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27 October 2012

Strictness Dilemma....

How strict a parent should be? When should a parent start to move away from active involvement in the child's day to day activities, from being the 'strict' parent, to guidance and oversight?

We in India lay a lot of emphasis on sons taking care of their old parents. The logic is that the parents took care of them when they were weak and needed support, hence the children should reciprocate when they grow older. Our mythology and history is littered with stories of the devoted son and his wife who take care of old and infirm parents. Right from our childhood, we are exposed to a series of such stories.

That is why when I read cases of sons ignoring their old and helpless parents, I feel very unhappy and sad. I feel as if my deeply held beliefs are violated.

Surprisingly for me, reasonably intelligent and knowledgeable as I am, I, till now, never thought that there could be another reasonable (I may not agree with it though) explanation to sons ignoring their old parents.

In simple words, this can be explained as 'What goes around comes around'.

You know, while the children are young and dependent, the parents need to behave with affection and respect to their children. Only if you give respect, you get respect, so goes the saying. If you analyse the childhood of the sons who abuse / ignore their parents, you may find that they were physically assaulted or worse, they were emotionally wounded or psychologically abused.

And when these kids grow up, the shoe is on the other foot.

I was reminded of this when I.....

Well, you decide for yourself.

A friend of mine had recently gone to his son's school to attend a PTA meeting. A few of the parents were sitting around chatting with the PE (Physical Education) instructor.

"Nowadays parents are not strict with their children", expounded the knowledgeable PEI, "they given in very easily to the demands from the children. When were growing up (oh, there you go again), our parents used to be very strict. It was not like what is happening these days".

Generic comment. Meaningless platitude.

All the parents sat there with silly smiles on their faces. Most them had been through this lots. They have been told by irrelevant people out there on how to bring up THEIR children. Many of them have had many intellectual debates with their children and have been routed in most of them. Most of their kids might be teaching their parents about the new computers and languages. 

One would have thought that the best response to such a comment is just to ignore it. Not this lady. She had to blow her trumpet.

She was attending the session with her daughter who was studying in the school. 

"I don't allow my children to get out off the line. I am a very strict parent. I ensure that my children are scared of me. For example, now my son is in Engineering College. When he was in class 12, he once complained to me about the pressure that I was putting on him to study. He threatened that he can't take this pressure and that he will 'Commit Suicide'. You know what I did? I took him to the terrace of our 19th floor apartment and told him that I will watch while he jumps off the terrace. I told him to 'Jump off if he had the guts'. He came back, shamefaced and scared. After that incident, he hasn't had the guts to raise his voice against me." She said triumphantly.

None of those sitting there said anything. Her unfortunate daughter sat there, all shamed, covering her face.

This blind woman could not see what she was doing to her children. She couldn't see that she was 'competing' against them. And she was under this ridiculous impression that she was 'Winning' the competition. 

Her son may never overcome the kind of insult that he was subjected to when he was almost an adult. This lady will become old and infirm someday and I don't think that any of her children will be there to support her. 

Why did not any other parent point this out to her? Would I have sat there silently when this lady was touting this utter nonsense?? I don't think that I would have sat there silently. I would have pointed out to this lady that she was 'Competing' against her kids. I would have told her that sooner or later she is going to be in need of support and she need to strengthen her children rather than weaken them. I would probably have asked her to look at her daughter who was so ashamed of her mother.

I would have told her that no matter who wins the 'competition' between Parents and Children, the family would end up losing. 

PS: I hope that her children overcome this 'Psychological Trauma' and turn out fulfilling their potential.

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