Thursday, May 17, 2012

Parenting: Preparing the children to be accountable!

One thing common in all our recent agitations and public debates was that their proponents were always blaming someone else for the problems.  

Just listen to any press conference of our latest crusaders and you will start wondering how easy it is to solve all the ills that our nation is facing.  The favourite target is of course the politicians and members of Parliament (not that they themselves are acting in a manner that absolves them)! 

If that was to be so, then we just have to remove these politicians from power and elect a new lot who are blameless.   When you suggest that as a solution you get the reply, “No, that can’t be as the voters vote for money and liquor in elections and therefore the same set of corrupt politicians will come back to power”.  Now voters in a democracy have the choice to get what they want.  If they want money and liquor and not good governance how can we blame those politicians who provide them and get elected?   After all we get what we deserve, right?

What is interesting is that the one who is speaking/ preaching is never part of the group that is being blamed for something.   Be it electing corrupt politicians, paying dowry, practising untouchability and caste discrimination, religious intolerance, physical violence , female foeticide, paying bribes, or any other bad practice- the speaker is never a part of it.  If a bribe is paid, it is the problem of the system and not the greed of the one who is paying.  If the road is dirty it is others who make it so.  It is always the ‘others’ who cause all the bad things!

A corollary of the above mentality is that the group to which the speaker belongs is never at fault.  If the speaker is a Congress man, all that UPA Government is doing or all that the members of dynasty are doing are beyond questioning. If it is a Trinamool Congress supporter, then Mamata is the perfect Chief Minister.  If he is from BJP, Narendra Modi can do no wrong and even a legitimate legal fight against him by supposed victims is an act against national interests!  If you are a CPM member, all the political murders and violence that are attributed to them, are handiworks of some conspirators out to malign their innocent party.

Same is the case with religions.  For a Hindu, nothing can be wrong in their religion. If you point out anything that requires change, you are being an agent of some other religion, out to malign the fair name of Hindus.  Same is the case with other religions too.  Unlike in the past, no one is willing to even discuss the need for reforms in religions!  Any attempt at even academic debates is discouraged as an affront to religions.

We are very good at assuming credits for ourselves for anything good that takes place around us.  If Indian cricket team wins their match against Bangladesh we will celebrate as if it was OUR world war victory but if the same Team loses a match to Australia, we will soon start abusing THEM!

Why does this happen? Why has it become a habit for us to externalise the guilt for all that is wrong? Why are we so bad in even considering our own contribution to a problem while we are so good at appropriating all the credit for something to which we have not contributed at all?  Why is that we are unable to look within and seek solutions for problems?  The more I think of it; I am convinced that it has to do with our conditioning from childhood. 

I remember having read somewhere about a comparison between an Indian mother and an Israeli mother in a given situation.  When her child who is picking up the skills of walking falls down and cry, an Israeli mother is more likely to smile and encourage the child to get up and walk towards her, whereas the Indian mother would most likely run up to the child pick her up and then blame the floor for making the child fall down!  If the child is still crying, the Indian mother will kick the floor to punish it for the crime!   

I have not seen any Israeli mother in the said situation but I have witnessed on many occasions Indian parents and grandparents doing precisely as above.  I am sure most of the readers too must have experienced such incidences.   Extension of the same behaviour can be seen when two kids fight each other, the respective parents of each kid blaming the other for the fight and justifying their own kid, without even trying to find out as to what really happened between the two.

If this is how we teach our children, how can we expect them to ever assume any accountability for their actions?  They will always find some floor that is to be blamed for their fall; some bad stage that spoiled their dance; some jealous teacher who gave fewer marks to them.......some bureaucrat who forced them to pay bribes and some politician who looted their country!

It is time that we make a cultural shift from the blame game mentality.  We may be too old to make the shift.  But our children should not be allowed to inherit what is wrong with us.   We must teach them to analyse the situations in a dispassionate manner and find the real reasons for an occurrence or non-occurrence instead of blaming others.

Parents must encourage the children to talk and confide in them.  Without being inquisitive, parents must listen to the child sharing her anguish and happiness on the silliest of happenings around her.  They must generate enough trust so that the child will not have to hide anything from them. 

To make children accountable for their acts and deeds it is very important to stop punishing them for their mistakes.  If you start beating or shouting at a child whenever a mistake occurs, then you cannot expect the child to inform you about that mistake.  It will only be natural that the child will try to hide that fact from you!

Children must be guided towards good and acceptable behaviour; not subjected to judgement and punishment for aberrations. 

Instead of instant results through violence or bullying, parents must show patience and discuss the incident in a dispassionate manner with the child.  Make the child analyse the situation and find what factors led to an incident.  Do not let them get away by blaming others.  Ask them what the child could have done to avoid, or what he might have done to precipitate, the incident.   Explain to them through reason, why a specific behaviour is considered good or bad and how a ‘bad behaviour’ can be avoided.

Encourage the children to resolve their issues with others through reason and not violence.  Never blindly support your children in a dispute or create excuses for them.  Help the children own up their errors and that will make them develop a stronger character.

Character building of our citizens, and not enacting more statutes, is the need of the hour.  Only such better quality citizens can take our country away from all the dirty ills that it is suffering from.  Parents’ role in building a nation of people with better values and stronger character cannot be overemphasised.  

1 comment:

  1. Agree with you..We Indian parents are too very over protective about our kids..always shielding and nursing them..
    I too am so..I get worried for silly things which my son when faces is quite cool about..
    But now am controlling my such a behaviour as I feel sometimes I am stiffling him with my over protective behaviour..which my hubby is against..he asks me to leave him independent and free and allow him to grow facing all the situation good or bad and learning to take decisions all by himself..

    And it is working .. I have stopped interfering in every little affair of his and leave him free to decide. I just guide him with my opinion.
    My part just to make him more gentler as he is growing and continue with his polite behaviour to become a nice humble human being..Rest as I said before will follow..
    As you say..Let our kids grow up into wonderful human beings with a STRONG CHARACTER !
    Wonderful Post :)