Wednesday, 21st March, 2018

Letter to Sonia Gandhi on 'Parenting Skills'

30, Dec 2013 By Mahesh Jagga

Dear Mrs. Sonia Gandhi,

“Don’t worry mom.”

From one parent to another, I can empathize with your pain, anguish and anger. It is perfectly normal for a parent to be upset, disappointed as well as angry when our progeny does not succeed in life & belies our expectations.

No I am not trying to sell you Bournvita with DHA here. Nor am I trying to push a book about ‘Perfect Parenting’. Parenting is too serious a business to be left to chemical formulations, nutrient statistics and self help books.

But, it is also too serious a business to be left to mentors, coaches & advisors, even if they are ex CMs. Parenting cannot be automated, cannot be outsourced.

First lessons for the child come from (perceived) great feats achieved by parents. For every child the inspiration comes from what he believes as his / her ‘Superdad’ or ‘supermom’. The innocent child believes that his / her parents are greatest parents in the world, most ethical, honest & upright and possibly capable of performing super human feats. So when you tell your son the stories about your and Rajiv’s feats, kindly do not mention the chapters pertaining to Quattrocchi, Kesri, St. Kitts or Bofors. If the delicate mind of the child finds tomorrow that there are chinks in the parents’ armour, resultant dejection can have huge implications on child’s sense of right and wrong.

Secondly, important ethical and moral lessons for the children come from grandparents, uncles & aunts in a joint family. They are very sensitive to behaviour of their parents towards other family members & friends. A Chacha forgotten or an old family friend ignored can create a void in the mind of the child’s relational framework which can never be filled. In absence of such social relationships, the kids can grow up to become clueless, directionless and contextless.

I am sure you would agree with me on the delicate balance between the carrot and the stick, the reward and punishment. It is a method tried and tested by parents for centuries, may be millenniums. “If you get good grades, we would get you a bicycle” holds good even today except that the bicycle is replaced with a smart phone. You may need to try a different variation like, “If you improve your attendance in parliament to above 50%, I promise you a vacation for one week every three months in Spain” But kindly don’t overdo it by promising Columbia too with 60% attendance.

I am sure my advice will be useful and you would act on it. The cross of the failure of children has to be borne by parents.

Another upset parent