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Indians are a strange lot. We think asking a 5 year old, “Do you have a girlfriend?” is cute, but hit the roof if our grown up sons have bona fide girlfriends!
There are not many adults who can strike an interesting conversation with a child, and for those who do or at least think they can, there is a certain sequence that majority of them follow while talking to a child. And do not be fooled by the innocuous nature of the initial set of few questions. It’s just a build up to the ultimate hot favorite question that every adult feels he must ask a 5 year old.
As I have been observing lately, I shall give you a small demo of the kind of conversations my son has been having recently with people which include, guests who visit home to random people who spoke to him in the train.
Adult-How old are you?
Child – 5 years.
Adult-Which school do you study in?
Child- Army School.
Adult-What’s your favorite color?
Adult-What’s your best friend’s name?
Adult-So do you have a girlfriend?
Adult-Arrey koi toh hogi?
Child- (looks confused)
To make it sound a little more appropriate the adult offers – “A friend who is a girl?”
Child – Oh Ok. Yeah her name is Arya.
Adult- Nods appreciatively (yeh ladka toh sahi track pe jaa raha hai kind of look)
Adult-Do you like her?
Child- looks confused again and then mumbles, “yes I like playing with her”.
A round of coy giggles are exchanged among the group of adults and they give the child their stamp of approval and announce, “Sahi hai!”
These same people, when they see your son hanging out with a girl, feel they are duty bound to come and inform you about your child’s whereabouts. And if by any chance your child decides to marry the girl of his choice, and she belongs to a different caste or religion, the same set of people will cluck their tongues in disapproval and the look changes to ladka toh haath se gaya, his life is now effectively ruined.
We Indians are sure a laughable lot. While we get a big kick out of playing matchmaking with kids as young as 3-4 years, we find it hard to digest when they decide to find life partners of their own. There are also several fathers who indulge in conversations with their young sons, somewhere along the lines of is Katrina Kaif or Aishwarya Rai better. This scenario is more common with the male child and parents take great pride in portraying their tiny tots as Casanovas.
As parents we are making the grave mistake of objectifying women by indulging in such frivolous conversations with our young ones. We sow the seeds of such skewed perceptions of women, and then wonder why so many rapes happen in our country and why every woman in this country has been a victim of eve teasing at some point or the other in their lives.
As new generation parents, under the garb of being pseudo liberals we keep making the same blunders again and again. Let your kids be kids and don’t try to make them mini adults. It’s time to get rid of the questions, “Do you have a girlfriend?” and “How many girlfriends do you have?”
Why this gender specification? Isn’t a collective term of how many friends you have good enough? Let them laugh, play and have fun rather than thinking about things that wouldn’t have even crossed their minds if we adults hadn’t pointed it out to them.
There will be a time, when your child hits puberty and his soaring hormones will have him thinking about the opposite sex. Creating a healthy image of the opposite sex becomes imperative at that stage and that’s when your parenting skills are put to test. Till then the best you can do is to keep your soaring hormones in check!
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay