Twinkle Khanna talks about – The great Indian parents, and their one-tight-slap style
Here’s what Twinkle Khanna has to say about this very Indian style of parenting.
11 am: Enjoying a lazy Saturday morning with my sister-in-law and some lemongrass tea. I show her a clip of Donald Trump at a press conference where he says, ‘You know what uranium is right? This thing called nuclear weapons and other things, like lots of things are done with uranium including some bad things.’
I smirk, ‘Don’t want to make a big thing about this but this thing here is what happens when you don’t know the first thing about things.’
2 pm: An old friend comes over for lunch with her son. She runs a rather successful export business and halfway through our meal, she says, ‘God knows what will happen to America. Along with his immigrant ban, Trump is also busy tweeting about his daughter’s tacky dresses and accessories being dropped. Last week, he posted, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing!”
The prodigal son sitting on the other end of the dining table, chips in, ‘You know mom, Trump would have never said this if he was an Indian parent!’
Looking at our perplexed faces, he adds, ‘First of all, you guys wouldn’t refer to your child as ‘a great person’ because of some ‘evil eye’ business. All Indian parents believe that if they say, “Oh my son is so smart!” then from the skies above, nazar with a guidance missile attached will nosedive towards him and shatter his skull. And how can your child ever push you to do the right thing when you parents are always right and everything we do is wrong.’
My friend’s son, his mouth filled with biryani, adds, ‘Also, if he was Indian then the first thing he would have done would have been to compare his daughter to someone else’s daughter, like maybe wondering why Ivanka can’t be more like Malia Obama.’
And when his mother gives him a steely look, he adds, ‘Yes mom, all of you do this. Don’t you say, “Why can’t you be like Abhay? He is so polite!”
The prodigal son nods enthusiastically, ‘And also Ivanka would be called Ivu! What’s with all the embarrassing nicknames!’ Considering I call the prodigal son, Aru and my friend calls her son Golu, this is not an entirely unfounded accusation.
The two kids really seem to be enjoying ripping into their parents and the prodigal son goes on, ‘And the threats that you guys keep making, “I will give you a tight slap now!” What does that mean, mom? Otherwise would you give me a loose one, just flapping your hand around my face? And that famous countdown, “That’s it, you come here now, or you see what will happen, I am counting, bas 1, 2 and the last one is 3.”‘
I snap at the prodigal son, ‘Alright! Stop it now otherwise you are really going to get it from me!’
5 pm: Pruning my pest-infested eggplant saplings, I think about what the kids said about us controlling Indian parents, in jest perhaps, but wrapped in that is a nugget of truth.
Most Indians tend to follow the authoritarian style of parenting making children follow the rules unquestioningly while permissive parents let their kids do whatever they want. Somewhere in between are the authoritative parents who explain the reasoning behind the rules, are willing to negotiate a little when setting limits and also use more positive reinforcement. Research states that the third way is ideal for raising happy well-adjusted individuals. I guess we all have to look inward to see which side we’re leaning on.
8 pm: The man of the house is watching the news that seems to be filled only with chatter about the UP elections and Akhilesh Yadav.
I tell him about what the children were saying and ask, ‘What do you think your parenting style is? I think it’s authoritative, and sometimes even permissive!’
Glued to the television screen, he says, ‘Meri maa, I can’t think so much right now, it is whatever you give it permission to be!’
I continue, ‘You know, our son is right about this pet name business too. We go through Sanskrit tomes, consult astrologers and after grave contemplation decide on an illustrious sounding name for our offspring, but the moment the umbilical cord is cut, the name immediately changes to ‘Aru’ or ‘Pintu’ or something like that. Look at Akhilesh, such an imperial sounding name but guess what his father calls him, Tipu! Listen, didn’t the father and son fall out recently?’
The man of the house says, ‘They seem to have made up. I just read an interview where Mulayam Singh was asked about Akhilesh’s work as CM, and he replied, “Akhilesh always does good work, after all he is my son.”‘
I say, ‘I guess with that answer he gave himself a pat on the back along with on his loins.’
I wonder if during their tiff, Mulayam told his son, “Arrey Tipu look at Lalu Prasad’s son Tej, that boy knows the meaning of respect, why can’t you be more like him?’
On the screen in front of us a montage of Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi waving to the crowd from a truck pops up and I laugh, ‘But I bet he didn’t say, “Tipu, why can’t you be more like Pappu?”
The man of the house sighs, ‘Why can’t you be like the phone in my pocket right now?’
I giggle, ‘What? Stuck to your thigh?’
He says, ‘No! Just on the Do Not Disturb mode!’