Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Everyone is doing it!


I am sure you must have experienced this age old cliché generously thrown our way at some point in time (mostly to ‘save our souls’ not an SOS situation at all), “Arre, everyone is doing it!” Sounds familiar to you? It has to.

It’s in the air and everywhere we can ‘hear’ around. It’s fairly normal to use it whenever caught doing something ‘out of the way’. Like if you have the good fortune of catching the person who jumps the signal (traffic my dear friend - education or no education; rich or poor; young or old; gender no bar – no traffic sense leave alone other ‘civic’ senses), ask him/her why he/she did so. Answer is “see around, everyone is doing it”. You don’t have to try hard as you will find so many using this everyday for myriad reasons, usually petty ones.

Now transfer this to our situation as parents specially whose ‘young adult/s’ are in the delicate “dabba” age (term coined by my mother, when we were growing up, for people between 12 to 17 yrs of age who are either none or hardly any substance inside, but capable of making lots of noise; after all teen – tin – is a kind of dabba only - no offence meant sweethearts).

The everyday issues; debates; behaviors; acts of these “dabba-agers” are justified by this very logic - “everyone is doing it”. It’s perfectly normal and this immaturity is understandable from these young adults. They are still growing up, well provided for and only see what they want to see - world is restricted to school, school mates, TV channels etc.     

My question is how far is it reasonable for parents to fall back on the same excuse? Are we shying away from our responsibilities as parent and trying to save our skin and effort in engaging them when we see them doing things inappropriate for their age but still agreeing because “everyone else is doing it”? I don’t know. 

I experience this all the time. Being parent is a tight rope walking, very demanding, very delicate. Day in, day out the source of our dilemma is constant but the effects innumerable and unpredictable. Dealing with children is in no way a stress-free event but then who said parenting is easy. 

Can you blame the children for something they learn from us? Do we really make them realize that life requires mental and physical strength? I don't say we need to expose them to extreme brutalities. However, most of the time we are busy shielding them from the difficult but true facts of life. They should not grow up seeing the world with rose tinted glasses. Life is a playground and we need to give our children the proper equipment/s to play with.

When they are of impressionable age and can be molded, we put them in front of TV for few hours of relief. After some years they grow up and get addicted. Then begins our screaming sessions and feeling of helplessness. Come to think of it, who started it all? We take our kids to various fast food outlets, feed them junk as per our convenience, have birthday parties in these outlets and then when they are not taking green vegetables or healthy food, we crib and try force feeding them. Come to think of it, who started it all? When the child is not able to take failures or cope up with denials in their adult life, as we have always showed them the "well protected, hunky dory kind of lifestyle", who is to be blamed? Come to think of it, who started it all? 

Most parents' reply for why they do what they do would be "what's wrong, everyone else is doing it”. 

Are we forgetting that we are the rule makers for our family and we don’t have to follow what others are doing. Every family has its own principles and similarly every child unique. We understand our kids the best. So why should collective immaturity of many  other parent influence my child's upbringing? 

Another thing, what kind of example are we setting in front of our children when we indulge in all those lifestyle activities which we don't want them to indulge in? When we do ‘A’ thing we just can’t expect our children to appreciate the worthiness of ‘B’ thing.  Its just so wrong. Kids will learn what they see, not what they get preached on. "Child is the father of man", they are much more smarter than us. Please remember. No gains without pains pal. You have to invest time and energy.     

My daughter has turned 12 and I have started getting the same response on lot many matters where I take a stand. The conflict within me is always whether I should say a firm “no” for things I don’t approve of as a parent or should I say “yes” to all juvenile demands and get down to being a cool mom, flow with things. Not an easy choice. 

On one hand is the opportunity of being popular with my child and be termed as “the bestest mom”. On the other hand is the possibility of rubbing my child the wrong way on many issues and thus earning the tag of “you are the worst mom in the world or you are always saying no.” Not an easy choice, I know. Reactions to our yes or no can take the children in any direction. Have a reason to back your yes or no. That’s parenting. Before kids are born we have our own notions on parenting and after they are born, we have just “children”. The beginning of yet another theory!

You know what I would rather want my child to respect me as an open, firm and sensible mother than a cool and gullible mother. Being friends and understanding my child has got nothing to do with me being firm. Children will talk to you when they know you will listen. We can be their greatest support system and most objective sounding boards if we prove ourselves worthy of this perception - "my parents will always stand by me". That is the confidence which needs to be built in the child.   

We can’t expect to get “mangoes” when we are seeding and growing “bananas”. It’s a pretty harsh statement but definitely food for thought as parents. Choice is always ours to make. We are shaped more by our upbringing than by our birth. I guess, Watson would be happy and Freud not. My choice, anyways. I am a parent and I intend to remain as one for my child.

However the question remains whether we as parents are prepared to take this fine balancing responsibility or not? Perhaps that is why Yashoda is remembered more than Devaki as Krishna’s mother. Bringing up is always tougher because every day we are forced to make choices between easy way and the best possible way. There are no theories to fall back on. We evolve as we go along parenting.

Think about it.

A Parent