Monday, May 01, 2006

Little people

Deepa wrote a lovely post on the world of dreams that we retreat into when the real world gets too distressing to handle. She writes about a girl whose make believe world has two brothers. This was because she was an only child with very busy parents. I felt annoyed after reading this. I have always talked for and I will always talk for Children’s Rights. Children should have rights too even if they are minors. I am talking of the right to a childhood with the attention of parents the natural guardians and care takers for a child.

I heard a Priest tell my newly wed friend and his wife rather sermonizingly that as good Christian they should have children soon and that they should not deny life. I was furious. I wanted to tell the Priest that the good Lord who had made the Reproductive Organs had made the Brains too. So why should we use only the Reproductive Organs? I was hopping mad at the irresponsible statement.

It is not just this Priest, but also most busy young parents of today who are guilty for bringing children into the world just for the sake of it. They don't have the time or the help needed to bring up a child yet go ahead and have kids. (Here I am talking about educated people.)

As a detached observer I have always wondered about the exact reason people have children. Is it because they want a child as a token of their love that they want to cherish and bring up, or is it because it happens naturally after marriage or is it to continue the family name ?

When I see young parents dropping off kids to crèches and picking them late in the evening I feel an enormous amount of pity for these kids. They look lost, lonely, cranky and sometimes terribly quite after a day spent at the Crèche when they should ideally be spending the precious childhood with a family. Why should they suffer because the responsibility of carrying on the family name rests on their tender shoulders? Don’t they count as individuals? When will we have a voice or a law that will speak for the child?

There is a young couple in my neighborhood. Both work long hours and they have a 4-year-old daughter they leave with a lady who runs a Crèche. In the evening around 6 ‘o’ clock the mother comes and picks up the child. The child effectively gets about three hours time of ‘waking time’ at her ‘home’. During this time the mother is busy cooking.

Besides she is pregnant with another child.

When will this senseless reproduction stop?


Immigrant in Canada said...

It won't.. the pressure to reproduce is tremendous..
When i told my folks I am quitting my job to be a stay at home own mother asked me if I needed to see a shrink..
Kids are just an accessory to add to the "I have" list

Mind Curry said...

i was waiting for something like this from you.

As a detached observer I have always wondered about the exact reason people have children. Is it because they want a child as a token of their love that they want to cherish and bring up, or is it because it happens naturally after marriage or is it to continue the family name.

i think those sentences are the key..

i wonder why people marry in the first place. is it for love? is it for the society? is it for the family name?

whatever the reason from the above, children will be born into the family for the same reaons.

i cant imagine, or understand the people who marry for the sake of "completing" a social milestone. i hear people marrying without even knowing know just because they have attained a marriable age.

and then life becomes all just have your "honeymoon", "reproduce" and attain "social success and status" and carry on with your farce called life.

i swear i feel so strongly about all this and many such things our people term the "system"..all such crappy things are so ingrained into our system that it just nauseates the hell out of me.

quills said...

Great meaningful post silverine.

Keralites love to put pressure on others while being totally ignorant (perhaps on purpose) about any pain or hurt they maybe causing. They will be always waiting for some tidbit or juicy gossip that they love to spread around without seldom checking if its true or not.

I agree with MC. It is so unfair the way the system works.

Once u reach a certain age, there is pressure to get married And once you do get married, the next pressure is to have kids, and if you have one already, the question arises why not a second. I tell you, people are never satisfied.

Alexis Leon said...

An excellent post on a very relevant topic.

Children definitely have the right to a childhood with their parents. People who cannot offer such a right should not become parents. A few years back it was just work pressure that kept mom and dad away from the kids. Kids usually are in crèches and after that will be under the supervision of maids or babysitters as the mom and dad will be struggling to climb the corporate ladder. These kids will not only miss their parents’ presence and influence but also will imbibe the bad habits of the maids/babysitters. The parents to cover their guilty feeling will shower the kids material gifts—the latest gadgets and gizmos available and will give huge amounts as pocket money, thereby spoiling the children. No amount of money can be substitute of love, care and attention from parents.

Now another phenomenon that is on the rise in Kerala is the increasing divorce rate. Yes, it is there in both love marriages and arranged marriages. The situation of those kids is even worse. Usually they will be dumped with either the father’s or mother’s parents.

