Racism or just poor parenting?

I have this tendency to view any conflict that involves more than one ethnic group as a racial problem.

It’s time for me to reconsider my point of view. It’s not about race at all; it’s about really poor parenting.


  • When you see youngsters misbehave at malls.
  • When they bully you off your lane on the road.
  • When they are rude to their nannies.
  • When they show no respect for their teachers.
  • When they mock waitresses at the cafe.
  • When you see their girl-fridays walking five steps behind them, to carry the tiny bag of cosmetics from Sephora.
  • When you see their maids come up to the office floor to carry their Louis Vuitton handbag to the waiting car.
  • When they jump queues and refuse to wait their turn.
  • When they push past you without an ‘excuse me’ or ‘sorry’.
  • When they walk through the door you hold open for them, without a ‘thank you’.
  • When they demand service, because ‘please’ is an ugly word.
  • When they leave the public toilet messy, because they can’t clean up after themselves.
  • OR When they think it’s ok to punch a doctor…

When you see this, and when you see some more, remember there is a set of parents responsible for that out-of-control, badly behaved girl or boy.

A mother and a father who failed to correct their child and to set a good example.

Parents who failed to understand that the ‘cute’ (right!) brats who misbehaved with impunity, would grow up to be thugs.

Men and women who think procreation is the beginning and end of being a parent.

Parents who are oblivious to the HUGE influence they have on their children — be it good, bad, or (increasingly) ugly.

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” — Robert Fulghum

The surprise that wasn’t, yet was

Be warned! This is a mommy-pride post.

It’s the cutest surprise party I could have asked for. Mainly because, the party itself was no surprise. It’s been in the making for over 3 months, and was held last evening a month after the original schedule.

It was a ‘late’ birthday surprise for me and N (by 1 month and by 4 days respectively).

The party-throwers were O my first born, and her bestie S (who O befriended when they were just 3). Their friend Z was the designated DJ. To do the driving around, R was roped in. My cuz and his wife were the delivery boy/girl.

And so came about the funnest birthday party I’ve had.

It was no surprise because O can’t keep a secret from me; also they needed my help to download songs for which they were to dance, and my permission for the many sleepovers that were required for the practice.

So I did think I knew it all… and that I would pretend to be surprised all the same.

I was banished to the bedroom from 1-5.30 p.m. when the first guests arrived. They even got Nilah ready.

It wouldn’t suffice to say that I was totally stunned by the amazing planning the two 10-year-olds managed. I WAS surprised.

From costumes, the stopgap green room (mismatched sheets over the cupboard), the menu (some of which they made themselves), the decoration for O’s room, that was converted to a stage… and the invite. I wish I could share the invite… Pictures of me, of Nilah, of both of us, and the whole family, with the sweetest post scripts and captions, all put together on smilebox, and sent out to my friends (most of whom did manage to land up).

The dances, the little skit, and how they even managed to ignore the two pesky brats who were getting in their way.

Is this how smoking pot feels? Light, floaty, happy, and at the same time your heart is so heavy and crunched up, you feel you can’t quite breathe?

I didn’t get a chance to hug O (and S) tight enough to thank them, because they managed to use the good mood of all 4 parents on the scene to sneak off to another sleepover.

I am so grateful for the people in my life. So GRATEFUL.

And here are some pics. Not of great quality, as taken on the mobile and the room was ill-lit.

hot or g?

O (looking shocked and disapproving): Amma, A has a hotmail!

Me: Ok.

O: Amma, but she is only my age. I told her children can’t have hotmail and facebook, only gmail.

Wonder when she will find a meaning for G!

sneaky or smart?

O: I am so excited I can finally borrow a book from the school library tomorrow.

Me: Great.

O: There is this book I want to borrow on dragons, and I hide it in a different shelf everyday, in such a way you can’t see the name. So no one else can take it. Smart no?

I didn’t have the heart to tick her off…



I read this article that resonated with me at so many levels.
I know O and N have a lot more ‘things’ and more of their parents’ attention/time than I did as a child. When it comes to ‘things’ however, they don’t have as much as their peer group.

N has a box of toys and drawer of books.

O has a lot more. She has a shelf overflowing with books, not many toys (because she is not much into it), she has one game console, a bunch of boardgames, and we take her out to play at every opportunity, either with her friends or alone. Movies, park, ice skating, bookstore, play areas.

Now this seems like more than sufficient to me. But NOT, if I were to be influenced by peer pressure.

It’s not that the kids with plenty are particularly spoilt – a lot of them are not. I talk about this piece, not to point fingers, but only because validates what R & I do as parents — after all, we are needy creatures.

Here is what caught my fancy the most:

“…if your child rarely has to wait between “I want it” and “I have it,” then he may be missing out on the chance to develop the emotional tools he’ll need to be a happy and successful adult.”

What I do is save the big purchases for an occasion. Birthday, Christmas, Diwali and a few special treats. That doesn’t stop O from demanding stuff that her friends have. However, by now she knows she is not going to get EVERYTHING.


“We often try to compensate for what we didn’t have as children, to assure ourselves that our children love us, or to make up for any parental guilt we feel,” says Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., author of Spoiling Childhood: How Well-Meaning Parents Are Giving Children Too Much — But Not What They Need.

Guilty, to a degree. It’s more about quality time. Because my family was large, and always had random relatives living with us, we didn’t get individual attention. We didn’t have too many outings to movies or restaurants. We had regular vacations though (thanks to the LTC facility my dad was eligible for).

So I drive myself crazy trying to get quality into time.

But I don’t really remember wanting much. We always had plenty to read. My favourite toys were ‘choppus’ — cheap and easily available, so had plenty of that too (yeah, and then I grew up to HATE housework and cooking). My mum sewed beautifully, so I always had trendy frocks and tops. So I don’t really feel a great need to over-compensate.


“Parents have this illusion that if they give their children the reason why they can’t do what they want, the child will stop wanting it, and as far as I know, that has never happened in the history of parenting!” says Nancy Samalin, a parenting educator and author of Loving Without Spoiling.

A survey by the Center for a New American Dream found that kids will ask for something an average of nine times before the parents cave. So stay strong and repeat your simple “no” on the ninth, tenth, and eleventh entreaty. Eventually, your child will realize that her attempts are futile, and she’ll move on.

I always fall into that trap (R doesn’t, wise guy). I explain and reason and argue. And then I SCREAM. We never reach the ‘ninth’ request.


“But all the other kids have one!” Unfortunately, there is no magical response that will definitively shoot this argument down, but there are a couple of strategies that can be successful.

What works like magic for me is simple: “Do I compare you with other kids? Do I ask you to do what they do? Then don’t talk about what they get but you don’t; what they don’t have to do, but you must.”


But if there is no wait, no period of dreaming about it, the thrill is often less intense. “When kids are accustomed to getting things right away, nothing excites them anymore,” says Steven Friedfeld, a family therapist.

So true. When I buy her a bunch of books at a time, she would not pay attention to any one in particular. Or the fact that I entertain her friends and her almost every weekend is taken for granted—even when many other parents don’t do that.

Read the full article here.