Monday, January 09, 2012

Defending other people's choices.

When bringing up an impressionable child, there are times when you are faced with not just defending your own choices to the child, but also explaining other people's choices.  And this has to be done without putting the other people in a bad light. 

Puttachi: Amma, X gave me XYZ chips today.  He told me that he will ask his mother to buy me a pack too.

Me: Puttachi, there is a reason why I don't buy XYZ for you.  It contains a harmful substance (MSG) which is bad for everybody, especially for small children.

She: Then why does X's mother buy it for him?

Me: Perhaps she doesn't know that XYZ chips contains that. 

She: Or perhaps she doesn't know it is bad for health.

Me: Perhaps.

She:  Then you should call her up and tell her, Amma, that it is bad.

That is the logical thing that will occur to a child.  But how can I handle this?  I really have no answer.

Another situation:

Puttachi:  Amma, Y's mother lets her eat a whole pack of chips at one go.  Why don't you allow me?

Me:  Puttachi, I believe that too many chips at once is bad for you.  If you eat only a few chips, you will have enough space in your tummy to eat healthy food.  And you know that chips don't have anything that will help your body be strong and healthy. 

She: Then why does Y's mother let her eat so much?

Me:  Puttachi, just like different people have different likes and dislikes, different people have different beliefs.  Some think it is okay to eat a whole pack of chips at one go, but I don't.  See, B's mother doesn't let her play in the sand, but I think it is okay.  It is just a matter of what one believes. 

She: (I'm sure, wishing that her mother had a different set of beliefs)  Okay Amma. But I can eat a few chips, can't I?

Me: Of course, dear.

I will not be surprised at all if she goes and gives Y's mother a lecture next time.  But that is not in my hands.

How do you defend other people's choices?  Or do you?

14 comments:

Anamika said...

Now I am curious which XYZ chips you are talking about!

Abhipraya said...

Oh this is a constant battle out here. Every morning when Miss T gets into the van she asks for gems. Why? Because all other kids have been 'bribed' with gems to get into the school van. My solution? I give her and her friends raisins. I don't know what else to do!

cherubic_chipmunk said...

Hey,Shruthi,firstly a very happy new year! Been long since I paid a visit to this place...
Now,I don't have a generic solution to this problem nor have I been in this situation before but would like to quote an anecdote...
I was 6 or 7 years old and we had this subject called 'Moral and Health Sciences' back then...My mother had just taught me a lesson from the text book on it a couple of days back, which highlighted the ill-effects of smoking and drinking...I particularly remember her teaching me that smoking is like slow poison and those who smoke die early...
A few days later, we had a new set of neighbours...I'd gone to their home and after witnessing the man of the home smoking, I'd instantaneously screamed from their home loud enough for my mum to hear Amma, Kripa oda appa cigarette smoke panraaru, seekrama sethu poiduvaara? :D As you rightly say, these formative years can be very impressionable for the child and infusing the right set of values does matter a lot! To my credit, I haven't smoked a cigarette despite having worked for a tobacco company :) I'm proud of it and I have only my mum to thank!
I know this is a bit of a digression and does sound simplistic but still felt like sharing!
In this age of liberalization, where moral policing is such a huge issue, I feel it's all the more important to have a conversation with the kid as early as possible about all what you consider the evils of the society - no wonder they call these the formative years!
Love to Puttachi :)

Shruthi said...

Anamika, could be any of them. Just check the next time you pick a pack of chips off the shelf :)

Abhipraya, exactly. My daughter wants to take a box full of such unhealthy goodies to eat on the van because others do too. I send her fruits and nuts :)

Cherubic_chipmunk, lol! I don't know Tamil that well, but I could figure out the essence of what you said. Seriously, we need more outspoken kids like that!

rajk said...

Hey Shruthi, I think you are responding in the best possible way. Down the line, as you say, Puttachi may find her own way to deal with her questions. :-)

Radhika said...

That’s the best part of being child. No inhibitions to express themselves.
My daughter says person A is cruel because they’re killing animals as they’re non-vegetarians!
It takes bit of effort to prevent her from expressing this in front of non-vegetarian friends for that matter.
While as adults our domain is small, a child thinks in a big way, it has bigger perspective. So expects any rule/caution should be followed by all 

Nithya said...

Same situation here,Shruthi. I defend other people’s choice in the same way that you do, that each one thinks what is right or wrong in their own different ways. My daughter has even lectured her friend’s grandpa that he shouldn’t be getting her friend chocolates as they will bring ‘germs’ in his mouth :)
She also questions me as to why I keep a ‘round’ bindi for her and why her friend’s mom puts a ‘line’(tilak) bindi for her friend. It is better to think twice before answering any of their questions as they hold on to the explanation we give them as long as their impressionable minds will let them.

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cherubic_chipmunk said...

Oops! Yea well, the intention in leaving it untranslated was that the essence could be figured easily...In any case,
"Amma, Kripa oda appa cigarette smoke panraaru, seekrama sethu poiduvaara?" crudely translates to "Amma,Kripa's dad is a smoker - Will he die early?"
Kindly let the readers know how you intend resolving (or broadly addressing) the issue of defending other people's choices (If you intend to,that is) :-)

Sumana said...

Such a thoughtful post Shruthi. This is the problem in our household everyday with 2 kids i tell you. My daughter comes up telling me that X, Y, Z play till 7.30pm and you ask me to be back by 7. Son says my friend gets Kinderjoy (chocolate) everyday to school and you do not give me. Reasoning out with the kids help me to a certain bit but some days they just don't listen.

Shruthi said...

Rajk, I hope so! and until then.... :)

Radhika, you've mentioned something very pertinent. Children don't have grey areas, everything is black and white. And what holds good for one person must hold good for everybody. And I empathize with you totally over this non-veg issue :))

Nithya, exactly. Once something goes into their heads, it gets etched. So difficult to weigh each word before we speak!

Cherubic chipmunk, that is about it - the way I've done in my post. I'll deal with the bigger issues as I come to them :)

Sumana, that is exactly the kind of pressure I'm talking about. It is not easy at all!

parijata said...

Oh, I understand this! Really.
Last night, my son told me that the other kids got noodles for lunch; that he also *needed* that in his lunchbox. And as another said, his friends play till 7:30 but I want him home by 7 PM. How do I enforce it?

And the less said about my daughter, the better. Apparently a classmate of hers has her nails painted, and this one wants it too. I am of the firm opinion that girls should not use anything other than moisturizer and kajal, and may be talcum powder till they are 18 years old. But how can I convince my daughter without making the other Mom look bad?

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azduilawyer said...

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