Does your child know the F-word? Where do you think he learnt that?

"Mum, do you know the f-word?" asked my little one the other day.
"Do you know it?" I asked him in return.
"Of course I do, and I also know the s-word!" he told me smugly, before he was (thankfully) distracted by something on the TV; leaving me to thank my stars that I did not have to go any deeper in that discussion today. Phew!

You know, I am often asked by people to recommend books for their children of various ages and in various genres; and I am more than happy to help. I have always enjoyed reading since my childhood and I am only too happy to help others enjoy this wonderful habit too. And what is really heartening, is to see parents being diligent and concerned that their children only read age-appropriate books, preferably classics, by well-heeled authors; and most importantly, with very less or absolutely no swear words.

But as delightful as it is to recommend a lovely book; I wish parents also asked for recommendations about other things their children should see or do. Not because the parents do not know their parenting, but because it is sometimes very difficult, as young people themselves, for parents to put ‘doing right by their children’ above their own enjoyment. Now you are wondering what I am getting at; and you are thinking, “hey, we know what we are doing, we are the parents; and we know what our duties towards our children are. We don’t need you to teach us parenting!” And maybe I would agree.

In fact I want to; but I cannot, because I see a lot of parents letting their children do things that aren’t really meant for children. I have seen many parents turn a blind eye to what the effect of such things is on their little ones. One cannot blame them as they are really tired after a stressful week and there is only so much a person can handle – especially a young person who is trying to climb the corporate ladder, run a house and raise children all at the same time! So yes, parents need their down time too.   

And yet, despite it being no business of mine, and at the risk of sounding like a moral police to my fellow parents, I feel there is so much that is going wrong! Of course anyone is free to stop reading this post any moment and by all means move on to the next thing you want to do. But before that, take a step back and think. Think how we spend our downtime and for a moment, imagine how it impacts our children. What do we normally do to beat the stress? Do we watch TV? Do we go mall-hopping on weekends? Do we watch a new movie every weekend? Do we order food online frequently? Do we take children to pubs? (Okay family pubs, but pubs nevertheless…); and when we do all these things ‘to get out of the rut’ or because we are ’bored and stressed out after a hectic week’ do we stop and think – “are these things meant for children?”

You see, we want to see our favourite super stars in the movie theatre, or we want to see the latest critically acclaimed movie, or we want to visit the newly opened mall in the area (oh, we know it is over-the-top but we only want to do window-shopping); but by making these activities as routine weekend activities, we more or less ‘teach’ our children that this is the way of life! For them a weekend doesn’t mean winding down or making a visit to the garden or to a library anymore; no, to them a weekend is to go to the mall, have a leisurely lunch and watch the latest movie. Then maybe, if they find themselves in the mood, visit a (family) pub too!

“Work hard and party harder” is the mantra of most present generation parents; but we forget, children only see us partying, they don’t really see us working hard. So when these children grow up and it is their turn to work hard; how do you think they are going to react? Already, because of helicopter parenting and buddy parenting and so on, our children are becoming more and more used to getting maximum benefits with minimum efforts; so how is this compulsion to go mall and pub hopping over the weekends work out for them, especially since they aren’t used to the hard work that needs to be put in during the week to earn enough to have these expensive hobbies?

Not only that, when we show them the latest movies every week, we just think of it as a “timepass”; but children are at an impressionable age; and they take their heroes very seriously. So when they see their heroes smuggling liquor bottles in school bags and justifying a liquor business by distributing food for the community during curfew, what are they really learning? When children see movies that are not really meant for their age (which is everything that is not animated; and even some animated ones, in fact); they are exposed to things that are beyond their comprehension. And instead of thinking about the rights and the wrongs of it as we adults might do, they think that is the right thing! It is no wonder then that most children talk about kissing, fighting and even “hot and sexy” and the cherry on the cake - "the f-word" and "the s-word" in the school when the teacher isn’t listening!

Is this what we want our children to grow up doing? Many parents today say things like “oh, these children! All that these kids talk about today is so ‘not their age’!” But why hasn’t anyone realised yet that we parents are the ones responsible for exposing our children to these things in the first place. Everyone is concerned our children know the f-word and the s-word; but no one is ready to take the responsibility of taking children to a garden or a museum or a library on a weekend instead of a movie so they know better, really relevant words!

I know I will get a lot of flak for this post and most parents will just say “none of your business” or “it’s different from parents to parents” or something like that and dismiss this post; but I really think it is high time we realise, that be it watching TV in the confines of our home or be it taking our children out to the malls and the movies – the most important question we need to ask ourselves is, is this really meant for children?     



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