But there are parents—both men and women—who really care for their children. I have a friend who resigned from a very good job for two years after her delivery. Then once the kid started going to playschool she rejoined but would never took any assignment that involved traveling abroad or staying late. The when the kid was about 9 years old, she resigned from the company (as the company didn’t give her leave (without pay)). What she told was that she needed to be with her daughter at that age as the child will be having a lot of questions about life and she wanted to be there to guide her, support her and encourage her. After 4 year, she again joined another equally good company. Now she has opted for telecommuting and flexi-time as she and her daughter could spend more time together. Now when the work pressure is more, her husband takes leave and stays at home so that she can focus on her job. Even though, she had missed a few promotions and must be getting a few thousand rupees less, I will say that she is more satisfied and had a nice family life. What is the use of money, if you are not in a mood to spend it? I have a few friends who have put the family before their career, but they are very few.

So, if the parents plan the life and have a mutual understanding, mutual respect, and sensitivity to understand the other person’s need for professional growth, with small compromises, minor adjustments and a few sacrifices here and there, they could have a loving family and wonderful family life where the kids and parents, love and care for each other. Call me an idealist, but I have seen it working.

calvin said...

Maybe I do not know much about this issue , but let me present the one case i know about .

The one couple i know is my Sis and her husband. They have a 10 month old boy and 2 year old girl. My sis still has a demanding job , but she opted for production support so she spends a max (rarely ) of only 8 hours at office. She can work from home . Her husband is a lecturer at CET . They live near by along with his parents . He checks in at midday and comes home early so kids are not left alone for a long time with his parents. On weekends they come to my place . Even then , their prime time is strictly for kids. They take them everywhere . In fact he insists that the kids be with them all the time .

No one put any pressure on them . Two kids was their own decision . And knowing my sis , it must have been a well thought out decision.


As a detached observer I have always wondered about the exact reason people have children. Is it because they want a child as a token of their love that they want to cherish and bring up, or is it because it happens naturally after marriage or is it to continue the family name.
Kids are like your programs. You love them , cherish them , admire each and every minute feature , play with them ,spend your every waking minute , and then some more with them. Kids are parts of your own self you would never part with.

If educated people have kids early , its because they want to. They know and they can opt otherwise right ? So if they are doing it , then they must be knowing.

PS: I do not think kids left at playschool for a few hours will suffer any serious trauma. If they do then I must be suffering some too . My mom regrets it (leaving me at a creche at a tender age of 2 ) even now . But at that time , considering my parents situation , it was unavoidable. They were struggling to make ends meet , and my mother had to find a job . I was born just before she got her job. But look ma ! no scars !

Sreejith Narayanan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sreejith Narayanan said...

i totally agree with aashik.

Most of us would dream about a time when we are able to shower our affection to our offsprings.Like any other parents, the working parents will also be ambitious in this respect. But have they got any other option than these creches? I guess they adjust as much as they can, still they are not in a situation to manage with one person earning in the family. So they are left with no other choice.

And if someone has to stay home and take care of the kid, who will do it? dad or mom? (This, of course assuming that the grand parents are not around :D). In this era, if a person ask his/her wife/husband to stay back and look after the kids, I guess it will be taken more as an insult than anything else.This wasn't the case earlier, when the male in the family worked to earn for the bread and the female made food and took care of the kids.

Harjee Kapur said...

don't think it will.
but i will add to your post.
what happens when these kids grow up? when they form opinions of their own...? and for obvious reasons by now the opinions and ideologies of the parents and children differ...
this is the point where the families break up. the love in its true form, that we see dying around us everyday, is now dying at the roots where we learn to home.
a very good thought there in the post. and as usual, it was well written.

silverine said...

IIC: Kids are just an accessory to add to the "I have" list
That's a telling but sad statement.
@mind curry:whatever the reason from the above, children will be born into the family for the same reaons.
That is so true!!! It is a senseless way to live isnt it? Believe me it makes me mad too grrrr Marrying and having children as part of a 'social milestone' is so wrong!!!
@quills: I am proud to say that the mallu couples in my office have all decided to have kids when one of them can afford to give the child time. I am so proud of them. And there are many others following suit :)
@Alexis: You hit the nail on the head or rather your friend did :) She is a true parent and that is the kind of sacrifice that a human being should be willing to make before bringing a baby into the world. Your friend and Aashik's Sister and Brother-in-law are outstanding examples of parenting in the modern age. Thank you for that comment!!
@Aashik: The gist of my post was that it should be people like Alexis' friend and your sister who
have the right to bring a child into this world and not people who are not willing to make the sacrifices that your sister and Alexis friend are making. Hats off to your mom to enter the work arena to help the family. But kid's in Blr today spend at least 9 hours in a creche beacuse their parents work that long. My concern is for these people when they have children knowing full well that they dont have the time nor resources to bring up a child.
@Sreejith: I disagree that "they are left with no other choice." They do have a choice..... it's called "contraception".
@Harjee: Welcome buddy. You just wrapped up the whole argument so succintly :)) Absolutely agree with you. It is not just family values and filial bonds but culture,ideologies, opinions etc that a child absorbs from a family. What will he learn from the four walls of a creche? Hat's off to that summation !!!

silverine said...

