Free-Range Vs Helicopter Parenting: Indian Scenario

Image courtesy- www.damemagazine.com

I am all for being a hands-off parent. I really would like to be able to observe my child, see him grow rather than always be present while he is doing his thing. For someone who has been a SAHM from the first moment, it is quite a treat to be able to see your child interact with their environment, peers and the world at large without literally (and figuratively) pulling at the leash.

However and this is a big however, the concept of Free-Range parenting  isn’t always viable for the Indian mindset or for that matter the pan-Asian mindset.

While I cannot comment knowledgeably on a generic Asian temperament per se, let’s just say that it allows for a lot less permissiveness in the interaction between children, young adults with the adults they encounter. It’s not borne out of a compulsion of seeing the kids become “docile”, “controlled” or even submissive but out of a Father/Mother knows best funda which seeks to leave decision-making in the hands of an adult till the child reaches the sensibilities of an adult and can take independent decisions and their consequences.

And that’s ultimately what any parent worth their salt is concerned about- consequences. Children primarily lack the ability to make judgement calls before a particular age sets in and I personally believe that for quite a few people, that age usually starts in their late teens or early twenties. The reason being that while they reach this age the gamut of experiences that they go through are more definitive and they pay more attention to the learnings that arise out of it, rather than having the moral of the story outlined (if you will) by their parents the way it was done during their early years.

And let’s not even open up the can of worms that includes predators et al. The world is a difficult place to navigate even for adults. Children with their innocence/lack of experience aren’t always able to gauge with certainty who they should place their trust in. A child is a child for a reason. Despite being conditioned to be responsible, or inherently of a more compliant nature, a child can lapse into carelessness, callousness and self-indulgent behavior because knowing altruism, benevolence or how to do the right thing isn’t what the doctor ordered for a 7 year-old.

And to expect them to be any different is to expect munchkin-sized adults to be walking around while looking much cuter than the normal-sized ones.

And what does this have to do with being a Helicopter Parent Vs. A Free-Range one? Well as adults we learn about balances and being a parent is the toughest balancing job in the whole world. The tightrope walking kind of pales in significance because there isn’t always a safety net and the worst case scenario is far worse than any of us could begin to fathom. So it comes down to this…is it better to suffocate your kid as a helicopter parent or not know where your kid is or doing what and to what extent because you’ve eased up too much on the free aspect of free-range parenting? Isn’t even a mild case of paranoia a given for a parent? Or do we actually sleep better knowing a 10 year old will definitely look both ways before crossing the street or a 5 year old knows what intuition is and is guided by it?

So while I veer more to the side of helicopter parenting (much to my chagrin) on matters of education, teaching of good behavior and imposing of rules et al; there are times when I can wear the mantle of a free-range parent as well. And I can give a good amount of leeway only because I stayed close, watched every step and made sure the most avoidable dangers could be identified and well…avoided. Some days I hop,skip and jump all over the place being both kinds of parents because the situation and my innate nature demands it.

But know this, no amount of parenting will help if an asteroid hits the earth and wipes away all of humanity. All you can do is know that you are being true to yourself while you bring your child up and despite all the time-outs, angry glares and whatnot if your child is genuinely happy to see you first thing in the morning and runs to tell you about every scrapped knee to every new bug he spotted on the road, then maybe, just maybe you haven’t screwed it up.

Just something to think about.

 

 

After A Long Break…From Writing

Been visiting my folks back in my hometown. It’s kind of become an annual trip during the brat’s summer holidays. It’s part torture and part relaxation but the fun comes and goes. I say that because the concept of fun not only changes from person to person but sometimes even from day-to-day.

One day locking yourself up in a room and just reading Asterix comics can be bliss where another day going for a trip on a river despite the icky-sticky humidity can be pretty damn good too!

But be as that may I have some blog posts bursting to get out. Haven’t blogged at in the past month. Barring my renewed love for Instagram, I wasn’t doing anything else at all. A break of sorts.

