There was a time when parents controlled kids. Yes, kids of my generation. Most of us grew up having a pally relationship with our moms and a distant one with our dads whom we feared. A normal way to stifle our mischief was when mom told us, “Wait for your dad to come back from work, I will tell him.” That calmed down the most boisterous of kids. And when dads walked in, the kids were extremely well-mannered, did their homework, watched TV or played without noise. And then there were studies. We all had to study, no matter what our aptitude or inclination (not the best of systems, I agree). After the 12th Boards, it was a mad rush for either Engineering or Medicine. A few went on to do graduation to take up MBA or Civil Services. Science was the stream of choice with the highest cut-offs. Even the best did not score in the high 90s.
Cut to today, we have parents who are more involved, less feared and definitely less in control of our kids. The question is – Do we need to control our kids? Not really. But do we need to discipline them and inculcate basic etiquette in them? Certainly. Have we tipped over too far that we are letting the children dictate their lives and to some extent ours?
Just a few days back, we visited a family. This was the first time we were meeting them. The parents were very friendly and we instantly warmed up to them. The kids were a different story altogether. One of them who was the younger son’s age was detached and disinterested bordering on the rude. He did not even say the usual hi or try to make small talk. As a matter of fact, the parents kept nudging him constantly to show his books, his toys etc. but neither did he budge from his place, nor did he bother to answer in sentences or look at the children his parents were hosting. He had a permanent scowl on his face and grunted when someone spoke to him. I can understand a shy child but not open unfriendliness or detachment.
There was another teen in the house who came a good hour later, glanced at everyone and went to her room where she was on the phone. During the dinner, the four children were seated at the dining table, not saying a word. It was one of those rare times when I’ve seen quiet children. As we bid them goodbye, I couldn’t help but wonder why children of such gregarious parents were so unfriendly. Isn’t it basic courtesy to politely talk to someone who visits your home?
What do you feel?
Pic courtesy: Jan H Andersen on Shutterstock