How do we walk the talk, as parents?Parents today have a huge task on their hands, in India. On the one hand, they are inevitably part of the rat race and such a rat race is common to all.
So, in the metros it is common to find servant maids who work the whole day, but go on to prepare something for the public to eat in the cheap mobile eateries that one finds all over. Or sell flowers, vegetables, fruits or unbranded textiles and what have you.
Move upwards some notches in the economic ladder, and we have the middle classes, who are always educated, know at least two languages apart from English, and are gainfully employed. In the metros, it is next to impossible to find any middle class woman who does not work. The men often work late into the night, or work up to 9 PM and spend the next two hours travelling back to their residences.
So, where is the time for interacting with children, helping them in their home work, getting to know their passions, or inner urges and so on? Better still, regularly meet with their teachers to know what is going on?
The sad truth is that the rat race gives us hardly any time. Sundays are often days when we tend to sleep most of the day. Or just relax.
The children get to see the rat race, feel sorry but when they see the larger reality, feel helpless, and then take everything in their stride. The mothers try to squeeze a little time here and there to ask some questions on health of children, and their home work. That is about all.
The vital question: who teaches the children good values? When we were just ten some fifty years ago, and when this rat race was not so bad, did we not have our mothers teaching us Ramayana and Mahabharata? Did we not find enough space to admire our fathers, who sacrificed so much, saved a lot more than we they could normally afford, by giving up on so many desires on wants ( this younger generation now things such wants are necessities) like air conditioners at home, or travel by the AC class? Did not our parents teach us the value of saving through recurring deposits?
Yes, we did not have so much junk food, but whatever was available, was taboo. We had the fear that our parents would admonish us if we were to taste such junk food.
Cut to this generation. Even a six year old, wants to play only with smartphones. Domino pizzas are ordered just like that. This internet, whats up and Facebook generation, is so much permissive. They get to see so much violence around them., They get to see so much of hatred and so much of cunning strategies of neighbors, their own peers or even teachers to "get things done".
So, we do not have any choice. Let us take one small plant, allow our son or daughter to plant it in the vicinity of our flat or apartment, or even in our native place, water it in whatever way he or she can and try to teach our children the value of protecting our environment.
If we do not have confirmed tickets for train travel, let us travel by buses or cars but not bribe the ticket examiner. Let us teach them the value of honesty. To the maximum extent possible, let us use the most advanced IT infrastructure possible to do things, but also teach our children the reach of such technology.
We, as parents have a choice. Would we like to pay the five lakh rupees demanded by some residential schools in the metros, with facilities for JEE/ NEET coaching, or get our children admitted to the best school and invest in private tuition for such competitive examinations. The latter choice will help our children understand that we will not compromise on certain values.
We also need to make our children understand what it takes to do good to others, and to have compassion for the poor. Let us take our children to some orphanage, at least once in a way, and get them to understand how much our children have which they do not. Let them understand what God has given them.
Such acts will help our children understand the wider context of our society, where huge inequalities exist. We should also wean them away from the seemingly bad behavior of our relatives, but teach them not to hate them.
We should be very careful to help our children understand how they can use the social media for their own benefit and not allow to misuse it.
We need to set personal examples, even when we are part of the rat race, from which we cannot escape at all. How and when we start doing such things on a very wide scale, is what we all should be concerned about. There is no choice here. Let us act in every possible way, to set personal examples for our children to follow.