Anyhow one of the things that did catch my eye and then my head was the essay written by Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, after her husband passed away.

Apart from the utterly heartfelt words that Sandberg wrote, what really caught my attention were her updates on Facebook throughout the entire  time she was in mourning.

She didn’t do any of the silly and utterly without value kind of updates like check-ins into malls or fashionable places or used emojis to describe how she was feeling but she her work updates, things which probably kept her grounded during that indescribably difficult time.

But I have to wonder if uneasy does rest the head wearing the crown. Do you have time to actually grieve, go where your life is taking you or are you beholden to a greater power- your work?

My father, although not in Sandberg’s league, is a pretty well-established person in his own field. And he seldom switches off. While it isn’t as hectic as it was before he retired (for the first time) he hasn’t entirely cut the cord either. And it must be hard to do…if you have done something for most of your adult life, especially when you distinguish yourself at it.

But while there is something to be said for going up the ladder, there are times when being a foot soldier or a cog in the system might be a blessed thing as well.

Here endeth the first one of the pent-up blog posts. More posts to follow. Some on my photo blog. Check it out here.

Reblogged:Playing With The Hand You’re Dealt…

Isn’t that what it all boils down to in life?
It isn’t always celebrating the things that go well or in accordance with our plans or even making our peace with the things that don’t. It’s finally just existing with what IS.
Sometimes we are able to do it gracefully and other times it takes a lot of plodding and prodding to get through each day.

There’s a saying by Oscar Wilde that people often smugly quote- ” There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

I’ve found that while tragedy might be too strong a word for it, it does seem difficult to comprehend and accept ,what you sought out, opted for even isn’t all that it’s cut out to be or even worse…it’s not what you want. Is inadequate.

So you shuffle the deck a few times and hope the next hand is better than the one that has you staring in bafflement.

Or you chuck the cards up in the air and don’t care if they scatter all over; since it’s mimicking life in doing so.

And some of us painstakingly make a house of cards. Trying to balance each card over the other and anxiously watching whether they stay up or come tumbling down.
In the end you either end up with a steady house you used up all your cards in making and are proud of or you decide to call it quits after you reach a plateau and are still left holding a few cards for later.

It’s all about playing with the hand you were dealt.

Mommyhood: Some Truths

Any mother will eventually admit to this- they love their kids the most when the children are either asleep or doing something that doesn’t require them (the moms) to be an active participant all the time.

See the thing with kids is this- you are doing things with them, for them, watching them do things while doing things with them or for them; you’re never really just watching them. And often when you do get the time to stop and watch them you realize that they’re grown up or a little less of the baby you knew just a few months back.

Here’s a silly little anecdote but one that made me feel all warm and gooey inside so naturally it’s all good.

Once we moved into the new place I realized that the toilets were higher than at the old place. MLM had to get some help to get hoisted onto the pot initially and would need to stand on tiptoes to pee. Very banal stuff right? And then I walk into the loo one morning and I realize he’s not on tiptoes anymore and can hoist himself onto the pot. Give the kid a medal! In a mom’s book that calls for an “awww my baby’s growing up”.

We can often miss out on the subtext in day-to-day life. The stuff going on in the background and even the foreground while we’re going about with the essentials.

What I like to do these days since MLM learnt to swing on his own is observe him and his interactions with other around him.

I find it satisfying in a way when he doesn’t come to me with his problems but tackles them on his own because that too is a sign of independence and growing up.

He has a funny way of referring to certain children’s’ moms as ‘Mother’. When I asked him why he was calling a particular lady as Mother since she wasn’t his mother and why not call her Aunty instead, pat came his reply- “So many aunties”. That is his to-the-point way of telling me he’s trying to keep from confusing the issue and directly addressing some kid’s mom instead of saying Aunty and having half a dozen women look at him. That he didn’t remember the lady’s name was well evidenced as well.

