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Should parents draw a propriety line when dealing with grown up children?.

April 18, 2010

It is often said that when daughter reaches the mother’s shoulder and son starts wearing father’s shoes then the parents should become more like a friend to the child than a parent.

But should there be a limit for being friendly with the growing/grown up children?

Should parents draw a line of decorum at some stage least they both cross the decency level ( read aankh ki sharam)?

Long time back I had gone to see Masti movie with my son who was just 10-11 years old at that time. The movie was full of double meaning dialogues. I was enjoying and normally watching the movie when suddenly my 11 year old turned to me and said,” Mummy are you able to understand the dialogues, they are all double meaning ones. Or do you want me to explain them to you” I was just stunned. I could not believe my ears. My child was aware of double meaning words! During my childhood days ( I know I sound like an oldie—someone from the other generation—here goes all my claims of able to bridge the generation gap) we were definitely not aware of all this stuff. After his offer to help me understand the movie I just could not concentrate on the movie. I was feeling so self conscious even after the movie ended.

Time passed and then a time came when my son started forwarding non veg msgs from my phone to his phone. And when I tried to stop him he very smartly answered, “ arre I have even worst msgs then what you have. Do you want me to send them to you?” but he did not forward any of his msgs to me and when I asked he sheepishly replied,” there should be some limit between mother and child. I feel ashamed to send such sms to you”. Didn’t he realize that even I feel the same when he reads my msgs.

My husband gets very panicky when my  son who is now 21 years old ,even if just touches his cell phone. He just fears that if the son will by chance open his inbox and  read the messages, then what his son will think of him—my dad reads such dirty smses? To which my son gives the same reply, “papa I have dirtier msgs then what you have. I am a grown up boy.” although my son never opens the inbox but even then my husband gets agitated.

This incidence again happened today (it is almost a weekly issue) which led me to share my confusions.

If we think that a grown up son or daughter should be treated like an adult individual then should the parents cross all the limits of decorum/morality and discuss and share everything with the child or should a line be drawn where both should stop and say, “Now no more encroaching. Let there be certain matters between us which should not be aired even though we are friends?”

I suppose it is easy for girls to discuss everything with their mothers but a little difficult for the sons to open up with either of the parents.

There is nothing wrong if the child turns to parents for help or to discuss sexual matters/problem. Rather parents should make it a point to make the child aware of the facts of life, impart sex education, clear all their doubts but with a scientific approach, with the same attitude like they teach their children other things of life but I personally don’t approve of sharing of non veg jokes, or pornographic stuff with the children and laughing on them.

I don’t mind what one of my college friends, a thorough flirt used to say, “I will have special sessions with my children when they grow up. I will teach all the techniques of flirting to my son and will teach my daughter how to recognize the modus operandi of boys and how to avoid it.  🙂

But I have my reservations if he starts sharing the intimate relations which he had with his girl friends.

Do I sound old fashioned or from some other century?

What do you think about it?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2010 10:13 pm

    No you don’t sound old fashioned at all. Like every mother, you sound concerned about your kids or kids-in-general.

    The idea of imparting formal sex education to your kids is a little beyond my understanding. Neither the parent or the son/daughter would be comfortable. A child should better learn about these things from other sources like friends, books etc. The parent should observe the changes in the child and if they sense that the child is going in the wrong direction, they should be friendly enough to ask him openly.

    • April 20, 2010 4:38 pm

      i strongly belive that basics of sex education should come from the parents. although the children are exposed to all information from TV, internet, books etc but it is necessary that their budding mind is fed the right type of information and not the twiested or perverted version.

  2. April 19, 2010 1:37 am

    I think transparency should be there till the time time your child is still growing up and coming to you for direction.

    It is all upto the parent whether he or she wants to draw a line. If you feel uncomfortable then you should make it clear to your son about that, after all he is an adult now and he will understand.

    My parents kept a distinct line about what topic I could discuss with them when I was growing up but sometimes I did want to discuss things but that invisible line always stopped me and I felt a little lost.

    Kids these days mature faster and have a lot of exposure but that does not mean that they do not have questions.

