August 15, 1947. After being ruled by the British Empire for almost 200 years, India got its independence on this fateful day. Every year, on the 15th of August, we celebrate our independence day as one nation. All the countrymen, irrespective of their caste, creed, color, or religion, unite to pay homage to our freedom fighters. This day also reminds us of how fortunate we have been to be born in an independent era.
Are we Really Independent
As I was busy pondering over how lucky our generation was, it brought fresh memories of several instances where my freedom was being curbed by my family and well-wishers in the name of love and care. After some more brooding, I realized the problem lies in the Indian parenting values which normalize parents treating their kids as an asset and controlling them.
Let’s Reverse the Trend
This Independence Day, therefore, I request the parents of India’s next generation to free our children from the shackles of bias, patriarchy, and parental fears. It is time we undo the wrongdoing of our predecessors and create an environment of true freedom for our kids. Let our children stumble, make mistakes, choose, learn, discover, and dream.
5 Ways to Let Your Children Breathe Freedom
This Independence Day, let’s redefine freedom for our kids. Read on to learn how.
Free Them from Gender Bias
Until a few generations ago, people did not shy to show their extreme love for their male child as against the female. Unfortunately, parents from the last generation and going forward got smarter. Now these parents shout from the roof top that they DO NOT DISTINGUISH between a girl and a boy child. The truth is anyone who does not create gender bias, would treat their child(ren) equal, not their girl equal to a boy. My heart aches to see that even the highly educated, and self proclaimed modern families, are gender biased. Honestly, I can’t really do much if the thought is deep ingrained into someone. But if you or someone near you brings in bias to your house, please step up and keep your child away from this negativity. Whether it is your mother-in-law expressing her wish for your daughter to grow up and serve her hot chapattis, or whether it’s you not letting your son play with dolls, it’s time to let go of these thoughts. So yes, let your boy cry like a child (not a girl), and let your girl jump, laugh, walk, sit, dress like a child (and not like a boy).
Free Them from Patriarchy
“Sasural jakar naat katwayegi” was the most popular dialogue that I have grown up hearing. From my mother, grandmother to every neighborhood aunty, all they cared was my culinary skills and homemaking skills (or its lack thereof). Education, dreams, passion were always treated like a side gig for girls. Regrettably, things hadn’t changed much since. Girls are still raised to believe that a prince charming will come in their life. And then their primary job will be to cook, clean, care and nurture this man-child. Their career can remain a side hustle though.
If you love your daughter, please don’t do this injustice to her. She isn’t a damsel in distress. She is self-sufficient. Teach her that she can buy her diamonds, or Chanel’s or Dior’s.
Please don’t hate your boys too. Do not compromise on your boys’ upbringing by not teaching them necessary life skills like cooking and cleaning.
Freedom to Choose
Parents in our country treat children as possession. Unfortunately, how much liberal you try to portray yourself, you will end up making decisions for your child. We all must have witnessed this is some form or other, whether it was choosing our career or our life partners. We owed “at least this much to our parents”, that’s what we were reasoned with. Maybe most of us have taken a silent pledge to not interfere with our children’s life. But hey! You don’t have to wait for them to grow up before giving them space and freedom. The truth is once they grow up, you have no right to give them freedom, as they own their lives. But to ensure that freedom or liberty appears natural to your children, let them make decisions early on. They might be little to make important decisions, so let them choose what they want to wear, what they want to eat (between healthy options of course), what they want to study for the day, what activities they want to choose at a particular time. Try making subtle changes in the way you handle your child and it will go a long way.
Freedom from Obligation
Of all the promises that I made to my daughter even before she was born, one was to never burden her from the weight of obligation. Being brought in an era where parents largely suffered from “hamare jamane me” (in our times) and “Tumare liye itna kia” (we made so many sacrifices for you), the decision to free my child from obligation was obvious.
If you are one of those parents who seldom miss an opportunity to remind your kid of the sacrifices you had to make for them, please reconsider your parenting strategy. You decided to bring your child into your world. The kid did not have a choice, you see. So how much hard you work for them to receive a quality education, expensive toys, and luxurious holidays, reminding them constantly of the same does more harm than good. If you argue that you do this to instill some gratitude in them; think again. With today’s generation already leading a stressful life from all the peer pressure and the rat race to be on the top, the additional pressure from the parents will be too hard for them to handle. So stop expecting, stop dictating, and let the child be. Let children discover and grow, without any undue pressure.
Freedom to Explore and Make Mistakes
Even if we consider ourselves broadminded and cool parents, yet we do curb our child’s development in one way or the other. Sometimes it is out of our parental fear and our love towards our children. I too am guilty of it. Each time I try to change her self-invented games (because I find them dangerous); I am limiting her ability to explore. When we were young, we played in the sand, played hide and seek all across the streets, jumped in water tanks in under construction sites, and went for all kids picnic in the next-door garden.
This Independence Day, let go of our internal demons, reconsider our parenting values, and nurture our children in a loving and free environment. Let us gift our children their true independence.