@Aashik: But look ma ! no scars ! That's quite a compliment to your mom :)

silverine said...

@sreejith:"And if someone has to stay home and take care of the kid, who will do it?
Yes who will do it? So why not wait till you get help from grandparents or one of the parents can take the time out for the kid? Why bring a child in to the world to liv with strangers ? It is not fair to the kid even if it is the parents right to have a child. With rights come duties and most of these busy parents are just not discharging their parental duties... eventhough they may love their child very much.That's what this post is all about! It's time young parents put their foot down to social pressures and said "no". Thanks for your comments :)

calvin said...

9 Hours ? 9 hour a day ) Thats too long. I pity the kids

well what I was telling was that most people know what they are doing .. They do want the kids muchas. But then from your description , it seems they are not realising the facts that they are doing more harm than good.

Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Lighten up. Kids are self-correcting mechanisms, though some of them do turn out like me.

Seriously, people want kids. They're misguided, of course. Do you have any idea how much poop and pee the average baby produces?! They're just sewage plants with loud alarms.

Except for my niece, who is Just Wonderful. (See what I mean?)

Chaayakkada said...

Senseless reproduction!

You may wish to reword that phrase...

Dear Madam, you call it senseless, but tell me what is the sense?
You want those parents (one of them) to sit in home to give their kids a homely atmosphere?
Don't you think that there is a reason behind the parents working long hours? Isn’t it because they want to make their kids' life more comfortable, isn't it because they want their kids to get quality education, food and life. During childhood days kids should spend more time with the outside world-with other kids, people, nature's the base on which their character will be formed. I find nothing wrong in it. Otherwise they will end up sitting in a room with his/her mother, who will not allow him to go out and play, watch TV or make friends. I think this will definitely affect their character.

I always felt that kids growing in very protected environments tend to become more defensive in life.

And yeah, kids would be looking for love and affection from their parents...But look at anybody’s life, at any point of time they would be longing for somebody's love and affection or attention. That cannot be satisfied..

Harjee Kapur said...

hey...would like to link your page to my blogsite if it's ok with you...

Matter of Choice said...


Expecting grand parents to take care of the kids is fast becoming impractical, neither is it responsible. You make kids, you raise them and dont dump it on ur parents!!

i know several working parents who do manage to do it beautifully. In fact kids are more independant and learns to take care of themselves if both parents work. Stay at home mothers often lose touch with reality. Because they suddenly have no identity of their own (barring as wife or mom of ***) they try to impose their ambitions on their kids leading to intolerable pressure for the kids.

Maybe as a detached observer you overemphasize the amount of time and attention that kids need from their parents and underemphazise the quality part of it?

Anyway the trend is irreversible. We are steadily moving towards a world where both husband and wife has to work to earn a decent lifestyle (unless they can count on inheritance to live on!).This lifestyle has been experienced in the western world for about two generations now (and the world didnt crash!!).

The only problem i see in this situation is good quality child care facilities in India. But i am sure sooner or later these facilities will come up. Infact today i was reading an article which says that IBM is setting up a creche for its employees in the office. Even otherwise, several smart women have already/will soon found an attractive opportunity in doing what they like (looking after kids) and making good money out of it!.


silverine said...

@arthur Quiller couch: :))
@Chaayakada:If parents have long working hours then delay having children. Period. This is about kids left long hours under day care. And it is no point working your butt off for your kids when what they actually need is your attention and presence.Don't have kids till you can spare the time or are in a position to work shorter hours.
@Harjee: Thank you :)
Expecting grand parents to take care of the kids is fast becoming impractical, neither is it responsible Neither is it responsible to leave kids in Creches for long hours.I am not for stay at home moms myself. What I am trying to say is that parents should be in a position to give adequate quality time to the kid before they decided to have the kid.Even in the West, women delay pregnancy till they are settled in a position to work shorter hours.
Anyway the trend is irreversible. We are steadily moving towards a world where both husband and wife has to work to earn a decent lifestyle This is one of the reason why Europe is seeing declining birth rates. Couples would rather work for that lifestyle than sacrifice a rigorous career for a child which I think is the way Indian couples should go :)

Anonymous said...

Ah! This is one is easy. I have long thought about this topic and I think i figured out why.
People have kids in fear of death. Kids are a continuation and a celebration of your life. Somehow when you have kids, you feel you are reborn again. That’s why I think parents always fight to compare good things their kids do as 'their own behavior' and bad behavior, they easily blame on their spouse.