    • April 20, 2010 4:40 pm

      I used by case as just an example.
      i express my self better when i write in first person
      i firmly belive that the relationship between parent and child should be such that the child feels free to come to the parents with any topic
      the line can be drawn when the child asks personal question about the sex life of parents . 🙂

  3. April 19, 2010 8:36 am

    A thoughtful post Anju.there are a few ways to look at this situation.

    1.The moralistic one – why watch Masti with a adolescent? Why have an adult content on your mobile in the first place? Why even encourage a discussion about flirting just wanting to be friends with your child? Why have hubby leave dirty messages on the phone accessible to all.?and then why get upset with child because he has access to dirtier messages?

    So if the Moral guru were true – he/she would have asked you to wake up and smell the cappuccino. Aren’t you inviting such behavior by such actions? Time to look at you first and then the child.

    2.The open one – If you belong to a mindset,which believes,everything is possible and have a realistic,pragmatic take on life,then be prepared for questions ranging from masturbation to maternity.nothing should be uncomfortable or taboo,because you wont describe sex as “dirty”.

    so if the open one is you – this approach is bound to test your sense of balance,and objectivity.Additionally there lies a risk of too much information leads to confusion in the child’s mind.

    So you see, the path to finding a balance is very difficult. You and partner need to sit down and discuss rules of engagement as it were.Decide what is acceptable and what is not.Communicate consistently,not just through verbal exercise but also non-verbal communication.Lead the way,be the example you want your child to follow.

    yes,times have changed, and continue to change even as I write this,more taboo subjects are now in the open,and are acceptable.The idea is find a balance between openness acceptability and closed narrow minded rigidity.Our culture,history and mythology have varying degrees of contradiction…so we are bound to be confused ourselves to a certain extent.So to that effect your situation is perfectly normal.

    if you can find that elusive balance between your privacy and freedom, with respect to you, your partner, you and partner, you,partner and child, then chances are you will be more at ease with every situation in your life.

  4. April 19, 2010 10:37 am

    I think it is fair to discuss all matters with the growing up children. It is well known that the children have access to greater exposure that we eve had.
    All that parents can and should do is to tell them the merits and demerits—and leave them alone.

  5. April 19, 2010 5:38 pm

    No Mrs. Anju, you are not old fashioned. I would suggest you just make him understand that you are not comfortable whenever he turns that face on you. That would be enough I suppose. They will learn it all by themselves, you do not have to worry madam.

  6. April 20, 2010 6:59 am

    To start with, I am 21. My parents have been very open to me, so much so that I know exactly how much the family income is, how much we manage to save, and where the savings are! My dad tried explaining “Birds and bees” to me when I was in the 4th standard, though I didn’t get a word(my friends explained it better(:), but give that guy credit for atleast trying yaar!
    We talk about every imaginable thing possible or impossible from girls to aliens, but there IS a decorum. I make it a point not to be around when he is with his friends, I know his inbox is as tainted as mine, but I do not read his messages. It is a 2 way street, even he tries to keep his inbox as “clean” as possible.

    P.S. Man! you parents have to think about so many things, must be so difficult!

  7. April 20, 2010 6:10 pm

    Prateek Shujanya– it is said when you will become a parent then only you will realise how difficult it is be a parent.
    Thanx for appreciating the fact


  8. April 22, 2010 8:22 am

    Anju I feel there is nothing wrong with not sharing some movies and some jokes with one’s kids if one is uncomfortable. But another commenter pointed out sex should not be seen as something dirty and it’s good to accept that an adult child does have information and knowledge that the parents may not expect them to have.
    I don’t like my email or messages read by anybody, my kids included. I respect their right to privacy too (they are 17 and 19).

  9. May 14, 2010 11:32 pm

    Hi Anju. I agree, that it is a wee bit difficult, more of a conflict in such cases between parent and child but I seem to agree with Gyan when he says that we as parents must be prepared for all this. And not feel bad about it at all. Today’s children grow up too fast. About lakshman rekhas, that depends from parent to parent. We cannot generalize.

    Nice write-up Anju.

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