t we staying at a five-star hotel?” It is usually after events such as these that realization dawns: You are raising your children with a warped sense of the world. Not intentionally, but not wholly without fault either.”

This is indeed a tough one to manage.

You value your middle-class upbringing that kept you grounded. And yet you earn enough to give a lot more to your kids now. And yet you shudder at their warped sense of the world.

Would things change with a stint at a hostel? Going out and living alone at a certain age? Living in slightly rough conditions that typical hostels are all about? Fending for oneself will be a best teacher? What if by then, they have become so delicate that they cannot take it? Is that a risk at all?

Shobha makes some great points and shares interesting points of view.

Suggest you to check out her article.

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