Saturday, November 28, 2009


I read following two snippets way back in 1969 or 1970 and if my memory does not fail me it was in Readers’ Digest.

A young boy of 3 years or so was asked his name by someone and he replied, “ Jimmy No.”. It was explained that his parents always kept telling him “Jimmy No” whenever he did something they did not want. So he took No as part of his name.

A young man walking on the beach saw a girl of about 2 years playing very close to the sea running towards the waves and running back when waves touched her legs. Her mother was sitting few yards away watching her daughter intently. He asked her as to why does she not stop the girl from going towards sea as it was dangerous but the mother did not respond and kept looking at the girl without shifting her gaze. Suddenly mother sprang up rushing towards the girl who had almost got swept away by strong wave and brought her out of water. On reaching the man she said, “ If I had stopped her from playing the way she was, she would do so when she is alone and not being watched. Now she knows the danger and so she herself would be careful in future.”

These left a lasting impression on my mind.

A year or so later I heard a young girl of about 8 years telling a lady, “ Go ahead and tell my mother. What will she do, give me few slaps, so what?”. This seemed to be a retort to the lady threatening her that she would report her misdeed to her mother. What struck me was the defiant attitude of that young girl.

These made me think about how children should be treated in their formative years by parents. Relationship between parents and a child is very important at that stage for overall development of the child into a responsible adult. And subsequently too bond between parents and grown up children is of utmost importance to ensure all round happiness of a family. There are umpteen number of books written by specialists but what I am going to say is the basic principles which have been of help to us in our years of bringing up children and as such I am sharing it with you all.

First and foremost we need to keep in mind that a young child is innocent, curious and interprets things as per his or her exposure. So when we speak to child about anything we need to get down to his or her age and understand their point of view or way of looking at things. For safety of toddler we need to keep things which may be harmful for the child out of reach. We had put dummy plugs in all reachable power point not in use and removed all items from dressing table locking those up in the drawers instead of saying NO every time they reached for it.

Never should we discourage a child from asking questions even if those seem silly to us as in his or her mind those are curiosities. We need to address all questions with reasonable explanations understandable by child and if it is something which is not appropriate for that age we should divert attention of child. There are so many ways to do so instead of saying NO or this is not for you leaving the child wondering about unanswered question and trying to find answer from other sources.

As the child grows we need to change our approach too but never in dictatorial way. During school days never put child under pressure to perform as per our satisfaction. Child should be made to understand that it is for his or her good to learn attentively and understand the subject instead of just memorizing it blindly. Encouragement should be given for participation in sports and extra curricle activities. They should be made to understand time management without being ordered to study or do this or do that all the time. Let the child choose own profession. We need to explain pros and cons of each and let the decision be made by the child.

Now comes the difficult phase, pre-teen, teenage and college life. In this phase there is not only curiosity of new pastures or trying to explore new ways of freedom but rebellion too to move away from it is done this way approach of elders. It is not possible to be with them 24 hours of the day. We need to understand that time has come to treat them as friends, of course within limits and make them understand their responsibilities. We need to encourage them to share their feelings and thoughts. I had told our daughter when she joined college “ Now you are moving from uniformed regulated life to different way of life with time at your disposal. Do what your conscience permits you but just understand that whatever you do should not make us hang our heads in shame ever. There may be times when you may feel you have to do something against your wishes or conscience, so just take precautions not to get into that kind of situation.” I am proud to say that she behaved in a very sensible way without any monitoring. And to our son at his entry to college apart from what I told his sister I added “ Never force a girl for anything she does not want to do or never physically or emotionally coerce her to do what she is not willing to.” Again I am happy that he never let us down.

Then comes the marriage time. We should give full liberty to them to choose their soul mate. They should be made to feel confident to share their liking with us. If it is seen that the one chosen lacks something, it should be logically discussed and not forced for change of option. Our children had their own friendships but when time came they both left it to us to look for their would be life partners. But I insisted that they would have to meet our selected one, spending enough time without being chaperoned to make up their mind. I also told our son that the girl he so meets has full right to say no. Well, they are both now settled with children though with normal tiffs off and on. They have to solve their differences themselves with our unbiased support to one who is justified.

Thereafter they should be left to lead life as they want without interference but support as needed. Of course it does not mean that they can do something criminal or unacceptable in normal society for which once again we can only advise or guide logically but can not force our will. In such an event if he or she still continues to follow which is unacceptable, it is time to part company.
That sums up what we have gone through in our time. Now it is grandchildren who make us relive our olden days all over again.


Di said...

hmmmm....raising a kid is definitely in everyones future... so this post was helpful.. thanks for sharing

(ps : my blog is public only. i had changed the settings for a few hrs cuz i was editing something in the blog)

Anonymous said...

I liked this post a lot. Made me realise that my parents have raised me well. :)

Rinkal said...

i really loved it
i am realising some incidents which you have included in this post
you are right that first parents sit without any tension and when really something happens they starts running from here and there with thinking of anything.

if we tell small child or even younger child no they will run to find answer
when sometimes with me only.
i tell my mother let me make this food,i know,she refuses so this what happens with children

the post was very important
i loved it

i am going to write my post and i am selected for national in basketball.

take care
be in contact

ash89 said...

very nice post. I think raising kids is a tough job. Requires just the right amounts of freedom and discipline

sulagna said...

Hi Jack,

been long since i came here,since i was in goa with my in-laws and the whole jing bang.surprisingly i have a 6 year old niece who some time back(feb11th 2008) during the time we got married was a difficult and naughty child..but this time i see a new person..far more composed,well-mannered,obidient and not fussy.

it surprised me how easy it is to mould a child,while i complain about people leaving crumpled newspapers in the house :)

pssss:see now you know my anniversary,so i expect another card like the one i got for diwali :)

Jack said...

DI :

Hope you keep it in mind when time comes. Take care

KI :

Please do keep the tradition and follow it when you come to that stage. Take care


Congratulations on making it to National level. Keep working hard and you will reach International level soon. Take care


You said it right. It is an art to know the right mix of freedom and discipline when raising children. Take care

Jack said...


As I was responding to first 4 comments your comment got posted. So reply now to you. It is not difficult to make a child understand how to conduct but needs patience and tact. WA noted. Please do let me have yours and his DOB so I do not miss out these occassions. Take care

PS : No wonder Goa was in news, as you were there. LOL

Sophia Ali said...

Very thoughtful post Uncle Jack..

My mom raised 3 girls with so much of discipline when dad was abroad...

Lavender said...

I really like the story about the mother who lets her daughter play with the waves.
And yes totally agree with the questions part of it.
When parents discourage kids from asking them what the truth is, they refer to all sort of unreliable sources

Jack said...


Your mother deserves all the praise for giving her best to bring you all up with so much of care. I am sure you understand what she did was for your best. Take care


One needs to be open to children lest they get misguided. Replies to their querries can be as per their age. Take care

workhard said...

Thats a mighty good post.. I guess the parent-children relationship is very important to carve out good ethics in children..

Work from home India

Jack said...


Thanks for such supportive comments.

Take care

Mannu said...

Nice post Jack.
I wish this were a common knowledge at the time of my fomative years. Or even a general social practice, if it were, it would have saved a thouand pains to many cohorts i know.
Manybe we deliver the stuff u describe in your blog when our childrenwill be born. In the meanwhile we ourselves continue to be the suvivors of dark days, when other social paradigm guided our parents.