And here we are…. with the most common base for a debate – western vs Indian. Be it food, be it culture, be it fashion or lifestyle, India has been aping the west and picking up points from their character. But when it comes to parenting, are we doing that? or more so, should we be doing that?
An old article in “Youth ki Aawaz” had two journalists battle this out and while one was of the opinion that we Indians have a much richer culture and way of upbringing that we certainly shouldn’t be looking towards the west for ideas; the other was able to see a lot of advantages with the western way of parenting. Years later, and we are still here having the same debate because it is hard to conclude what’s OK or what’s not. The ambiguity is justifiable.
Let’s park the terms “right” or “wrong” aside. Firstly because each culture learns from its surroundings and secondly, collectively, one can say, parents’ are well intended unquestionably. However it is the way that could be reflected upon. It’s good to know, be aware of what is helpful and what is unhelpful. What actions could lead to your child being happy, secure and independent and what could make him/her stubborn, defensive and angry.
The biggest advantage we Indians still have on our side is the existence of bigger families. It helps instill a sense of affection and responsibility towards others. Children grow up looking at more than just their parents and learn to be with different kinds of people and adjust to different kinds of behaviours. They learn different values from older generations that help build character and learn to be kind and compassionate. It’s good for kids to grow up knowing that there are different kinds of people and living with them could cause conflicts (which either eventually get resolved or people learn to cope with them as is varies). The unconditional love of grand parents is the most valuable gift they could get. While the trend today is to live as nuclear families, Indians still visit and meet their extended family quite often as compared to the west.
On the contrary, when it comes to letting kids be on their own and giving them the choice of things, the west are a few steps ahead of us. It’s often seen in India, that even children above the age of 10, and sometimes even 18, are being given instructions for little things or decisions are being made on their behalf. Barring few parents who really support their children’s choices and encourage them to be more independent, most parents want to operate the remote control, even when it comes to a life-changing and extremely personal decisions like career or marriage. Now this is where we could pick from the west where they believe in letting even a 5 year old child make decisions about day-to-day things; even if it’s just picking their daily outfit, their leisure activity or what they want to eat.
However, we do see that few of the families have become progressive and are treating kids as “individuals’ rather than children. This transition could result in a stronger, wiser and more independent generation. While both the journalists have expressed their opinions in the article, we would like to believe that parenting must be able to enable a child to make his life decisions and also be ready to face subsequent consequences. The richness of our culture added to that could lead to kids being grounded as well as free. It is about maintaining a reasonable balance.
Last but not the least, let’s not forget these building years of the individual are extremely important as things learnt at this stage help shape a person’s mind and character.
This blog is based on the following article –