Consumerism has engulfed to the extent that we have lost the power to discriminate what is right and what is not.Yesterday, I was watching a talk show in a popular Tamil channel and the topic was expectations of a bride-to-be from her parents. It was shocking to hear that most young girls (between 18-21), have very high expectations from their parents in terms of what they call “gifts for marriage”. This includes, extravagance, expensive clothes, property and cash amounting to several lakhs. They don’t seem to care if their parents can afford it or not. All they want is to stand out in the crowd and have a wedding that will be remembered and talked about at least for sometime.
Two points that upset me were:
- These girls are all getting good, professional education that can stand them in good stead in future yet they want to want to fleece their parents for money/property for the sake of security. They don’t value the education that is being provided and don’t trust that their qualification will provide them the security they are looking for.
- The girls felt that money is power. Property will keep them in a position higher than their would-be husbands who cannot threaten them/make them feel inferior . In fact, the future husbands will have no choice but to become their slaves.
I am not sure what girls in the north of India feel about this issue because I have been in the South for a while now and have been watching and interacting more with women this side. I am sure the story on the other side might be interesting as well. But one thing is for sure–Children of this generation get everything they desire for, starting from toys at a younger age to bikes/cars when they grow up. Thanks to the credit card (whoever discovered it, gosh!) everything can be bought today and paid for later (when? whenever). So children never really understand the financial situation at home. In our times, when we didn’t have money (hard cash) we could not buy anything, however urgent the need be.
Here are some points that parents need to drive home to their children:
- Everything comes for a price, whether we pay for it today or next week.
- Parents work hard to earn every single rupee and that needs to be valued.
- If a thing is not necessary, we don’t need to get it just because a neighbor or friend has it.
And this for the parents:
- If you can’t afford something that your child wants, don’t get it on credit.
- Let your children help you in housework like a bit of cleaning up and washing. That way they know the amount of work that goes into managing a house efficiently.
- Never discriminate between boys and girls–a rule that applies to your sons applies to your daughter as well.
We, as parents assume that happiness is getting more than what is needed. But we don’t realize that we are raising the bar of expectations among our children which doesn’t work in our favor in the long run. Helicopter parenting is no good too; let them be free and independent to decide when they come of age. And most importantly, practice what you preach. Be a role model that your children can look upon.
Our parents and grandparents didn’t need tools and workshops to manage their children though each family had more than 3 children on an average. Yet we turned out to be practical and understood and respected our parents and their sentiments. We were reminded of the importance of values time and again which have come in handy when we have had to deal with rough patches. But what was most significant was that we were not touched by technology. We hardly indulged in social networking round the clock. Soaps and serials were realistic; they never knocked unimaginable ideas into our heads.
Our children, on the other hand live in an imaginary world, where everything happens in a jiffy and without much physical effort. They draw their inspiration from movies and soaps and hence are often misguided into dreaming of “happily ever after.” Alas! there is no App to buy happiness. All we can do is keep continuing our spiel on value (for money and people), hard work, good health and love. What will happen 10 years down the line…we have to wait and watch.