The Parenting Lakshman Rekha

Note for readers: OK, I am talking to myself in this post, but you are welcome to eavesdrop and even join the conversation.


I was reading about one of the many articles online about Sundar Pichai’s rise to be CEO of one of the biggest tech companies in the world Google. That Mr. Pichai is a highly talented, hardworking executive and comes with impeccable qualifications from some of the best universities in both India and US is a well known fact. But one of the articles that caught my attention was about his family background. Coming from a normal middle class Indian family the story delves into how his parents had a scooter, and they lived in a small house and how the parents sacrificed their personal comfort etc. so that Sundar could get the best of environment and comfort to focus on studies.

Needless to say it is a very inspiring story and we see many examples around us in our family, neighborhood where our parent’s generation (including mine) sacrifice for children. Their dreams and aspirations take a backseat to their young ones’ dreams. Not many people will remember the Balraj Sahni movie “Garam Coat”, meaning – Warm Coat, which showed the struggles of post independence middle class. But what I remember from the movie is how the family patriarch tries everything to provide for his family.

In both the movie and in case of Mr. Pichai one thing is common the kids at some stage understood the sacrifices of the parents and worked hard to make them proud. Not much has changed today as far as Indian parenting goes, we see parents around us making sure that kids are studying well going to various coaching classes ranging from Tennis to Abacus, to ensure that kids are groomed to be multi talented. This all is wonderful but there is another well known trend around and the sacrifices of parents are reaching the other end, and if you look at them rationally they are not sacrifices but over indulgence.

I understand that in today’s connected world cell phones and other gizmos play a very important role, but I am not sure if it is necessary to give a kid a cell phone worth 50 grands. The kid has no idea the worth of the phone and for him it is another toy. The logic normally give by the parents is – “I don’t want him to long for things like I did”.

I am unable to understand this logic, but the peer pressure is something that is hard to resist and a lot of time the expensive toys are a way to overcome guilt of not spending enough time with the kids. In our daughter’s school and our housing society it is not unusual to see kids flaunting cell phones worth Rs. 50,000. I have never been able to understand this trend. When I was about 3 or 4 year old a gold chain in my neck was snatched leaving severe bruises. Today the gold chain is replaced by a Rs. 50,000 phone in hand of a 12 year old kid in our neighborhood, and I do wonder if the parents are putting their kids in some kind of unseen danger by giving such expensive toys.

May be I am old fashioned and may be this topic has been written many times here on Parentous, but this is something I am unable to find a solution. Where do you draw the Parenting Lakshman Rekha where your sacrifices do not lead to over indulgence of kids? May be a lot of parents around us do not have to make any sacrifices as they are both working and flush with funds. But don’t you think spending some time with your kids and giving them some values is better than giving them some valuables? What do you say, as father of growing kids living in a nuclear family both me and wife jee are learning every day.

Do share your thoughts where you draw the Lakshman Rekha is based on a monetary value or is it based on some other value system that you have.

Sasha and Prasad Np are proud parents of 2 girls whom they fondly call Princess and Pinkette. He wears many hats after taking a break from being corner office critter for a long time. He is now entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, traveler and an investor in startups with unique concepts. He blogs at DesiTraveler and can be reached on Facebook and Twitter.