16 February, 2007

Parenting ......

Some days back, one evening, Appu and me were getting dinner ready. She quite likes to mosey around in the kitchen asking me whether she could help. She had already taken the placemat to put on the table while I was busy heating up the dinner.

Having put the placemat on the table, she was standing by the doorway of the kitchen with quite a serious look on her face.

And then she says “Mom I have to tell you something.” “ABC (she used her friend’s name but I’m going to refer to her friend as ABC) is using the “F” word.

What’s a “F” word, Appu ? I asked her with a pounding heart.

“Mom !!!!!” – that "mom" quite bordered on exasperation.

“Mom – she actually spelt it out – she said F***”

She went on to say "See, whenever anyone upsets ABC or talks back to ABC, ABC walks away. She then gets hold of another girl - sometimes it is me - and takes us aside and then ABC says that the girl who upset her is such a F***"

This time around, my jaw did drop and I’m sure, observant as she is, she must have noticed all of my reactions to that statement, the outwardly physical ones atleast.

We then did sit and talk about how people end up using bad language and expletives and how it was just not the way to go. I also made it a point to tell her that aping or using bad language or obscene language is definitely not hep or chic. Quite the contrary.

She then went about her business, looking quite glad that she had brought that out into the open.

I, on the other hand, could just not get the whole thing out of my mind.

I know for a fact that “F” words are not uncommon at all but somehow coming from a 7-8 year old seems to give it a whole different connotation. It somehow seems even more obscene. While we were in Bombay recently, I saw 3-4 boys playing cricket and a Hindi expletive starting with “C” was being thrown around like a shuttlecock in a badminton game. Again, these boys could not have been over 10 years of age.

In the earlier days, a lot of emphasis was placed on moral values, feelings of respect towards sentiments and respect for age. All of this and a lot many more are being regarded as “Jurassic” by many of the up and coming generation of youngsters.

Another issue that has had a huge visual impact for quite sometime now is the increasing number of “young” smokers. And by young, I mean school going kids. It is very very commonplace to find schoolchildren smoking in HK even though the retail stores are not supposed to be selling cigarettes to kids below 18 years of age. The number of young children smoking are way too many to be discounted as “just a few kids rebelling”. And I saw the same thing in Bombay this time around. Catch a few snippets of conversation and one realises that most of these kids smoke so that it enhances their image and girls too admit that smoking and swearing does make boys seem more macho to them.

Channels of information are more open than ever to kids now. The Internet, magazines, books, tapes, video parlors and what have you. While all of this can be used to enhance knowledge and widen the scope and vista of their imagination in productive ways, it can also very well work the other way around.

And this is the world in which our children are going to grow up…..

During our growing up days, I do remember troubles which took the form of identity crisis, popularity crisis. For that matter, as teens, even something as simple as pimples or acne or dandruff constituted a crisis. But this seems to absolutely pale in the light of what we see today.

Parents have to be ever more vigilant but at the same time have to be willing to give their kids extra room and space to let them grow into what they are.

Parents have to be careful but again not too careful as to smother the kids.

Parents have to take a reality check while at the same time holding on to the dreams and aspirations of a better world for their children to live, grow and flourish in.

Parents have to give in many a times, while at the same time ensure that children do not cross the maximum outsides of the set boundary.

Parents have the unquestionable task of teaching their children the importance of ethics, morals and principles which they will need to draw strength from as they face obstacles in life.

This, more so, in a world that is sure to place our children on crossroads time and again, in a world that is sure to test them in innumerable ways, in a world where choices have to be made quickly, in a world where decisions need to be taken on a split second basis , in a world wherein they have to think on their feet so as not to get left out of the race.

Like Oscar Wilde once said

Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.

And the onus of trying to make this ideal a reality rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents.

2 voice(s) said so:

Sumanth said...

There is nothing suprising about it.

Soon children also want to become libertarians and would like to have choice just the way adults claim, "I know what is right and what is wrong."

The Mad Momma said...

wow.. i dont quite know what to say... I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself saying its a parent's responsibility... how far can you guard your child when you know they are picking up stuff from school? all the best with handling this...