Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Age no bar

"Bete, har cheez ki ek umar hoti hai", parents used to say.

There is a time to focus on studies.

A time to build your career.

A time to shoulder responsibilities.

But in the Indian scheme of things you are never 'old enough' to really live your life the way you want to.

Until ultimately you are old and telling other - "Bete, har cheez ki ek umar hoti hai..."

Philosophy aside, there is a very real dilemma facing parents today. My ten year old daughter (if you ask her she'll say, "11 in 3 months time!") wants to join Facebook.

Now officially you have to be over 13 to be on Facebook but you know how simple it is to circumvent that rule. Her point is, lots of kids in class have Facebook accounts.

I have no way to verify that - and neither should be the basis of my decision. So what do I do?

This is but one example. There is the 'when can I get a cellphone' question.

When can I go to the mall with my friends - and no adult escort?

Recently I was stumped by when can I get a manicure (just want to try it once).

My standard response is:"When you are in class 10". But I doubt I will actually be able to hold out for another five years.

So what are my concerns, why stop her from 'having it all' as soon as possible?

Well, like all parents, I want to protect her. From the big bad world out there. And yet, I do not want to spy. And I do not want to worry when I don't spy (and therefore don't know what company she is keeping).

The hope is, the older you get, the wiser you get. But is there any such guarantee in this world?

At best, you are postponing the inevitable.

I've let her read the 'Twilight' series (it's supposed to be teen fiction but hey.. it's a rage among kids her age).

I switch off 'Desperate Housewives' when she is around but she's just discovered 'Friends' and funny as it is, the storylines are definitely 'adult'.

I've handed down my ipod to her (but strictly forbidden taking it out of home).

Yes, kids are growing up faster - physically and mentally. But you know they're still kids when they ask you - can we do this or that?

The day they 'just do it' is the day they have grown up.

Har cheez ki ek umar hoti hai. The question for parents is, when will be old and wise enough to let go?


  1. "The day they 'just do it' is the day they have grown up." - Very well said.

    As we move forward, kids will want do more such things, whether we like them or not.
    I guess the question is - Do we want them to be open to us and tell us what they are doing, or do we want them to do stuff and not tell us?

  2. Beta..tu kitna bhi bada ho jaa.. maa-baap ke liye to tu bachcha hi rahega na..

    Filmi Style: mamma's boy: 40-ish hero running home from college - "Maa main main college mein first aaya hoon Maa"

    Maa: "Beta aaj tere pitaji hote to kitne khush hote"

  3. dont discount the peer pressure in premature adultship!!

  4. Despite me not being father of any kid as I am bachelor, I had this similar feeling which is result coming out of an observation on my nephew. As a kid we always wanted our free life, but we were restrained, and I now feel it was real good that we were restrained and disciplined. And yes every act needs to have an eligibility, else sex as an act and raising kids could also start well before the age of 18 / 16.
    Point is kids need to restrained, a freedom can only be enjoyed with discipline and that we can say be experiencing our own life. Parents who boast around saying their kids can operate computer / mobile phone at a such young age, are opening dangerous limit, which they don't know where will it stop.
    Also kids should be restrained not because they don't understand on the contrary they should be restrained cuz thy have real sharp mind to digest even unwanted data and facts. I may be counted as old / traditional compared to my age, but question to liberals are you what you are just because of ur talents or there is contribution of discipline forced by your parents.
    in jet age everything n every one wants to speed up and want to achieve things pre maturely, but it has side kicks aswell, need to introspect on that. Else liberal parents allow kids to see porn and allow the natural course then, just imagine the disaster in waiting then
    So i do agree kids need to b taught n yes thy should b made aware of things but over all supervision n restrain is also needed and parents should learn n implement of putting foot down when they feel line is crossed

  5. My kids are sort of at that stage too. An FB account is out of the question, although we are considering a cell phone. My kids do have email accounts which I monitor, but the worrying thing I notice in a lot of parents in India is being proud of their kids on the PC (and internet). And the internet for a kid, alone and unmonitored, is pretty dangerous - the parents seem to have no clue though !
    The Twilight Series are the rage, but it's got bad female role models (bad as in "not using your brains" bad), from what I read - see the reviews on Amazon.

  6. Well, probably not most qualified to shed light on this one, since my daughter is less than 2 yrs old. But I have been thinking about this dilemma too.

    I quite agree with you Rashmi, that most of us (in this generation) have lived too protected lives with never really getting a chance to live our lives our own way.

    And personally, I want my daughter to have all that freedom growing up. The most important decision or acceptance to make in this for a parent is that the kid will make his/ her own set of mistakes. Rather than feel alarmed by that, we as parents would need to accept that and not burden the kid with the guilts of failing. Life isnt about winning, its about learning and living a fullfiling and creative existence.
    Obviously, I cant/ wont let her be on her own at age 6-8-10, and she would need to be eased into it. Most importantly, I (hope to), let her realize growing up, that her life is her own and though for now, we, do take decisions on for her, but soon, she would get to do it all on her own, choose her own career.. her relationships.

    Might sound too radical, or might chicken out myself, when the time comes as such, but this is how I look at it.

    Obviously, its such a complex equation. But certainly, I want my daughter not to be tied down unduly at the prospect of taking risks of making mistakes, society be damned.

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  8. Too much of possessiveness about the kids makes Indian kids suffer in the long run.
    I understand that parents have to worry about kids, it's quite natural. But by just letting the child go will lead him/her to explore the world and respond to his/her inner calling!!

  9. Great post, very moving.

  10. Nice post.

  11. Rashmi,

    Kudos for a nice post after so long (I guess years).

  12. Anonymous4:06 PM

    haha~ funny! thank you for your share~ ........................................

  13. It's because of parents wanting their children to have the best things in the world brings out all these problems...
    parents should try and remove their obsessions...

  14. Rashmi - Here's a nice review for 'Connect the Dots':

  15. When's ur next book?
    Read ur Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.
    Was undervalued at 125!

  16. i see a lot of comments from parents here. Permit me to put forth the view from the other side f the fence.

    I must have been 15 when i first created an email account. Back then, it was considered a privilege. My mom used to accompany me to the cyber caf emost of the time, and carefully monitor every thing i do online.

    well, i'm 24 years old now, and my mother still likes to peek into my chat windows and see who i'm talking to and what kind of language i'm using.

    She recently joined orkut herself, and her first comment was on the "about me" description in my orkut. My "about me" says "i'm the toxic waste byproduct of God's creation," so don't really blame her.

    I have been accused of being rebellious and that's a charge i have never denied. But i still feel that some things, like chat windows, should be off limits, har cheez ki umar notwithstanding.

    simple question: where does parental monitoring end and stalking begin? and where does obeidiance end and submissiveness begin?

  17. nice info


  18. here are 2 cents,
    Growing kids is an issue these days, if parents are aware.
    Restricting facebook, internet can partially help as there is always a channel to have information about it, "his/her surrounding". Kids learn from stories, which gives them imagination and visualization, some joy and perception(Most Important).
    I believe, restriction is a way but a negative.
    Telling them a Better story, better imagination, construction of good perception can help better way.
    What do you think?

  19. Well said Ranjan...
    If we have swimming pool in house..its better to teach swimming to child than to put up fence to avoid fear of drowning

  20. Agreed with AMODINI. It is disturbing how much girls like Twilight, specifically girls, especially since it teaches girls all the wrong things. Below are some websites that tell exactly why.




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