By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
A very interesting story, courtesy Facebook: A family was dining out in a posh restaurant. In the family group, there was an old man, who was very clumsy. He dropped the food all over his shirt. The diners in the restaurant, amused in the beginning, showed their resentment by complaining to the Manager.
But the son in the group was unfazed. After the meal, he took his father’s hand, took him to the wash room and quietly cleaned all the mess in the shirt of his father. The family quietly paid the bill and were going out when another old man in the restaurant shouted, “Young man, have you not left back something in the restaurant?” The young man was puzzled but nevertheless he replied, “No, sir, I have not left behind anything.”
The old man replied, “You have… A lesson for all the young men sitting here and a hope for the old.”
What is the moral of this story? If your father or grandfather is clumsy, you do not have to be apologetic about it. In this materialistic world, the respect for elders is slowly but steadily going out of the window. Why is that we do not inculcate this habit to our children when young?
My father expired at the age of 64 but I remember very clearly that I would not dare talk to him rudely or curtly till his last. I have observed in certain families up North, the youngsters stand up when some elder walks into the room. It is not because of fear but out of respect.
The modern theory is that one should be a friend with their own children and not act as their mentors and be strict. The children are allowed to express their feeling very freely and in doing so the barriers between the generations break down. Does it really happen? Does the communication between the parents and the children improve?
But in doing so, there is also a small niggling fear that the children lose the respect they have for their parents. Many a times it is noticed that the children, who are more intelligent than their parents, start to disrespect their parents by giving back-and- back answer and one is not able to do anything about this.
Sometimes I really wonder, is it right to treat our children as friends? When one thinks of it, they have lots of friends but only one set of parents. If they do not do parenting, who will? Who is going to tell them the difference between the right and the wrong? Who is going to teach them morals, ethics customs etc? Are the parents supposed to just fan the egos of their children while the children do not care two hoots about theirs?
We are asked to teach our children about self-respect, self- esteem, self-confidence etc., but who will teach them to reciprocate and respect their elders and parents too? This summer, I had four of my grand-children at home. Frankly I did not really know how they would react to any given situations. If there was any chore, I would ask my daughters to do the same rather than my grand-children.
Punishing a child is now passé. The American children are taught by their schools to call the Police if any of the parents even touch them! So the parents have to literally plead with their children and pay to do household chores too!
Indian children are lucky. The parents continue to sponsor their education till the time they decide to stop studying unlike the West where the children are asked to take care of their own education after they reach the age of 18. The children take loans to study and that is the reason in the US 53 percent of children do not finish their graduation. It is tough, working and studying at the same time. Maybe, that is probably one of the reasons that Indian children do take care of their parents in their old age unlike West.
Generally, it is observed that children learn most of their habits by observation. So it is important for young parents to be role models. They should start by respecting their own parents/ elders and children who observe, inculcate this habit. Do you agree?