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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Kids raised badly by 'good' parents

It has long been one of my strongly-held beliefs that Indian parents by and large bring up children very badly, either through neglect and oppression or through pampering, while driving all kinds of stupid ritualism and superstition deep into their minds in the name of hallowed tradition - and that lies at the root of all the 'corruption' in this country that we beat our breasts over. Also, that things have gotten very considerably worse in this regard over the last three decades (during which period I have been a teacher). It is heartening to find that some other people agree with this viewpoint, publicly, such as here (someone has written a supportive letter to the editor in today's edition of the paper, too).

Read the article. Let me see what kind of responses come in: I shall adumbrate my own views thereafter.


Neel said...

Juxtaposition of words gives me a sense of wonder. I stay with my parents and my parents stay with me, appears identical but in Indian context connotes two different meanings. When the adult child stays with his parents, the title of "head of the family" is a dicey choice. The question poses a serious threat to filial fidelity. as for the good parents, it is a silent understatement of quid pro quo. After all, are are human being and if a single celled amoeba can fights for its own good, why not a multicellular organism like us, homo sapiens. Only we have the "good for us" concept extended indefinitely, an infinite sense of selfishness sugar coated in the misnomer called "family".

Shilpi said...

I've been wondering about the article, and the bit that you wrote, Suvro da. Curious rather to see that the writer not only expresses disgust over financial non-freedom amongst children but also of general non-freedom as well. For even living away and making one's bed and earning one's bread - doesn't guarantee absolute independence and freedom to do as one wishes to. The hammer can always be made to hit where it hurts the most, and seemingly without the slightest evil intentions of course...

I don't think there's anything innately horrible about parents and children living in the same space (if they can manage to!) with mutual love, understanding and kindness - yet I can see what the writer's getting at. Personally, I would think that it might actually get rather tiresome for both parties involved - but that is just me.

The most serious flaw with Indian parents is that most of them never inculcate within their children the value of money. It's not as if they don't talk about it or that they don't say that it's one of the most important things - but there is no practical demonstration of the same. And then there are the blatantly contradictory messages - but I wonder whether that is something peculiar to many Indian parents alone or whether that's something that many parents share all across the world.

I'm still curious about the 'corruption' bit Suvro da, so I'll stop writing yards in this comment.
Take care.

Partha Chatterjee said...

I was watching a bollywood movie the other day where the Heroine asks the Hero a very simple question. She asks "What do you do?"
The Hero says, "I am a college student and I spent my Dad's money."
"What do you want to do?",she continued.
"I will continue to spent my Dad's money what else", he says.
This is true for all the "heroes" that I see around me(in my college and my locality). But unlike the hero in the movie, they don't even have a clue about what they want to do with their lives. Some say they will do MBA,some say they will do MS. When asked how are they going to do it, all I get to see is confused faces,hoping that Jesus will come to rescue them.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Hmm... touchy subject; not many would like to comment publicly on it, I guess. Not that I really expected otherwise, but no harm in trying, what?

Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvroda,

Thanks for referring the article. I have always had similar thoughts and yes even I wasted some of my time watching the disgusting movie. You cannot imagine that you never really see Sid, waking up in the entire film. It is a undoubtedly a bad movie.

Anyway, the other day, my wife and I were having ice-cream at a shop and were admiring the young students who were working there. They were efficient, well mannered, smiling and occasionally they were also treating themselves with the smallest of scoop. We were lamenting how nice it would have been had we ever got an opportunity to work in an ice-cream store as youngsters. Well, our society never allowed that. It is incomprehensible that a young student in India would work as either as a newspaper vendor or a waiter or a cleaner. Parents, uncles and broader society would not allow that. In India, every job is “someone else’s job”.

I think this is not just true to India but as I hear this is true for entire Asia. In Thailand for examples, boys don’t play outside their home because their parents feel they would get dark. In Korea, where men as well as women are literally fanatic about cleanliness, the society expects women to do all the cleaning. Similar kinds of issues exist in other Asian cultures too, where people are extremely superstitious too (much more than Indians even).

I do feel though parenting in India saw its worst phase during the years 1970 to 2000 (perhaps) i.e. when my generation were growing up. This is more true for Bengali parents who are anyway extra- protective. I don’t know the exact social reasons though but if I guess then it would be because of may be various student uprisings (and then killings) in Bengal which made many parents scared, generally protectionist job market and bad economy in the country where many people were unemployed etc. I say that because I have seen many of my peers and let me admit in some ways even I don’t know many things which I should have ordinarily learnt. Problem is some of the children who were brought up during 1970 to 2000 are now parents, but I am not sure whether they continue to carry the same tradition or not. We are anyway very good in moving backwards rather than correcting ourselves. What we don’t understand, once the child leaves home and moves to West, he or she finds out that he has turned into a nothing but a “biddebojhai babumoshai” (big philosophical talker but not a doer), who does not know how to tackle the basic issues in day to day life. Sadly, not many of us want to admit that either. We feel, what is the use talking and correcting it.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Yes, Tanmoy, I keep telling my current pupils their parents are now the age of those whom I taught 20-25 years ago, so I can make out where all their idiocy is coming from... and that it makes my flesh creep to think of what sort of parents these creatures are going to become in turn! God grant that I do not have to deal with the next generation of children.

Amit parag said...

I believe that the human brain is like human body-both need food to survive . The body needs tangible foods,while brain need good thoughts and ideas to survive.So if a child is not born observant(or by a twist of fate undergoes a major change of character for the good) he starts feeding itself on the jargon its parents provide.And keeping in mind the mindset of the overwhelming majority of us( a refined set of terms for mob),it is hardly surprising that the characters of future set of parents are similar to that of their parents.
The cycle goes on.
While all the reasons Sir gave for the ruin of dazzling brilliance of a small child are excellent,I think that even if a parent neither neglected nor oppressed or pampered a child , chances are 2:1 that a child will not be any good than the rest of them,my reasons are-
1. The society where he grows up.
2. The age when he learns to differentiate between what to notice or what not to notice(disregarding that there is a possibility that he may never learn).
3. The kind of company he keeps.
4. The presence/absence of a good teacher.

I write this as all the boys around me in the cyber cafe are busy swearing at each other while playing a silly computer game.Of course,future IITians.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

While you are absolutely right in listing all those negative factors, Amit, I shall still insist that every individual young person, as s/he grows up, can make a difference by choosing not to lose him/herself in the herd! There lies our only hope...