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Benign Negligence.

Laid Back parenting style

Our parents stumbled into parenthood and then bumbled their way through it. For the most part, they left us to our own devices and we were free to live our lives as we pleased. Food, clothing, shelter, and education was their domain and the allocation was done fairly and to the best of their ability. School reports were signed with a desultory hand and a bad report card evinced half-hearted whacks followed by ice cream. No one directed us on how to gainfully use our time. If we were bored, we had to overcome the ennui without parental guidance. We learnt to cycle by renting badly maintained cycles by the half-hour. We fell often, and we washed our knees with plain water and started all over again. Often, our afternoon snacks consisted of unwashed raw mangoes, garnished with salt and chilly powder. All the tastier because they were plucked from the neighbouring compound. We invented board games and co-authored books. We went for long walks and visited public libraries to read the latest Mandrake or Bahadur comics. We started our own libraries, which closed down in a week and sold lemonade to the indulgent Uncles and Aunties of the society. If we squabbled with our friends, we had to find a resolution without adult interference. We experimented with unusual foods and rescued stray dogs. We collected rocks and pressed leaves. All within the peripheral vision of our parents. Without being actively aware, they sowed in us seeds of resilience and intrepidity which have held us in good stead. We learnt to push boundaries, build self-belief and look failure in the eye. We mastered Time and put it to good use. We fell down, but we picked ourselves because our parents were occupied otherwise. Is it possible to over parent?

Children today are bereft of that clement neglect. Every moment of a child's life is put to 'optimal' use. His hobbies are preordained, his friendships are filtered and his leisure is monitored. His clothes are coordinated, his hands are sanitised and his diet is supervised. His demands are preempted, his desires assumed. His self-belief is never confronted, his creativity lays dormant and his imagination is shackled by Temple Run. In the desire to be best friends with our kids, we are eroding the skills needed to build long-lasting, nurturing relations with outsiders. Our need to protect overpowers the child's need to prospect. The more we hover, the more they will submit when faced with unexpected situations. Benign Neglect is my favourite oxymoron. Right next to Definite Possibility. Of the child turning alright despite our Regular Interventions. Or our Lame Efforts. But for the child to be joyful while he is growing up, we need to turn a Blind Eye to the process of metamorphosis. The caterpillar will surely turn into a butterfly. And just as its struggles readies the solitary pupa to face the world and the wind, our children will harden and strengthen to face the sound and the fury of Life. Give them a chance. Leave them alone.

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