The Great Indian Parent

Are we “The Great Indian Parent Association” doing the right thing as per our children?  Now with news stories coming out everyday about the horrific pattern of abuse I wonder.

I come from a time when all children were voiceless, right less and parents were Gods.  So were teachers.  We were routinely spanked, had our mouths washed with soap if we used curse words, and even locked up in bathrooms.  The moment an adult decided that my brother and I were too cheeky for our good, we were thrashed, yelled at and, if we were lucky, locked in the bathroom.  What the parents did not know was that there was a stash of comics and novels kept in the skylight just for such occasions … but then I digress.

The point I am trying to make here is that, from time immemorial, adults react to kids developing a spine by imposing authority, sometimes in a most brutal way.  It is a power thing.  The adult has it, and the kid cant earn, is dependent on the adult in myriads of ways – for food, shelter, education, clothes, so the poor tyke is weak.  Its so easy to bully the weak isnt it?

If we are honest, we will admit have been bullied, our self esteem broken in so many ways.  If I compare us with non-Indian, heck non-Asian kids, I find us weak, having no self esteem.  Swami Agnivesh says that he drank his own pee to stop bed wetting.  The mind boggles.  And Twitter, as usual goes on overdrive with Agnivesh jokes.

But if you think about it carefully, what made him punish himself like that?  May be he thought that he had to take away his dignity to feel as though he was dong penance for an error….

Not that bed wetting is a deliberate act which requires a punishment.

Some months earlier, the newspapers screamed themselves hoarse about a parent who forced his daughter to beg, because she did poorly in school. Its the same pattern, hurt a child’s self esteem, take away the right to be human and free.  Impose your bloody and harsh parental authority.

I was a girl when a friend of mine eloped.  Her father was livid.  His statement still makes me shudder “Maine jaan di hai, le bhi sakta hoon.”  Translation “I have given her life, I can take it too.”

From there its a tiny step to become a person who kills his daughter for honour – whose honour I do not know.  I for one would not like to call it something so polite.  Its murder and it should be called murder.

And then when we have such skewed notions of parenting and honour, we become teachers and parents.  Parents brought up in such ethos go ahead and give teachers the carte blanche for disciplining the kids.  We have spiritual (?) leaders like Agnivesh (who come from the same system) and ask what is wrong in dispensing such barbaric justice and using such horrific measures for discipline.

The warden who gave the disgusting punishment is not wrong

The father who made the girl beg is not wrong

Neither is the joker Swami Agnivesh.

There is something wrong with us collectively.  We are a nation of cowardly bullies.  We find it easy to impose our brutal authority on those weaker than us.  When we see someone stronger and more powerful, we cower and back away.

It is cyclic.  We were broken by our elders, and in turn we dish out exactly what we got.

We have to learn better.  It is only then that these headlines wont scream out from newspapers.  But who is going to teach us?



13 thoughts on “The Great Indian Parent

  1. That is thought provoking. Who will teach us, you ask.
    I guess these things can never be taught.  The change can be brought about, only if each of us are ready to embrace it with open arms.

  2. Land of cowardly bullies, indeed. Bang on!
    I grew up with a bully, and there are times when it shows up in my own parenting, it makes me so sad. But at least I am aware of that tendency.

    •  @vanish_forever Yes.  What I do is listen to my children, and that helps curb the tendency to replicate what was done to me

  3. I hear you and I think you’re right too! But the systems are changing though pretty slow but I’m hopeful…with new parents and non-Indian parenting styles coming into picture..things will change!
    Nice post Ritu!
    P.S. lol @ skylight stocked up 😛

    •  @scribbyscribs Its pretty slow.  What we need to do is have laws like they have abroad, against child abuse.  The stock in the skylight – yeh we were the kinds who took our “jugaad” very seriously.  It was jugaad against mindless hours sweating in the loo

  4. I remember my mother telling me to get out (of the house). A child has nowhere to go and it is quite frightening hearing such unkind words. But one day in my teens I found my answer. I told her, “You brought me to this world, I didn’t ask for it. And you think you can just push me out of the house? I have as much right to stay here as you. I will leave when I deem fit.” She never said it to me again.
    Yes, in the past (and some of them still do it now) majority of parents specialised in breaking the children. That was their way of ‘bringing up’ children. Break them and make them absolutely obedient. The funny part is how the same children even after growing up see the control and absolute obedience demanded from them and unquestionably given too, as filial love. They have completely lost their ability to think and evaluate. Sad.

    •  @Shail Mine used to put a dog collar on us and chain us to the window grill … pretty horrific isnt it?  It was all in the name of discipline and teaching us what was good for us.  I wonder :/

  5. A standing ovation for this post. We are too preachy, judgmental for our own good. Little wonder that most of us end up nurturing resentments for a lifetime.
    But I’m hoping things are changing for the better. I see a lot of parents encouraging their children to do their own thing.

    •  @purbaray Yes we are trying to break the cycle, but it takes a lot of work, and we have no precedents set for us

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