In the past 2 days, i met different people who helped me see the different dimensions of the issue of parenting.
I met this charming old lady of about 70 who lives all by herself in her village house in kerala. her only son and his family live in bangalore and she was here to visit them. It was so charming to see her walk in the traditional dress of kerlala women - a starched dhoti and a towel to cover her chest and she was absolutely unselfconscious while walking amid the high fashion circles in the yuppiedom of Bangalore - Brigade road and commercial street. . She never had formal education but five minutes after meeting her you are startled by her wisdom. I asked her why she lived alone in her village in stead of choosing to stay with her only son here. She said " That is my place. This is his. one can tie an areca nut in the edge of one's sari pallav, but when the seed has become a tree you would be a fool if you tried to tie it there." I was stunned.

Later in the day I met my friend who looked awfully sick. It turns out that she had high sugar and has been very ill. I asked her if stress was the reason and she told me," yes, this oldest son of mine gives me a lot of worries." Mind you the oldest is about 26 and it turns out that he is a careless spender and although very well paid in an IT company, he always ends up with credit card dues. And the poor mother obsesses about it and falls sick. The son doesnt listen to her counselling, nor does he seem to want to learn to balance his check book and poor mother worries herself to sickness in the bargain.

Now for this scene that i watch with a tug at my heart everyday. The security guard of our lay out has 4 children and the oldest girl Sita who is just aout 9 years is already playing mother to her youngest brother of 2 ably assisted by her sisters Savita and Kavita who are 6 and 5.

So it seems that parents living in modern society and belong to the economically higher strata seem to feel more protective toward their children than those from rural societies and economically weaker sections. Among all living species humans seem to enjoy the maximum period of infancy.Biologically, after puberty the human is physically capable of having a child of her/ his own but emotionally we try to keep them in an artificial incubator.This is what leads to a lot of conflict between adoloscents and the older generation. I dont advocate that parents should throw them out of the nest to go and fend for themselves when they are 18 but i do believe that parents have to learn to let go of their kids from the time they reach 16 years and then play the role of mentors guiding them rather than trying to live their lives by proxy.

Of the three models above, while i would like to restore the childhood back to sita , sarita and kavita at least for a few more years, I would not want to be so protective as to worry about my son's finances when he is 26. I would rather be like that regal old lady who knows how to nurture the areca tree and provide the right setting so the tree learns to fend for itself and then let go of it and go about her own little life without any complaints.

(Transferred from Old Blog)
4 Responses
  1. Mahadevan Says:

    The arecca nut example is very apt. I feel, after certain stage, if we do not keep our distance from the children, it would virtually amount to our imposing on them. Our family doctor used to say that a mosquito net would protect us only in our bedroom and that in the street only our own defensive mechanism could save us.

    At the same time, non-involvement
    should not be extended to the level of abandonment. A fair distance, when the childen are grown up, is the key.

  2. Usha Says:

    Thank you for actually going through all the old posts and taking the time to comment.
    I guess once the children are adults there is no question of abandonment - all we need to do is to treat them as mature adults and friends. ( the key is to give them the environment in their childhood to grow into this relationship in later years)

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Beautiful post, Usha. I had been thinking about this issue for a long time. Being a single child, I have fortunately or unfortunately enjoyed the incubator atmosphere for a long time. And you bet, it hurts when you come out of that comfort zone. However, I wish my parents had let me go earlier. It would have made things easier for them when they had to part with me after my marriage.
    But then that’s why parents are sweet, isn't it? :)
    Just couldn't help leaving a comment on this wonderful post. Did I tell you that your writings are awesome?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Parents and especially mothers should learn to develop a distance with their kids as they become adults - this will save them from a lot of heartbreak in middle age. It is beat that they accept this as a reality of life and develop other interests which will keep them active when the children have their own lives to lead.