This was before our elder was born, I had to visit US for about 3 weeks and my boss had called me to check if I would be ok to stay with him and his family instead of a hotel. Initially I was reluctant, but when he told me that the only hotel available near our office did not have dining facility and I will have to drive 7 miles for every meal, it quickly ended the conversation.
Staying with Bill and family was a very unique experience for me. They had two daughters Pam and Becky. It was my first experience of staying with Americans at such close quarters. Though I have been working for US companies for most of my career, living with real Americans in their home was a totally different experience.
Bill and family lived in a huge house in a suburb. I was given the guest room on ground floor, while the family lived in two rooms upstairs. There was a small vegetable patch in the backyard next to a huge pool. The most interesting thing was, to see the family interact and work as a team. (Nothing Hollywood kinds here).
Every member of the family had a responsibility and contributed to work in the family. Even the 3-year-old Pam was entrusted with setting the table mats on the table before dinner time. Becky watered the plants and helped her father in cleaning and covering the pool in evening to conserve solar heat in water. Though these kids enjoyed their kidsee moments I found them more matured and independent than kids in India of same age. Even the parents expected kids to take care of themselves compared to mom running after kid for everything.
Since, the domestic help in US is very expensive, everybody contributes to house hold chores. When I compare the same with my own childhood in India, I find that everything is taken for granted and our poor mothers slog from morning till evening. I am not proud of this, but the fact is we siblings were a rotten lot and never allowed our mother to sit idle even for a moment.
I do not want to generalise anything, but I find that most of the Indian families pamper their kids much more than required. Mind you, the small tasks that these little girls, Pam and Becky, did were not laborious or show stoppers, but they had a sense of pride and a bonding for the family. Their mom considered it important, along with studies, for the kids to be responsible for their own stuff like preparing school bag, keeping their shoes in shoe rack, etc.
Our elder daughter regularly helps her mother in small things on weekends, but we are still far away from giving her more responsibilities. The younger one is now learning to keep her toys back in their place after playing with them. Sometimes guests feel that we are forcing our kids to do things that a maid should do and we should just focus on their studies as they will learn these things on their own later in life. But we are very clear that it is never too early to become independent.
Let me ask this to my fellow parent-friends, How many of you arrange your kids’ shoes and toys who are 4 years and above? Or your kid knows that this is his/her responsibility (replace the this with any age appropriate task).
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 an entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, traveler and a potential investor in start-ups with unique concepts especially if they are in travel related business. He blogs at Desi Traveler, and can be reached at Facebook and Twitter.