Would Salman Khan turned out different if Salim Khan did not make it his parental duty to always defend him? Would the black buck be still alive? Would the ‘unmanned’ car that killed pedestrians not done that? And, would ‘Being Human’ not be just a label on his tee?
I encounter parents like Salim Saab all the time – dogged ostriches who have pulled three bagfuls of wool over their eyes and rely only on their young one’s yarn. I also spot (much fewer) parents who are quick to blame their ward for any offence committed in a 100-yard perimeter of the hapless youngster!
First, let’s tackle the former. A mother tells me how her daughter has always been singled out, teased and made fun of in school. I immediately feel sad for the teen. Then, I hear a different, rather surprising version from her school-friends.
‘She’s always bragging, looking down upon us, and is mean to us.’
More versions are offered from either side. I am flummoxed. I don’t know which one to trust! But, what is clear is that there are clearly two distinct, very different personas this child possesses.
‘My boy never hits first.’
‘My daughter would never hurt anyone.’
are some statements that parents often use as a comfortable duvet to hide under. Maybe, their insecure conscious has taken a hammer and pummelled any dreg of conflicting thoughts into the safety of the unconscious. Creating a world-view that absolves their children is, perhaps, a self-protecting mechanism.
What kind of children are they bringing up? Would these children grow up to have a balanced view on the social equations they create? Would they, instead, have a warped self-image and a sense of entitlement?
On the other hand, I have met parents who are quick to pull their kids by the collar even at the slightest hint of accusation. Maybe, they are acutely sensitive individuals, perhaps bullied as kids or have an acute need to be perceived as likeable and fair.
‘How did she fall down from the swing? Did you push her?’
‘How come you scored so well? Did you cheat?’
Is it possible that these parents are denting the confidence of their children? Like they are always wearing invisible boxing gloves on hands that are forever aimed just below the kid’s ear?
I am no parenting expert. All I know is that I notice these two diverse parenting styles acutely. Back in our days, this problem did not exist. As long as parents knew how many kids they had and on which tree they were perched on for most part of the day, life went on fine. Today, we are more discerning and hands-on, for a number of reasons. But, does that mean we hold a mirror to review our styles? Not that often, I feel.