The answer to your question is in your post itself. You are a ‘detached observer’. It will be like a vegetarian commenting on a non-vegetarian, right? :-)

I agree kids should be with their parents 24/7, but I am sure you are going to change you opinion as soon as you have your own kids, those little brats sucking up every tiny bit of energy you have 24/7…hehehe…just kidding!

But I don’t think crèches are that bad either. I find kids with working moms (normal hours) are more well behaved and more responsible. My mom was a stay at home mom and I was spoiled rotten, I didn’t even know how to fold my clothes until I joined a hostel! Thinking back, I do think my mom should have worked. I feel her pain when she sees her peers in good positions now. She could have, but she chose to stay at home. But I would be lying if I say my mom is perfectly happy with her decision thinking about it now. Trust me; grass is greener on the other side of the fence!

And I think you should not make your grandparents, ready-made-babysitters. It is sad to see grandparents everywhere ‘acting’ the role of baby sitters in U.S enclosed in an apartment or house without talking to anyone for 5 days straight and just wishing they could go back home. Yes, they love their grandchildren to death and all, but they have their life too, yes, really!

If you can’t spend your time with your kids, don’t expect anyone else to do so either. I feel sad when one month old is left in crèches; I think that happens only in U.S with such a harsh policy on new moms. Everywhere else you get at least 3 or 4 months time. In India, my friends take up to 9 or 10 months leave! But then people have to live! Think about single mothers, how they juggle work and kids!

I don’t agree when Alexis says, ‘when moms and dads are climbing the corporate ladder’. That’s too harsh on them! The guilt and pain they feel when they leave their child at someone is unbearable. And climbing corporate ladder is not only for people with kids! Everybody with a little bit of ambition has it in them. And it is not wrong! C’mon. don’t be so judgmental on those poor working moms and dads!

And I don’t think stay at home moms make out the best kids. I think kids would understand the love if you really show it to them even only for 1 hour or so. Okay. So if I go by what you say, why not both of them stay at home and look after their kids. Kids need them both. Otherwise God would have made only one of them with the ability, right? Can’t do that right? So we come up with the argument of at least one of them can stay!

I loved that ‘look ma, no scars!”

Sorry for the long post! But couldnt miss out on this. :-)

silverine said...

@lg: Thank for your views on this issue. I wrote this post after I discussed the matter with my senior in college who is a Child Psycologist. She agreed with me on all counts about this post. Acco to her parents should understand the resposibility a child brings with it and acco plan a child instead of mindlessly procreating. Today most people work long hours. The 9-5 job scenario has vanished. I am talking about the Child's rights here and not about parents. There are no laws to protect a child from neglect.

Anonymous said...

I would trust a parent than a so called 'Child Psycologist'. With all the child psycologists here,
they still are confused whether to
discipline a child or not...Our parents didnt need any psycologist,

I totally understand what you are saying.Child's right..neglect etc..But it is all comparitive. If a child is not dressed up like a ghost at Halloween,I think that also comes as child neglect here.
The psycologists here would term most of our Indian female kids to be 'neglected' 'abused' etc..wont they?

I would honestly trust a parent than anyone else in that matter.
Most of them know whats right for their child. I think our parents knew,right? I dont know..maybe I am oldfashioned.

Anyway good posts!

Sreejith Narayanan said...

I disagree to They do have a choice..... it's called "contraception"

If we look at having kids from this perspective, we are trivializing the desire to have kids, by giving more importance to having sex. (of course it is important)

and waiting till the parents find out an arrangement to take care of kids might not work that easily to the families that struggle to meet their both ends, and if they wait till they get settled, it might be too late, as there are physiological constraints that comes up as the parents grow old.

Jagan said...

having kid and not spending time is a big problem ..people dont realise that theres more to life than just work. thats y i work very less in office ..u c , am preparing for the future ;-)

Enigma said...

reead ur posts read thru ur comments :) infact i should say its an intersting topic:)

silverine said...

@lg and Srijith: I am frankly not bothered about the parents. They have enough rights but the child has none . It's high time someone thought for the child.
@EnigmaL Thank you again :)

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Like 'sex' is the 'in-thing' to do in the west, 'kids' is the 'in-thing' to do in India :) Of course, I'm blowing it up, but what I mean is that people don't really think about it. Everyone has kids, so you have them too. Really, you shouldn't ask such dangerous questions Silverine :) If you do, then ask all the way :D Why kids? But then, why marriage? Why love? What love? Nobody can define 'love', yet people always want to 'love' the man/woman they are going to be with :) Besides, if you really want get into this questioning thing, why live? When all one is is a cancerous piece of growth on the face of the earth, as you put it. So we shall just let our habits be, and live blissfully!