As a parent, I am often overtly moralistic. Pravachan (Lecture) commonly come out of my mouth at the drop of a hat. With a teen and an almost teen, can you really blame me? When I am not playing a referee without a whistle, I am trying to instill some good old fashioned sanskaar (culture) in them. Yes, the word that is often poked fun at but is an inherent part of my parenting as a value system that I wish to inculcate in them. It comprises of being respectful, kind and well-mannered.
But, when it comes to showing instead of preaching, it is easy to hit a roadblock. The other day I had taken them for their annual eye checkup. I am a stickler for traffic rules when I drive. I really try. But I feel unnerved when every single time I get honked at, glared at and intimidated because I refuse to jump a red light. I start out maintaining a Zen-like calm when heading in the mad jungle of Indian roads, but five minutes down the line I am cursing like a woman possessed. Yes, it is not my finest hour. The kids either stifle their giggles or roll their eyes. Watching their uptight mum struggle must be fun, for sure. And it definitely is not a good time to teach them to be kind and gentle if they have to learn from experience.
Yes, my tween questions me about why every one breaks rules impudently. What can I say to him? That we, irrespective of the size of the car we drive and the length of our qualification, care two hoots about road sense. After this daily show, try teaching your teen the merits of not being a rule breaker.
Courtesy the #MeToo movement, we are having a number of conversations about consent and sexual harassment of women. But kids have seen harassment first hand. Men who try to rub against their mother, stare at her or pass lewd comments are pretty common place. One does not need to head very far. And short of ignoring or glaring, most of us just fume and let it go. Respecting women just does not seem to be in our DNA. But I fight that behaviour and attitude. I believe having a strong mother who does not take bullshit helps in raising sons who don’t treat women like second-grade citizens or facilitators instead of partners.
The same works for queues. While I patiently wait, people barge through with not so much as an ask. Apparently, they are the only ones in a rush. How many people does one call out? And the sour face they make when asked to go to the back of the queue is as if I’ve asked them for a share in their inheritance. Yet, I insist that just because others break rules, does not mean that it is okay for us to do so.
Our daily behaviour is one that reeks of entitlement and show of power. There are enough people who encroach upon any open community land without batting an eyelid. Loud, noisy parties are the order of the day showing scant respect for neighbours. Politeness has died a quiet death, as yelling and threatening is a natural resort no matter who is at fault. Keeping our head above water and still retaining our good manners and kindness may seem difficult, but it is definitely the need of the hour.
When we give our kids shiny cars and allow them to drive underage and then cover up their accidents, we are all raising a generation of insolent brats.
Unwittingly, we are raising our kids to be entitled jerks who know next to nothing about working hard, being polite and courteous and respecting other humans.
And as parents, we must fight this with our very beings. While the world at large may not show them that being good pays in the long run or that humility and kindness are strengths, they are.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men ~ Frederick Douglass
I am really trying hard to raise sensitive decent men because this is one battle that can be won right from childhood. But do we have a conducive environment to teach as we preach? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
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