Parenting & The Progressive Man - Maitreyan
A file photo from 2015, when I met Kani Kusruti, Maitreyan's daughter!
Every time I listen to Maitreyan speak, I process every bit of his thoughts, the one that is of a progressive man as he states. I was often disappointed by the fact that his interviewers/hosts disagreed to most of his thought process, one in particular where they mentioned that Kani had a confused and messed up childhood because of her upbringing not done right.
To all who questioned that, what is the right way of upbringing, if I may ask? I have often found parents in our society, trying to own their children, control them and confine them, the way they address this, is in the name of love.
What they don’t realise is love isnt always “concern”, “protection”, or “providing in abundance”, love is beyond these restricted thoughts of a worldly being, love is letting your children love themselves, love is aiding them to become independent, love is guiding them to the open doors of freedom, love is giving them flavours of risk and exposing them to exploring their individuality.
I met this beautiful women raised by a progressive father when she accompanied Anand Gandhi yet another man of substance at a conference in Mumbai, this young soul struck me with a charm that was rare, she wasn’t like everybody else in the room & I could resonate to how she looked at things.
Just like hers, I have heard a lot of people around me tag my childhood a struggle, to all of them, it wasn’t one, my parents had their own choices and priorities which was significant yet they provided me what was “NEEDED”, good education, space to grow, opportunities to explore and freedom to find what I am in need of.
Below is the English Translation of the letter he wrote to his biological daughter on her 18th birthday translated Jhini and Anand and this letter clearly states with all emotions the best of what a grown up can pen down as a note to a little one he has given his time, love & space to see the world around.
Over due course of time, I have realized that the first 18-20 years of one's life is mostly bashed with every possible bullshit from around him/her/they-the society, the religion, the relatives, the who knows whos of the world, it then becomes very vital to find what is that you think of all those, unless the pinch of that curiosity doesn’t prick you & push you to dive deep into the questions of why; who are you then?
I haven't taken up the role of a parent yet but what my worldview aligns to is conscious parenting, the art of nuturing someone without confining them to one's thought process. One needs to be vigilant but at the same time must be able to acknowledge the child's pace of growth with respective to its surrounding. There is no straight definition to parenting and anything forced onto a child is clearly acts without consent, most parents consider it their right, their power, their authority to decide for the child and what is disheartening is the fact that they do this no matter how grown up their offspring is.
Some mothers breastfeed, some formula feed, some fathers co-sleep, some don't, some parents train themselves on what to do what not to, some just get all the gyan from the people around them who proclaim themselves as parenting experts just because they have raised two or more children.
Yet another thought that kept me questioning it again and again all through out my childhood was the practise of sacrifice, sometimes it's one's career, sometimes, it's one's home town, sometimes it's the time spent with ones elderly parents, sometimes its one's choice of withdrawing from a toxic relationship-all in the name of the child one is a biological parent to. When my mother got divorced from my father when I was just 5 years old, the society did everything to blame her, insult her, question her and also ignore her concerns. No one really cared for why she separated nor checked whether she needs help. In fact as a 5 year old, unaware of the crux of a marital relationship even I felt my mother wasn't doing the right thing moving out of that relationship and taking me to a new space where I need to call a stranger I haven't met before my dad. Not that my step father was an evil man, he definitely is one major reason to most of the skillsets and level of proficiency I have today in both my personal and professional life, what was bothering there was the time it took for a 5 year old to get accustomed to a change of that aptitude and pace.
Almost 15 years later, when I got into my first relationship is when I realised how much of each partner's well being in an association two individuals sign up for matters. In fact that is when I started reading a lot about Maitreyan, Jayasree and their daughter Kani Kusruti. It was interesting to see how the majority wasn't in line with the logical reasoning about life, relationships, work, society and the art of being.
Tangled between derivations from books written years and years ago and explanations from "n" number of human gods, the majority was lost in who knows where. Humans evolved, technology did as well so are most of everything around us except for how one thinks. Aren't all these stringent norms the excuses human are making the most of to tame themselves under force and pressure. How would they behave if let loose to think for oneself and choose what to and what not to.
So many questions unanswered keeps me going exploring the many facets of the human beings around me, each one vivid and with a sonder story of their own.
Quick pointers to some "every parent in India" folks!
Do not consider behaviour to ascertain the kind your child is, behaviour can be a way they are trying to communicate. It might be hard to read it straight but then if you really wanted them to communicate, you should have given them the space to do so and also a means to do so. It starts pretty early from when your child is a toddler.
Prepare them for the big picture, do not practise the pressure and suck out goals system. Teach them about consent, tell them about what it means to be privileged, aid them to understand diversity, give them a sneak peak to body positivity and much more than only focusing on their rat race.
Do not control copy and paste what your parents did for you while you are parenting your kids, evolution happens across, hence acknowledge it. You are not the king and you ain't running any kingdom, if you do a mistake, learn to apologise to your kids, they should get used to the fact that human beings can go wrong and that is okay.
Stop arbitrarily punishing them for their doings, right or wrong, what so ever be your definition, instead give them logical consequences to think of and work on so that they can rely on those and not end up doing the same again.
Do not make rules, minimise the do nots and maximise the free space you provide, but make sur these are under safe and flexible environments. What is beyond your control is risk, and let it be so.
In the process of prepping your kid to win the race, do not forget to focus on the small things that matter- be it self hygiene, basic decluttering skills, learning to cook for survival and also life skills like cycling, swimming, driving, and so on. Ignoring these aren't ways you pamper them, instead would be reasons why they would struggle in the long run in the name of the very same pamper.
Initiate conversations about indivituality, identity, sensitive social issues and eventually make sure that you give the children the feeling of home being the safest place to ask questions about anything and everything. I still remember asking my mother about porn and things like that after I was confused post a school discussion that went above my head.
Parenting is not graded based on how obedient your child is, so let aside obedience, and focus on the larger beliefs, thought process, and the necessity of continual learning. Let your kids be part of decision making when it comes to every day life scenarios, let them feel involved and inculcate the habit of critical thinking.
Do not take the meaning of "offspring" too seriously, look beyond them being your extensions, look at them as individuals who have their own undeniable rights.
Last but not the least, do not be the director of the movie of their life, let them script theirs. Do not direct rather explain to why, what and how and encourage the curiosity that lies within all of us.
These are thoughts of a daughter who feels she is what she is today because of her upbringing, one that was unusual and weird for the majority, yet the one that had more value for independence, individuality and intuitions.