Being the new-age desi mom

Being the new-age desi mom


Being the new-age desi mom

Given the extent of globalization, and the seemingly diminishing differences between western and Indian cultures, motherhood is nothing short of an epic balancing act that is easier said than done, writes Vimla Patil.

An international information agency interviewed more than 18,000 people in 24 countries in the last five years to find out the happiness/contentment quotient of populations in each nation. “The survey was not about economic progress or well-being,” said its authorities, “It was about factors which make people what they are.”

In the findings, Indians emerged as one of the world’s happiest and contented people. What was the reason for their happiness? The survey reported that relationships remain the number one priority for Indians who invest their love in family unity and support. In Indian culture, family has a much greater impact on a person than elsewhere.

Gail Sheehy wrote in her iconic book Passages: “Once you are pregnant, you are pregnant all your life,” stating the simplest truth of a woman’s existence. But given the extent of globalization, and the seemingly diminishing differences between weatern and Indian cultures, motherhood is nothing short of an epic balancing act that is easier said than done. Here are some problems which new-age mothers face in our ‘modern’ India:
Women ‘want it all’!

Undoubtedly, you want a career, a busy social life, a youthful, healthy body and opportunities to indulge in all the pleasures and activities you have dreamt of. But once you have a child, it is your duty to make the child your first priority and make that link last a lifetime with love, devotion and care. Parents, they say – and mothers especially – are the only people in this world who give unconditional love. That’s why in the Indian context, a mother is considered to be a god!

Tiger mom

Mothers are fighting the concept of ‘personal space’ with their children: Don’t hesitate to be a ‘tiger mom’ when the time and situation requires such an avatar. Read the new book (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) by Amy Chua, John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale University, USA. The idea of the Tiger Mother (strict when needed mother) is gaining popularity in many countries including India. With her own ‘tough parenting’ experience from her Chinese background, Chua has written the new rule-book for mums telling them what they should do and what they certainly should not.

Firang “space”

Western way of life is a huge influence on Indian children: Insist on being an ‘Indian’ mother in your approach to child-raising. The formula succeeds most times because it belongs to us.

“Western parents tend to give much more freedom to their children,” says Mamta Kaushik, a counsellor who welcomes these new and controversial books, “There is an awareness today that too much molly-coddling can make children wayward and obsessed with freedom to do what they wish. In many Western countries, at the age of 18, children leave home and are expected to be financially independent. In India, children stay with the parents unless they need to go to college or work elsewhere. They are brought up with more control and discipline and with definite denial of ‘space’ in the Western context. Most children accept this as the family is a safe haven for them for a lifetime and the love they get from the family is their strength. They are constantly steered towards their goals and aspirations with a benign but firm hand. Young people themselves welcome the family system in India as is seen in the lives of all strata of society. Parenting is a tough job, but only the right mix of love and discipline can create a win-win situation for both parents and their kids”.

There is a fundamental and even legal difference between child-rearing in the West and in India. In a recent case in Norway, for instance, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya had their children Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1) taken away by the Norwagian Child Protection Services because they found the children being fed by hand and sleeping with their parents. This case horrified all Indians and brought about the intervention of the Indian Government to get the children back to their family.

Thus, to emulate Western cultural motifs blindly can cause serious problems. Be proud to be ‘different’ by teaching children about the importance of family responsibility.

SRK a.k.a. Spoilt Rich Kid

Women have no time or energy to build family unity. Dr. Subhash Pillai, a psychiatrist, says, “A mother is the architect of the unity and peace of the family on both sides – her own family and that of her husband.” The family is the strongest unit of Indian society and gives all its members support and help to achieve their goals. Look at the children of all top industrialists – the Birlas, the Ambanis, the Godrejs, the Singhanias and all the new tycoons of India. Look at even Bollywood parents or artists like Amjad Ali Khan. Their children are introduced to business and wealth making or high standards in performance from their childhood. There is indulgence but strict control too; you don’t want your child turning into a spoilt brat. The Indian family institution has to be protected at all costs.

Adam’s Family

Single mothers have a hard time: This is certainly true! But remember you may have fought for the custody of the children and won if you are divorced so you wanted this responsibility. If you are widowed, you have become the only parent the child has. If you have adopted children like Bollywood star Sushmita Sen, you and your family are the children’s family. It is well to remember that today, family means only people who love and support each other. So do not consider yourself as a freak. Such families are normal as long as you build a relationship of trust and love. Love is the answer to almost all problems. You don’t need to think you make a freak family.

Impatient mommy

Busy mothers have no patience: Listen to your kids when they demand your time. Consider this as most important because patience is the key to your relationship with your children. A child offers you a whole new universe. They see beautiful things and observe details which you never dream of. A small story illustrates this point magnificently: A mother of a toddler was busy talking to her friends while her child pulled at her hand to show her something. The mother broke the conversation and went to the window with the child to see a beautiful butterfly. When her friends showed irritation at her going away, she said, “I can talk to you anytime. But sharing this moment of wonder is my gift to my child and is the first priority.” Share this mother’s quality of patience and see how a whole new world opens up for you.

Saying “No”

Mothers can’t meet incessant demands of children: Be clear on what you expect from children. If you won’t allow something, explain your reasons without losing your temper. Use clear logic and see that you make your point clear. Tell your husband about your decision and the reasons and decide between both that he should not change it. You and your husband – or the entire family – should be together in all decisions regarding the child. Don’t let children use parents one against the other.

What if you could go back and raise your child again? What would you do differently?
It's a question asked in this inspirational video about the true joys of parenting. The insights are as surprising as they are simple. Take some time to watch it and discover the most precious things a mother can give their the video: If I Had My Child To Raise Again (

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