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Parenting In India: Is It Hindering For The Growth Of A Child Or More Productive When Compared To The Western Ways? #Debate

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By Priyanka Vaid:

When a child is born, her first connection to the world is established through her mother, or in a broader sense, her parents. An infant sees the world through her parent’s eyes; she tries to imbibe everything she recognises in her parents. Thus, a parent-child relationship lays the foundation of the ‘building of her life’. Parenting is the bringing up of a child. It is like the nourishment that is necessary for a sapling to grow into a big and fruitful tree. Hence, for a child to grow into a wonderful human being, good parenting is essential.

Parenting styles vary from culture to culture. The world is a big place comprising of a variety of people having different ways of living. Although culture is the key ingredient, the economic situation and standard of living also have an impact on parenting. While there are a common set of values in different cultures like honesty and integrity, the value system stands divided on some of the major facets of parenting, exemplified by the comparison of the Indian style with that of the West.

India is a land of diverse traditions, all rooted in the same value system. With the trend of joint families still prevalent in India, a child is brought up in an environment where she learns to value people and relations. More than taking care of the physical growth of the child during her younger years, a grandmother in the house plays a vital role in instilling the moral values in the child. She learns to respect her elders from what she sees around in the house. This is an important factor in determining how the child deals with the people outside her family. The Indian parenting style builds the respect for other people, their values and customs. Indian parents believe strongly that their child is part of a family and a community and that it is of prime importance that the child realizes that every decision she makes and every action she takes has consequences for the entire family and community. This makes her responsible towards the family and most importantly, the community. Comparing this with the West, parents believe strongly in the idea that their child is an individual whose individual rights should be respected. In conforming to this ideal, they fear criticizing or punishing their child. Thus, the child grows up to value personal interests more than those of the community. On the other hand, the Indian principle of giving more value to others, builds up a sense of belonging and harmony with the community and thus the environment, which needs our attention now, more than ever.

On the academic front, Indian parents assign a lot of importance to scores and their child’s performance in school. They keep themselves updated about the child’s academic as well as their social life. The Indian formula is very simple — ‘help the children achieve their utmost, which is often more than what they think’. Watching TV or hanging out with friends might make the child happier, but in the long run, if she keeps up her academics, she would be able to earn well and succeed in life. Thus, while extra-curricular activities are appreciated, the focus is mainly on academics. On the other hand, while the Western parents do keep track of their child’s school work, they emphasize more on happiness than a good academic record and so they let their child pursue her passion. But, the Indian parent has an argument here; ‘if you let a ten-year-old child pursue her passion, she might end up sitting on Facebook for five hours in a day’. This kind of freedom is detrimental to her growth. The Indian parents’ emphasis on academics leads to the sense of competitiveness in the child and thus, she has an edge over her Western counterpart when they are brought on the same stage. So, not only does Indian parenting promote respect for others and their values, it also brings up a more successful child. Thus, the ‘building of the child’s life’ grows up higher and higher since the foundation is strong enough to hold it.

While there are variations in the rural- urban (Indian) upbringing, the basic elements of parenting remain the same. For example, an urban child might hang out with friends more as compared to the rural child, but the importance of family is well understood by both of them. With the advent of modernisation, the Indian parent is opening up to the wishes of the child but they are able to balance the welfare of the child with her wishes. Thus, Indian parenting is evolving and marching into the realm of most the favourable form of parenting.

By Nayan Bhatnagar:

A family, especially parents, are a child’s backbone. But care must be taken that the child develops his own backbone and does not stay dependent on his parents for almost a quarter of his life, as happens in many cases in India. From the kind of clothes kids wear to the stream they choose in school, everything is decided by their parents. And this does not simply end here. The selection of the college, course, city of work and even the spouse hugely depends on their parents’ decisions, if not entirely.

Parental love and affection are much needed and desired by children but in this process, parents do not understand that they are making the child overtly dependent on them. A child often stops pursuing his dreams and follows his parents’ dreams. In early years of his life, his creativity is restricted. Every parent wants his child to be a doctor or an engineer, especially in a country like India. Very often the child’s profession is decided even before his birth. The movie “3 Idiots” depicts this beautifully. Offbeat streams like fashion designing, writing, cartooning, photography etc. are not even considered to be career options. Indian parents are often more concerned about what they will have to say to the society rather than their child’s wishes. In contrast, in the West, kids in their early teens become economically independent by going for short-term jobs like distributing newspapers or working in cafes. This is something Indian parents would never ever like as such jobs are considered to be menial.

Academics are given an extra amount of importance by Indian parents. They fail to understand that extra-curricular activities are essential for a child’s wholesome development. A typical Hindi phrase often told by Indian parents goes like “padhoge likhoge banoge nawab, kheloge koodoge hoge kharaab” (you will be a spoilt child if you play, and will be successful only if you study well). Had Sachin Tendulkar’s parents thought him the same thing, he would have never reached the epitome of success, where he now stands. Thus, parents need to recognize a child’s talent and help him move towards it.