But the overall dynamics are very entertaining and enlightening to observe. Just yesterday MLM told another child’s mother than her daughter was hungry and wanted to go home. Out of the blue. The child in question was happily playing around with no idea she was the topic of a conversation. Why this sudden benevolence towards a peer? Well MLM’s soon-to-be-ex-best-friend who has of late started playing with other girls and keeping him at an arm’s length was approaching the playground and my darling son decided upon a preemptive strike before he lost the battle!

It’s amazing how these little minds work, how complex and yet simple their thought processes can be. And I get to be a spectator and take mental snapshots…all because a little boy has learnt to swing and I don’t have to give my biceps a workout anymore.

Amen. And thank you Galactic Ameba for your benevolence.

Movie Review: Gone Girl

I don’t get to go out too often and watch movies. But when I do and it turns out to be for a movie like Gone Girl, it is totally worth it. Btw, the link contains the spoiler too, so read it only if you aren’t planning to go see the movie.

This movie will appeal to those who enjoy good cinema and not merely look for ways to fill up and hour or so. Also, those who like their characters well-nuanced and fleshed out are in for a treat because Gillian Flynn is a woman with a diabolical mind and she unleashes that in the book and also in the screen play of this movie. The movie then becomes an extension of the book by bringing to life those scenarios one might have wondered about while reading it. The director, David Fincher and the author move in sync to make this movie the closest representation of a novel that I’ve seen in a really long time.

Onto the actors- this movie is Rosamund Pike’s through and through! What she emotes, what she leaves unsaid, her icy cool demeanor, her scrambled desperation, her warped mind as Amy is unadulterated good acting. Entirely au naturel! The Oscar is in the bag this time. Or it should be!

And it’s a good thing that she’s acting because the thought of this kind of sociopathic individuals out there is a bit discomforting to say the least. Especially when it is made out to be quite easy and believable.

Ben Affleck- looks baffled. Don’t know whether he toned it down for the movie or not, but just I did not feel his intensity, his desperation let alone his angst.

The rest of the cast, especially Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and others add the right kind of tang to the mix to bring everything to a boil; at which point Rosamund Pike picks it up again and carries it through like a trooper.

And now is where I use the psychobabble in the review- the movie with all its made-up parts is still harshly indicting of long-term relationships that have been left to fester. Of the people in them who present a calm veneer but are raging rapids of passion be it lust, anger, aggression; inside, all bottle up and ready to spew forth in a unholy spout of venom, darkness and immorality. Dramatic aren’t I?

The end result is a mindfuckery which will have you marveling at peoples’ talents and also at the questions of how well you know your spouse. Do you actually know them? Along with their dark places? Do their dark places resonate in you as well? And most importantly, do you want to get into their headspace and find out the answers to your questions?

This movie isn’t for everyone. It’s not rainbows and bring sunshine. But it’s still one helluva movie!

Movie Review: Enough Said

I watched Enough Said last night. All but the last bit since MLM suddenly woke up howling. But whatever I saw of it seemed very believable and at times a bit slow but then again relationships don’t always ignite and flare up in the blink of an eye. While the movie makers are limited by their constraints of time and often end up packing in a whole gamut of emotions and experiences, the way this movie unfolded was very realistic. People do take their time in getting to know each other, feelings do unfurl gradually and there are awkward bits through it all.

I have never seen James Gandolfini in such a soft role. Not that he was entirely stereotyped to play Mafioso roles but that he could be believable as a flabby middle-aged man, finding himself in a new relationship was really good to see. And Julia Louis-Dreyfus can’t help having such mobile expressions- she frowns, she smiles and her whole face transforms entirely. She too is quite different from Elaine of Seinfeld.

A good real movie about real adults in a realistic world. It was steady rather than slow in its pace and that was the best part. That it’s about middle-aged people doesn’t stop people of different ages from relating to it, even if it’s in bits and pieces.

Worth a watch if excitement and in-your-face romance isn’t what you’re looking for and are willing to watch how real relationships develops.

movie poster