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Where do we draw the line?

It happened when I was not prepared for it. I certainly was not expecting it. When my daughter first told me that she didn’t need me to come with her. It was for a play date I think. Now it has become routine – at times she is very clear about when she wants to go somewhere without Mamma or Appa chaperoning her. She gets agitated when we insist that we will come. I do realize that this is not about us and I should not feel bad about it.

Where do we draw the line?

She is growing up now, and has a circle of friends that she feels the need to conform to. She does not see many children who are chaperoned around by their parents (like she is) so she feels the need to do the same. Initially it irked me no end – ‘Does this peer pressure thingamajig rear its head up so early?’ I wondered.

There were other things too that got our antennas up. She wanted to get a fringe for her hair. My husband and I were united in our opposition. The choice was hers we told her – either she could grow her hair longer or get a short haircut – no fringes for her.  And that was final. After months of back and forth – she gave up and I think (hope?) understood why we would not allow her a fringe.

Then there is the ubiquitous iPad. Every child seems to have one. My kid doesn’t have it – and I don’t think ever will! This is a difficult one for all of us involved. She goes to homes where other kids play games incessantly on their iPads, where the conversation in school is about ‘high-scores’ in this game or that. Where there are birthday parties themed on iPad games. Oh heck – even the chess teacher uses it as a teaching aid.

My husband and I contemplated on this for a while. This was something that wasn’t going away. And though we were clearly against buying a tablet for our home we could not blame the Kidlet for being curious about it. We thankfully found a solution to it quite simply. I have an iPhone and I did end up downloading a few apps on it for Kidlet. But by virtue of it being my phone – it becomes restricted access to the Kidlet– which is what we wanted all along. She does not feel left out of the iPad conversations and I know that she is not overdoing it. I am not sure if this is ideal – but it works for us.

I sometimes wonder if I am enabling my child to become a conformist. But do I really want her to feel left out like a sore thumb? It was not her decision to study in the city, in a certain school with a certain socio-economic set. However there are certain values and beliefs that I cannot let go of while parenting her. It is a tightrope walk to reconcile the two.

At five years of age, these conflicts are still difficult to resolve. I still drop my child to play dates but let her go in with her minder. I understand that hurting her feelings will not do either of us any good – whilst I am still largely assured of her safety. Many of these calls are taken with a quick cost-benefit analysis. These are few of the questions that I ask myself:

  1. Is it something that conflicts with our values as a family?
  2. Is it something that will endanger her in any way?
  3. Is it something that is really important to her? (tricky to figure out)
  4. Would it have a financial implication? (also viewed with respect to point 1)

I am aware that there are many parents of older children who write at and read ‘Parentous’ and have already been down this path. And it would really help to know their perspective on this issue. Where is it that you draw the line and when is it that you agree to bend the rules?

Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai. With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. On Twitter, you can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom