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It is a great thing that today’s parents are mindful of their own needs are individuals, but we also need to be mindful of our responsibility to our kids.
”How are we raising our kids?” Last Saturday, when I went to a pub to catch up with an old friend, this question pricked my mind. I know, a pub is not a right place to think about parenting. But, I did, and I will tell you why.
The place was a huge 4 storey building, with different seating spaces on each floor. We went to the fourth one. The entire place was only sparingly occupied. Most of the people were college students; the laughter, the happy shrieks, and the argument on whose turn it is to try the hookah next, were unmistakably very ‘college-goers’ type.
As we settled in, I realized that we were meeting after a long a time and that we had a lot to catch up on. “It’s going to be a happy evening”, I thought, as my friend started scanning the menu.
As the evening rolled in, a pair of young parents entered the pub. They had 3 children, most probably of ages 9, 6 and 2. The father was carrying a cake and others were trotting behind him, while he was trying to find a suitable table to sit. Soon after, a huge group, maybe their extended family, joined them. There were two other kids in that group. While my friend was updating about his life, I was thinking to myself, “Who brings such young kids to a place like this?”. By the time our food came, more young parents came in with their kids.
I frequently visit pubs on the weekends, mostly in Connaught Place or the popular Hauz Khas Village, but I haven’t come across any where small kids are allowed. At the entrance of most pubs, the guards ask for an ID to see if you’re above 25 (legal drinking age in Delhi), before they let you enter. This place was clearly violating every rule there is by letting such small kids in.
The entire place was filled with cigarette smoke and smoke from the hookah, which is not safe for adults, let alone children. The music was so loud that my friend and I had to shout to each other to simply communicate. And the lights! The lights were dancing and changing every second, the kind that makes one dizzy and more drunk. Except for these disco lights, entire place was dark; one could only see other people’s silhouettes. On almost every table, there was alcohol. On the table just next to ours was a couple with their daughter of 3 or 4, who took the stirring stick out of her father’s whiskey glass and put it in her mouth. The father noticed that after a while and put it away, while the mother was busy with her phone.
Are we so lost that we no longer could see what’s right and what’s wrong for our own kids?
I looked around the place in dismay, and started to feel uncomfortable. I completely lost my appetite, and got to thinking where the world had come to. Instead of an elaborate dinner, I excused myself and left earlier than I had planned. Instead of taking an auto from the metro station, I decided to walk home that night. Trying to make peace with the unsettling experience I had.
I tried finding a rational validation of taking one’s kids to a place like that, and keeping them there past their respectable bed time. I understand that everyone needs a break, even young parents. Everyone has the right to unwind after a hectic week of balancing personal and professional life. But, once you have kids, it’s not only your life anymore; they become an integral part of it too. I appreciate the fact that today’s young parents know how to take a break from hectic lifestyle, unlike the parents of the 80’s and 90’s. But, such a lifestyle shouldn’t come at the cost of their kid’s well being.
I remember, how my parents used to tuck us into bed before heading to a party. How they used to coax our grandparents to look after us when they had a late night party to attend. Only during festivals were we allowed to dance to loud music, but only till our bed time. It was a house rule to turn off the television or the music player after 9pm, which we all adhered to. Only on new year’s eve, we were allowed to roam around the house past midnight. From an early age, me my siblings and I were trained to be on our own, when our parents were not home.
There are many ways to not involve kids in grown ups’ recreational activities. One can keep a 24*7 house help. One can call for a babysitter to look after the kids in such special circumstances. And if the kids are big enough, they can be taught to be on their own when the parents are not at home. And if one is to throw a party, there are many family friendly places to go to.
For any parents, bonding with their kids is important, and that could be done over a session of board games, by doing outdoor activities in the park, by telling them bed time stories, or watching a movie together etc. Exposing such young kids to club culture, in the name of spending time together, is not acceptable.
The role of parenting is very underestimated in our society, it’s considered as something that should come naturally to both the parents (read mother), as soon as the baby is born. But, parenting is not only about loving, pampering, and taking care of the baby.
It’s more than feeding, cleaning, putting the baby to sleep, and changing diapers. It’s more than giving them just financial security and a roof over their head. It is about giving them an ideal environment for their overall development.
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
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A woman who believes in lifting up other women. Runs on coffee, poetry, long walks,
This is such a common sight here in Noida. I also wonder why pubs don’t enforce an entry rule based on age. But, I guess, that will become a cause for ever more brouhaha.
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