Additionally, the Indian way of parenting is quite conservative. It is rare to see teenagers discussing topics like sex, drinking, smoking etc. freely with their parents. In fact, a conversation on these topics is often avoided in Indian homes. As a result, children pick up information about these issues from the incorrect sources and end up adopting the wrong path. Parents need to understand that after an age they need to start becoming their child’s friends than being their protectors as they can then help their kid grow better.

Parental interference is not just limited to deciding the career options but also includes deciding the perfect match for their children. India is probably the only country in the world where arranged marriages are highly encouraged and love marriages are frowned upon. And why is it? Can’t a twenty-year-something decide who is good for him or her and whom to spend his life with?

Such a form of parenting leads children to be economically, socially and emotionally dependent on their parents. Children depend on them until they themselves become a parent. This is clearly not a progressive way of bringing up a child. A child must be independent enough to make his life decisions on his own and be ready to face the consequences. All parents ultimately want to protect their kids but being overprotective can lead to low self confidence in the child. In today’s globalised and highly competitive world, an individual must be determined enough to take quick decisions and this can come only if his parents inculcate this habit right from one’s childhood years. These are the building years of the individual, things learnt at this stage help shape a person’s mind and character.

You must be to comment.
  1. Anuva Kulkarni

    I agree with Priyanka’s view that Indians inculcate values like respect in children, but I must support Nayan’s side of the debate here. We’re never going to be a modern society unless we stop living in fear of condemnation or social ridicule resulting from the choices we make.

  2. Amarpreet Kaur

    Parents through the wealth of knowledge and experience that they have are the only ones who can inculcate the right moral values among their children. At the same time they must ensure that they do not become so over protective that they stifle the very ability of the child to think and decide freely and clearly. There has to be a balance between the two.

  3. Kasha

    I did a research paper on India parenting styles and found this article to be very useful. It was less complicated than the others I’ve encountered.

  4. Sagar

    By putting a lot of parental guidance and pressure, children in India become highly dependent and seek validation from others in their process of decision making. Such growth is harmful, and heshe suffers massively on international platform. Focussing only on academics just for competitive excellence not only makes them egoistic, but closes their mindset for new and innovative ideas. And hence, when they are sent abroad to study, they are unable to compete with international children’s independent and highly open-minded nature.

  5. Neeraj

    Check out how this 11 years old home schooled kid is making and innovating
    http://bit.ly/1PV0VMx

  6. Amrita Kaur

    Wow, this is such a great and healthy debate! It’s wonderful to see this becoming a concern, but whether it’s Parenting in India or the West, each parenting style is unique and subjective however there are certain commonalities that can make the easiest job in the world easy! Recently I (Child Psychologist) have come across absolutely wonderful parenting workshops in the recent past. I believe that MindOn, a great organization in Gurgaon holds some wonderful parenting workshops with renowned international child specialists. I have heard that this time on the 19th and 20th Dr. Soumitra Datta (Child Psychiatrist) will be conducting very insightful and enriching workshops for parents on managing emotions, dealing with teens, and giving personalized tips! I think this is a great opportunity for parents with queries and concerns to get concrete answers! I believe registrations are still taking place so you can call on 8800116694 . I highly suggest that parents don’t miss this opportunity because there will definitely be something unique and subjective for each parent to take away from this.

  7. Sangeeta Pandey

    Parenting is not only a word it’s a complete cycle.. it is a process which starts from baby’s birth and continues until the end .Every life born on this earth develop the own capacity to survive who are not able to do this that life finished.
    Everyone cares their children but when as parents we impose our experiences and thought on our children then it becomes like their brain not able to take a decision or think something new. In India, mostly parent’s interfered or taking decision behalf of their child but in western country, if child able to think then he can take his decision. As parents, you can guide him or tell them his decision consequences but don’t force them— you have to do it this way. Give your child a platform where you kids develop their own thoughts, dreams, decision, his goal and his career too. Never try to make them a parasite. Obviously, he is your child but he is not your private property. This habit should be developed from early childhood. Hope this gives you some idea related to parenting for more useful tips and guide you can download ParentlaneApps goo.gl/5dpsYQ

  8. Shirin Siddiqui

    EXACTLY!!

  9. sauravdas

    India is a horrible country and culture. Indian parents try to cripple their children so they never leave them and they call this crippling, love. By crippling their children they have someone to take care of them when they are old and who will do exactly what they want in life. It is a form of torture. It is so selfish. It is a terrible terrible culture and society. It is a less extreme version of the Taliban or Saudi Arabia where thinking for one’s self is not allowed. I hate it.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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