As parents we want our children to have the best, try to give them the best. To give them a world of happiness, keep them away from anything that can bring them pain. As a parent, your prayer is to always keep your children safe, wherever they are. It is the story of most parents, in every corner of the world.
Recent events (read: gang rape and molestation incidents) that unfolded in the country and the coverage thereafter had me struggling — I couldn’t decide whether I should let my children know whenever they questioned me about these happenings honestly, or whether I should keep them away from such news reports. Such news, I feared, could scar them for life, make them lose their belief in humanity or worse still make them cynical about relationships.
I tried to follow the incident and its aftermath through newspapers, avoided watching news channel in front of the children and followed up only when they were both off to bed. The secrecy and alert watch around the news made my five year old daughter realise that something was not right. Our hushed conversations with friends and silence when she was around made her extremely curious and she kept asking me what we were discussing. So I made up a story of how a girl was badly beaten up by boys who never went to school and had no manners. This fed her curiosity, and she kept following up with questions like, “what happened to the girl mamma?”, “Is she safe now?”, “Mamma are her parents okay?” And then ‘Why is everyone so angry?‘ How does one handle serious questions coming from an innocent five-year-old when you yourself are shocked and outraged? How could I tell her the truth? All I ended up doing was hug her tighter.
Till now we tried to make our kids believe that it is a great world out there and everything is perfect just to keep them away from reality because we believed that they will absorb the situation around them and understand better when they grow up. So as parents, we kept postponing ‘know-the-reality’ day. I personally would have wanted to push it as far as I could. But then my 10-year-old son realised that there was something more to the story than what was shared. It was a tough situation to be in but with him I chose to tell the entire story in as gentle and simple words that I could gather. Don’t know if what I did was right by letting him know the truth.
Keeping in mind the world we live in today, I felt it is best that our children know how to keep themselves safe, but more importantly to learn to respect each other and co-exist. Sensitising our children to others’ situation is important. The busier our lives are becoming the more distant we are getting with relationships. We live in a time where it is easier to connect online or through messages than pick up the phone and talk to someone. Unrelated, yet related. The best thing we can teach them is to reach out and connect with others. While pushing our children and helping them excel in whatever they do, we must teach them how to be good human beings first. That is the only way I know, that is the only mantra I follow.
Priyanka Chaturvedi is a media recruitment consultant, full-time mum, part-time social worker, voracious reader and a blogger