Nikita talks about the pros and cons of raising a child in India vis-à-vis the US (and other western countries). Read more in the regular column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Our world comprises of cultures, values, belief systems, and ideologies of over seven billion people. We can all learn something from each other. I have been raised in India and I can say that India provides a morally and culturally enriching atmosphere for children. There is immense importance given to values. Elders should and must be respected. Diverse cultural heritage teaches every child to respect other people’s way of worshipping the God. There is a tradition of celebrating little things, as grandly as possible. Every country has its own pros and cons of raising a child; let us understand what it actually means to raise a child in India.
- Raising a boy is far more difficult than raising a girl in India
Mostly, it is socially acceptable for boys to be rude and undisciplined. They are not taught how to take care of themselves. Somebody is always there to babysit them all their lives. Boys are kept out of all household chores. Girls, on the other hand, should learn all skills under the sky. They learn how to cook, clean, dance, sing, paint, and earn money for themselves.
- Full-time Nannies are affordable
Most of the middle and upper-class Indian families hire a full-time nanny or ayah whether or not both parents are working. Only the poorest children roam around in the streets alone. It is uncommon to take children along when running errands or going to dinner. Indian families have a separate quarter for nannies in their own homes. The role of the ayah is such a cultural norm here that annual membership to the local children’s museum includes three adult passes—two for the parents and one for the ayah. In Indian families, it is a long-term relationship—your ayah becomes part of your family.
- Children are not isolated individuals in India
In the West, children are often isolated from the outside world. For the first few years, it is only parents and the child. On the contrary, Indian families have housekeepers who visit home every day to clean the house, do laundry, or wash dishes. Neighbors and relatives are extremely affectionate towards the child and readily offer help in bringing up the child. This also makes Indian children extremely dependent for their life decisions on elders.
- Family beds are a common thing
In a country where space comes at such a premium, few parents would dream of allocating a separate room for each child. Co-sleeping is the norm here, regardless of class. Children will usually sleep with their parents or their ayah until they are at least six or seven. The young children from middle class sleep with their parents even if it gets late.
- Birth class is like talking about aliens
In the West, even before the birth of the child, the parents get together and attend birthing classes. They learn ways to cope with the labour process like Lamaze breathing etc. The husbands are coached on how to help the wife in the delivery room, how to diaper and swaddle a newborn, among other things. Birth Class for parents is a very uncommon scenario in India. Most of the couples live with their parents and they are offered free advice on how to bring up a child. Bringing up a child is considered largely a woman’s job. Fathers who make an effort are appreciated as if they just put stars in the sky. Talking about sex is still a taboo in the country where Kama Sutra originated.
- Daddies stay out of the delivery room
In the US, it is mandatory that the husband or anyone has chosen by the pregnant woman accompany them during delivery. There are weird reasons why men refrain from being with their wives during the birth of the child. Some could not bear the sight of the blood or their partners in extreme pain. Others are trapped in “what would other people think” syndrome. In some cases, the hospital denies the permission to a father or any other family member to enter the delivery room.
- It is against the law to find out the sex of your baby
Well, it is for good in a country like India where there is a preference for a baby boy. Many people would opt for abortion when they come to know about the child being a girl. This law is to prevent couples from ending their pregnancies after knowing the sex of the child.
- There are no strict rules to raise a child in India
In the West, children are fed at the same time every day, put down to the bed same time etc. It is an Indian thing to “feed the child.” They are fed with hands even until they turn four or five. In the US, kids are plonked on the high chair and left to feed them. It is messy at first, but soon children become efficient at eating.
- Emphasis on Independence
There is a lot of emphasis on making children more independent in the US. Children are taught how to eat, sleep, and wear their own clothes since an early age. They are expected to do household chores as they grow up a little. They are encouraged to make their own pocket money. If the kids continue to stay with parents after 18 years of age, they must pitch in home expenses or pay rent. In India, it would be a nightmare for parents to charge kids for staying with them. The payback is in other forms.
- Minimal planning for the child
Most of the pregnancies in India are unplanned. Unlike West, where there is a lot of order, structure and advice on how things would go even before the couple are married. Vacations are planned months in advance. Day Care schedules activities for the complete year. Summer Camps and Christmas Holidays are planned for years. In India, we largely fly by the seat of our pants.
Photos sourced by the author from the Internet.
#Children #Birthing #DifferenceOfChildRearing #CulturalDifference #BringingUpChildren #Relationships #DifferentTruths
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