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How do you raise a child that is not so afraid of the big, bad world? Start at home, and start talking – says this thoughtful post.
Recent events have got me thinking about how we – as educated, concerned individuals and parents – can save our future generations from the perverts of the society. Where on one side, after every such news item in the media, we have protest marches and the anger of people pouring in, which indeed is a good positive sign that shows that we care as a society; what is needed is something long-term which should change the dynamics of the society.
The first step that seems logical is basic Sex Education for the kids, but then the question is how early? With even 6 year olds not safe, do we really want to whisk away the innocence of our children in an effort to keep them safe? I have had comments from the older generation claiming that such things did not happen when they were kids, but I refuse to believe them. I am sure they did, only they were hushed or the victims never spoke about it and grew up to be disturbed adults.
One thing that I realized would be a huge step in increasing the bonding with the children and thereby making sure that no child suffers in silence, is to change the basic family dynamics.
For instance, the first question to answer is – Do we really want a DDLJ type babuji? I think Amrish Puri in that movie was a perfect example of what we don’t want our fathers to be.
What if, in that movie, SRK was a stalker who had taken advantage of Simran during her Europe trip? How would her father have responded? Just the thought of her falling in love with someone made him forcefully marry her off to some stranger! Simran never had any meaningful talks with her father; every conversation with her father was nothing short of pleading and begging. Where would such a scared child learn to share her feelings, her fears? And we consider that movie to be a classic!
Where would such a scared child learn to share her feelings, her fears?
I have grown up in a very liberal family, where I could go and discuss anything with my father, without being afraid. And that has helped me grow up to be an independent woman, unafraid to speak my mind. What we need today is a set of parents who are more like friends to the kids. The respect that kids should have for their parents should come from love and mutual understanding, not fear. It has to be a two-way street, wherein parents set examples for kids.
If a boy grows up watching his father dictate his mother and not respect her, that’s what he will learn. Such a child will never respect women, he will treat them like commodities, and the cycle will continue with him treating his wife the same way. The same goes for the girl child. If she grows up fearing her father, she will never learn to see herself as an individual. And unfortunately, if such a girl is wronged upon, she will continue to suffer in silence than share it with her family, in the fear of being blamed for it by her own family.
On the other hand, picture a scenario where there is open communication between all members of the family. The children know by example that they can share everything with their parents. That the parents are always there to protect them, and there is no need to be afraid of them.
I have heard of instances where the father has fallen sick, even died with shock, after his daughter eloped. But keeping the male ego aside, did such fathers think about what made their daughters elope? why could they not discuss their lives with them? worse still, why did a relative stranger become more trustworthy than their own fathers? Surely, it was the way the daughters were brought up, fearing their fathers.
I remember verbatim, the “talk” I received from my father (A man who bought me my first Rahul Dravid poster when I was 14) when I entered my teen-age, and I plan to repeat it to my kids, because I believe it was a talk that strengthened my bonding with my father and my trust in him.
What my father said was- “I know you are at an age now where many things will attract you, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s a part of growing up. I promise you one thing today, you will get married to a person you choose, but right now your first priority should be education. Once you finish your education, I will fulfill my promise. I know I have raised a daughter who understands her responsibilities and I am sure I will never be disappointed”
His trust in me made me trust him more and he was the first person to know when I fell in love, and true to his promise, he supported me.
I think it’s time every parent rethinks their relationship with their kids, right from childhood. And mothers have a contribution too, they should also stop creating a monster figure out of the fathers. Many a times, I have heard mothers scare their children with, “Should I tell your Dad?” There are better ways of disciplining the child without creating fear in their minds.
Unfortunately, as things stand, we may not be able to avoid the inevitable, but at least with better family dynamics, we can ensure that no child suffers in silence and in the long run, we can raise better sons and safer daughters.
Author, Blogger, Mother, Daughter, Wife & Mechanical Engineer
We raised our girls that it was a mans world and they had to fight to be equals.
I think they are doing pretty good.
Bravo, Dixy. Loved this post. ‘Babuji’ in that movie annoyed me no end. And why should adults need to elope at all? It’s only because we have parents who don’t treat their children as adults with autonomy.
Thanks Aparna I really feel for the kids who marry against their own wishes just to please their parents, even boys
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