Wednesday, January 19, 2011

and aint no use sit and wonder why babe, it would never do somehow....Bob Dylan

A friend sent me a link which is apparently causing quite an uproar in the blogging world.
Here is it:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html

I dont know why should this cause any uproar except in the minds of the bigoted and the rigid...every society has its fabric. The denizens of a society know what they want... If America is about freedom...free from stress, free economy, free from familial baggages and free of hassles.... India like China is about family, about struggling for fewer resources, about wanting the best, about battling subjugation to deficiencies and about trying hard to follow age old "traditions" even if they stand slightly half baked and bastardised. What is perhaps cruel for Americans is "normal" for Indians and Chinese.

Like everything else there are pros and cons of familial choices as well.

I think families make choices of parenting through their own experiences than through borrowed ones. Very driven families, where the Dads and Mums are achievers socially or financially or intellectually, will herd their kids towards achievement oriented life choices. Conversely, for parents with very little/no exposure to certain aspects like career choices or education or excellence due to ignorance or financial wherewithal , their way of bringing up children would be different.


One must know that no society is completely bereft of negatives. Let us face it, unlike the US, India does not entertain dignity of labour. Neither I nor any of my friends associate socially with a janitor or a security guard of an apartment complex just because we share a common interest in maths or aviation or painting. Such is our way of life that only the smart, only the well spoken and only the “actualised” will be in our circle of friends as per our personal benchmark of good and better.

We are of a society which generally looks up to their elders for advice or wants them to concur decisions. We are of a society which is risk averse and non-believers of fatalism and thank god for that. Look what kick-ass-Ivy league educated- air brushed-risk-takers like Lehman Brothers did. We are of a society where we want our elders to come around through gentle perseverance about our ways and decisions and not break ice 20 years later on an Oprah show. A society that pushes its kids to ace exams like in India, the IT bonanza ofcourse or sports like in modern day China, the Olympics effect ofcourse, at any cost and firmly believes in spoon feeding and no question asked philosphy can be called cruel. The pros are that this same facet, if modified constructively, serves us well in terms of having a social support: parents, siblings and even friends, something which is difficult to come by in the West, who have created a successful system wherein fatalism and even debt does not starve its citizens. If one reads about Andre Agassi, a phenomenal player who needs no introduction, one may realize that parental pressure is a singular force if channelized properly will take you to great heights. Because underlining all the pressure is love.

Unfortunately India or China is not yet there in terms of government sponsored social safety nets. If we don’t work hard, if we don’t ace exams, if we don’t clear interviews and if we don’t keep our jobs, matter of time we slip down Maslow’s pyramid of needs. What choices do such parents have in this part of the globe? Can we afford in India not being overtly competitive be it academics, music or cricket? Can we as a race survive not having a "good" education which is slightly better than literacy, a kind of education which is not a wholesome meal but a piss-poor capsule of necessary vitamins but which gets us jobs and helps paying the bills without any social safety net?

My very limited travel to China made me realise one thing. The Chinese may come across as robotic and un-smiling to general population but they battle a very difficult government and the choices made by their leaders since Mao Zedong’s time render them open to ridicule and ethnic side-lining. Succeeding remains the only mantra to survive whether in sports or education or medicine or music and hard work and discipline remains the only way forward. There is not much latitude for slacking. After all no one remembers Nobel nominees, we just remember the Nobel laureates. Look at the animal kingdom. A tigress relentlessly teaches her cubs to hunt and those lessons are repetitive, banal and at times harsh. Wonder what would happen if a tigress suddenly tells a small cub to 'follow his heart" and do its own bidding !!

But the one thing that I would say with a definite stance is that it is easier to let go... it is easier to shoo away difficult children and turn them out of the house at 16 to earn their own money, shut your eyes to teenage tantrums and let them be junkies and juvenile delinquents. It is more difficult to keep haranguing your precocious kids from making idiotic mistakes that may cost him or her/his life than to allow them “freedom” to do what they please so the parents can sleep more peacefully or continue their social butterflying. So just for the difficult 20 years or so that most Indian and Chinese parents spend putting their own life at hold to allow their kids “excel and do well” through means not appreciated but that yield result, my heart goes out to them. As Gandhi said "must we perpetrate all sins to realise the horror of it?".

Unfortunately just like our skin colour and genetic make-up we can’t choose our parents .... and ironically what you get is what you give...so for those of us who come from secure and well meaning families, we could pass those values on and we could “customise” the home rules to accommodate the new generation a bit, just as each generation before us did for the next, to be fair!! And well I cant recall having friends shooting kids up in my school because their Mommy made them do more Mathematics!!!

Gotta go. Have guests over for dinner. BTW all the cooking that I have learnt and all that food that people smack up was taught by my mother since I was nine :D and I dint need no shrink just because Mum made sure that the chicken bloody well come out tasty. We Indians dont throw or waste food. Too much poverty around you see!!!! GROWL

5 comments:

supriya said...

i think it's very nicely put together and very insightful..there is no perfect way to raise children...

shabira said...

Very well written!! Parenting these days is an overwhelming task because of the advanced mind sets and ideas that the present generation child portrays. Nonetheless good parenting is common sense, total understanding, calmness and love and of course lots of values which still prevails in our social system...it is an aspect of life...

sahiba said...

well said...its easier to let go....indian mothers, in most cases wud also be jailed by western kids....but look at how they sacrifice every moment of thr lives to ensure that thr kids learn the 'lessons of life' and prepare for the worst from early on ! all those 'disconnecting cable in exams' n 'lock in the room'etc does do the trick !

OrangeBlorenge said...

Very well written! For people like me from India and living in a western country amidst westerners it’s always a debate if I’m doing the right thing for my child.
I would want to follow similar rules for my child that I had while growing up since they seem to have made me a better person today but on the contrary I think about ‘what‘ my child is going through since her life outside home would be filled with western culture, rules etc.
Amidst all these thoughts, I'm still determined to give her the best and if possible the best of both worlds. Not really sure how I’m gonna do it :) but it’s the BELIEF that our parents have done it and that we can do it too.

quantum said...

OrangeBlorenge or OB, i am sure you will do an excellent job in imbuing values and ethos which u deem fit for your child... After all u were not born a parent always, so u are learning along as well... And I am sure your daughter will come to see your ways in her most important moments ...cheers!!!...