Monday, June 23, 2014

Over protection and segregation

I was talking to the coordinator at an Indian school where I conduct once a week Sexuality and Personal Safety group sessions, for children. I was there to give them an idea of what the content of the sessions would be? While I was briefing them about it, I could see their discomfort about using medical terms for our body parts, during my group sessions. One of the coordinators said that we have raised our children in a protective environment and do not wish to expose them to this terminology. I explained my perspective to her and we found a workable compromise.

Another incident which stood out for me happened only a few days later. A European friend told me about her Indian neighbours who did not allow their kids to mingle with the Americans, because they did not want their kids exposed to western influences!!

Both of these conversations got me thinking. I have lived in India for the most part of my life and have seen similar attitudes being fostered in families around me. But, is this the right way of bringing up our children? Is holding on to our traditional thoughts and deeds, the only way to inculcate good values in our child.

Underexposing and (over)protecting the child from matters of sexual safety, in the name of protecting them from dirty and pornographic expression that is incongruent with our ancient traditions, could mean exposing them to far more harm than any parent could ever be prepared for.

Will racial segregation help our kids or really prove detrimental to being global citizens......because like it or not, that is the way forward. Even if I ignore this almost blatant discrimination policy of raising our children, this kind of segregation will make our children unaware of what other cultures and ways of living have to teach us. We can benefit from different values inculcated by different cultures, just by being open to their views. If only we spend time with our non Indian friends, will we realize that they are so vastly different from the debaucherous stereotypical westener potrayed on screen and accepted as the norm by most of us. They, too, have strong family ties and religious rituals and their lives revolve around their children, just like ours do. Their ways may be different but the same drives, desires and goals motivate them.

I am ready to concede that not everything is right about the western point of view but then not everything is perfect with the eastern way of living, either.   

By segregating our children from the mainstream and not allowing them (and us) another perspective, can prove to be detrimental to their growth. Most modern thinkers as well as spiritual leaders advocate acceptance and tolerance while walking down the path of growth. Mingling with people from different races, backgrounds, genders and taking a more pragmatic view of the different approaches to life, will help us find our way forward far more efficiently, not to mention raise our level of conciousness.

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