Wednesday, December 26, 2007

US up-bringing

This is a response to Aparna's blog about values in life to which I couldn't have agreed more. In fact, I always have realized that the kids here in US have several qualities that are almost non-existent in kids back in India.

1. They grow up to be more self-responsible due to the social structure of self-reliance after 18 years of age. Most of them start working and earning something by the end of their teens. I am impressed by the concept of trying to fund one's own undergraduate education with one's own penny; even though it often involves taking student loans- still it makes them self-responsible.

2. They don't suffer from the "I am a rich parents' kid" syndrome: dignity of labor is utmost. Most of my American friends I have seen, started working in some Mc Donald's or Subway: not because their parents did not have enough money; but because the joy of earning one's own dollar is marvellous!

3. I also have seen them cherish the ability to respect independent and variegated career decisions. I have often seen them to respect a History major person even if he or she is doing Physics.

I would always want my kids to grow up in US: despite the common desi notion that kids here lack parental attachment. I disagree, because kids in India often get entangled into parents' never-terminating pamper, which I think is not a great idea for development of the kid's personality. Hunting and accruing one's own identity, being able to take one's own decisions and the realization of the necessity to be self-dependent is very important. And then, after all, values begin at home: if I am able to impart the right education to kids about moral values, the topographical coordinates on Earth just wouldn't matter any more!

Nevertheless, there are always light and shades to both sides of the coin! Upbringing of kids in US has also its short-comings: the vulnerability to get into bad habits (e.g. smoking, drinking at an inappropriate age, doping etc) and more. But what I have learned looking at the manner I was brought up and several other friends and acquaintances of mine both in India and US, that culturing the right set of values begins at home. Being parents whether in US or in India is never an easier task! Yet, the first and the last education begin at home...


Aparna Kar said...

"Hunting and accruing one's own identity, being able to take one's own decisions and the realization of the necessity to be self-dependent is very important"
I loved the way you have captured the essence of education in this one sentence. Only myopic parents gloat as long as their wards fetch high grades. Real education, a preparation for life, is not confined to textual knowledge. At the end, it is always how you can deal with a person on an one-to-one basis. I am not ashamed to say that I grew up in a pretty protected environment during my school days back home. When I joined junior college, it was freedom bestowed upon me out of necessity and for the obvious reason that I was away from home- I had to make my own judgement, choose my friends/ food/ attire. Every little thing was my own decision. There was peer pressure but I soon cultivated my own taste.There is an innate like/dislike factor in everyone which forms your habits initially. A more mature personality also takes note of what is appropiate/inappropiate. For example, if you like to drink wine and you are offered in a family gathering, you might refuse , not to offend some conservative elders. N.B My father is an exception though, it's just a generic example of the typical Indian culture.

The other day, we were having a discussion with my uncles- why my younger maternal uncle still smokes in the stealth i.e in absence of my elder maternal uncle. I opined that in our culture, self indulgence is looked down upon as a crime. Can you believe that drinking tea was considered sinful in older days? ( watch : Chokhher Baali)

People in US value individual freedom more. And it works for them. It is not a wonder they choose to work when they are in their late teens.It gives them the freedom and dignity to spend their own money and in a way plays a crucial role in "preparing for a lifetime" I mentioned before.

Anyways, values or education- whatever you may call it, in any geographic region is not complete until it is holistic. A nobel prize winner with no basic courtesy is not educated acc. to me. I might sound strange but that is how I view it. How you or I choose to educate our kids after a few years is partially in our hands. They will be what they want to be- and I would rather have it that way. I hope they will make their own decisions- some right and a few wrong. But learning all the while. And teaching me a few things too. But that's remote future. Let's learn a few things from my peers first. Nice thoughts. thanks for sharing :)

Munmun said...

@ Aparna,
Great! I agree with you :)

"A nobel prize winner with no basic courtesy is not educated acc. to me"

Yes! Learning doesn't come from accolades or degrees: it's an experience that refines with time more and more :)