There is a whole lot of a difference between what we got as children then and what we give our children right now.
Some time ago, we were at our friend’s place when a discussion on this topic cropped up. When we kept reminiscing our past comparing it to the parents we have turned out to be, both the husbands were unanimous about one big point, which they refused to take back at any cost. That, they would provide their children with all the material belongings and smaller pleasures of life which they were deprived of by their parents. It could have been for reasons ranging from the child’s own well-being to the parents’ financial pressures. I kind of got their viewpoint but was more worried about the children’s future.
The children would invariably end up thinking they would get whatever they asked for – notwithstanding there being a need for the possession. But again, denying them of the stuff would have its own share of repercussions as well. I’d like to illustrate this with an example. The perfect example in this case would be the irresistible children thingie – the video game. Lets tackle it point by point.
Okay.. We assume that there is no need for the product at all. But, that it is up for grabs in the market selling like hot cakes just proves how ‘needed’ it is. So, we shut our eyes (and our minds!) and heed to the husband and purchase the in-thing – A brand new Nintendo Wii. What’s the use of buying it and not let them use it? The husband who has not had his childhood pleasures during his early life, tries to have his share now, accompanied by the kids. Slowly, the prized possession takes over a major chunk of our lives, which eventually leads to its inseparability from us (read as, addiction!)
Now, the second scenario is where the husband, this time around lets the wife do the talking. No video game entering the house at any cost orders the wife. What does the child do, then? Moves over to his neighbours and friends, watch them helplessly as they show-off their brand new gadgets and come back home bullied by his mates and ends up being frustrated at his parents.
As parents, we are in a fix. To buy or not to buy? It is like choosing between the devil and the deep sea.
So, how did our parents attack this problem? As far as my memory goes, my parents did neither of the two. We got everything that we wanted. Right from expensive chocolates to high-priced clothing to novel technology – we got them as and when asked for. But also made sure they had the ‘conditions apply’ tag on each of them. Chocolates – Not more than 1 piece per day. Television – should be switched off by nine at night at any cost. Clothing – restricted to a maximum of ten sets at any point in time because we had our uniforms, on five days a week. Mobile phones – limits on prepaid credits set well ahead of the purchase of the instrument. Mario & Tetris – not more than half an hour a day. We had them all but rationed big time, conveniently to suit both of us.
There was also one other thing my mother did or at least tried doing as we started growing up. Explaining to us how dad and she made money for each of the stuff we asked for. ‘I am getting the jewels pledged for purchasing the computer until we get funds to be released from the employer!’ Oh yes! It was plain ‘rotation of money’ but she would have to part with her jewels for that much time to have the computer bought. Believe me, there is this helpless feeling and it hurts. Big time. All this would be put in black and white before me when I was as young(?) as fourteen years of age. There have been times when I’ve accompanied my mother to her work-place occasionally, and witnessed the kind of stress she undergoes, to make up for the bread we eat daily. When we become aware of the stuff our parents do to make us happy, we think twice before demanding any commodity (wanted or unwanted) from them.
But the real question is whether we would be able to draw the line of best fit every time around without hurting the sentiments of the kids and that, which also serves our purpose? Or rather, will we ever have the knack of a convenient compromise like our parents did? That, only time will tell! 🙂
Indu is a dreamer by nature; a (former) chartered accountant by profession; and a writer by passion. Her life right now, revolves around her four year old twin boy and girl. The two naughty siblings love to play their pranks on her every day, making her both smile and wince at once. She loves to leave a trail of her life at her blog.