Are we Chick-Pecked?- The Importance of Saying No

by Chandrika R Krishnan

There was a recent article in Times of India in the aftermath of Pune Porsche case that we seem to be taking Yes- Parenting too far. When re-visiting some of my old articles, I realized that not much has changed from February 2017 to now. This piece published in Deccan Herald, underlines the problems that seem to persist in our style of parenting. It just seems to be getting worse.

“Quizzed about skipping classes, teen jumps to his death,” screamed the city headlines.

Psychologists, neighbours, teachers, Principal and peers would all have their own take for such an untimely demise. The academicians would take note of this pressure and root for diluting the examination system.  Ease the pressure on our children would be a new age mantra. The parents would be left bereft grappling with ‘would have been’ and ‘whys’. Their future would be grey for years to come.

In this context, I remember a few lines from Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. The lines goes thus; theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die!

I believe that today’s parents too are facing similar situation as the soldiers in the Crimean War. They need to just follow orders, orders given by the authorities, psychologists and psychiatrists, arm-chair psychoanalysts and of course the children themselves.  My late father used to jocularly say, “I am not hen-pecked but I am chick-pecked!”

Dad, you were not but we surely are!

There was heated discussion on this among us the elevated souls whose children have grown up. We all agreed that parenting was always an onerous task. Of late, it is taking a different hue because of multiple challenges that are being thrown our way.  We are slowly and steadily subjected to a great inflow of information coming our way and our discretionary power is tested more so now than earlier.

Is love impairing our judgement?

I was at a dentist recently. The toddler tore open the protective sheet and took out the ornamental pebbles from the centre table and started giving it to all the patients around. No doubt it was looking cute as most children do but what was not ‘so cute’ was the mother’s inability to say a no to the child damaging a public property.  I am sure Madame Curie’s mother would have sported a similar expression had she been alive when her daughter won the Nobel Prize twice!

Many children go through life never hearing the word ‘no’ nor understanding the word discipline little realizing that a great deal of disservice has been done to them while they were growing up. Universe gives us plenty but it also throws up a lot of obstacles our way and children need to be taught that they can’t have everything their way or take the highway.  They need to be reminded to operate from the appropriate boundaries. The best gifts we can give our children are all intangibles but yet they are substantial. The modern belief that children will learn responsibility and other life-time lessons like love, compassion, gratitude, gratefulness after they are grown up is never going to take place unless they are taught these values from young and this begins with saying a firm ‘no’ in fulfilling every whims and fancies of the child even if we as parents can afford to satisfy them. Even a small child needs to accept the term, “it’s too costly,” rather than getting away with a tantrum.  A child breaks its favourite toy…well bad luck and you don’t immediately get a replacement. Unfortunately, parents feel that there is long road to learn responsibility little forgetting that responsibility and personal rights go hand in hand. Having things early on has another negative impact. The children have lost their ability to find ways to entertain themselves and hence the term boredom and ennui sets in too early in their lives and leads them to experiment with stuff for a sense of euphoria however transient it may be.

What could be the reason for giving in?  Late child or a single child, material comfort, guilt of working and busy parents is all adding to a new age scenario wherein we as parents are failing in teaching our children discipline.

Preparing the child for the road ahead

Another major lesson of parenting is not to insulate the child from any kind of pain or danger that can creep into their lives. Hence, it is imperative that we prepare our children for the road and not make the road ready for children.  Experiencing the pain and discomfort is all a part of growing up.  It’s but natural to want to protect our children from all kinds of hurt, be it bullying, new school, and their interview etc… somewhere we forget to allow them to experience life.

The goal for all of us is to learn from each experience and try to be reasonable about what we have control over – and what is beyond our control. One of the most predominant memories of my childhood is our dinner time tales that we all indulged in as a part of our growing up. We all gathered around the table for our dinner and we all exchanged the happenings of the day. Hence, we knew that my ‘stay at home’ mother was not twiddling her thumbs the entire day and unlike the present generation, we never said, “Oh, you were free the entire day and didn’t do anything!”  We also were aware of the extreme sacrifice my father made with his constant touring job to help meet the extra expenses of a growing family. We grew up having enough but never having a lot. Our discussion also ensured talking about various aspects that were stuck in the recess of our mind to be re-collected years later. My two older sisters added to my bank of knowledge.

Our aim in life is to raise good children, good citizens and good human beings.  In this context to believe in them and helping them grow is what should parents focus on. Walking the talk is even more important in present times. If your own focus is to earn money and not give sufficient time to relationships then the message goes to your child loud and clear. No amount of explanation or reasoning is going to help the child think different. Every step of the way, our children are watching us and that to a great extent make them the way they are.

Sometimes, it does amaze me that a set of beautiful people can have a child go completely wayward.  Being in education line, I know for fact that there are huge chunks in their children’s life that the parents are completely unaware of. There are parents out there who regale all and sundry how their baby knows how to operate the mobile phones better than them! And then they want to wean when the child comes to teens.  Many parents have been at the wit’s end trying to wean their child from the computers, mobile phones and other paraphernalia of the technological world we live in. We need to keep away from technology if we want our child to pay attention to what we say. If our conversation is more between our mobile phone than the person in front of us, then I think our message is loud and clear where our priorities are set, right?

Power of communication

I believe that communication channel should be kept open and constant between parents and children. We need to speak about Sex, drugs, money and other dark aspects keeping the conversation at par with the children. There are no taboo subjects. Whenever we feel the need to control or pull back some privileges, so be it.  Developing a thick hide whenever the children ignore us and taking this in stride and still persisting pays off.  There are no children who have not thrown the words, ‘mean’, ‘partial’ at us particularly at moms. I believe that if your child had used the words, “I hate you,’ then you have done your job extremely well! Keeping a constant check on your child through the teachers and schools is also very important.

I had read somewhere that raising a child is akin to painting a picture stroke by stroke, in strange combinations of colours and hues, without knowing how the final image will appear when complete.

There really is no yardstick by which you measure your success as parents. I believe that if children are there for you without being constantly by your side, keep the communication platform open, are responsible for their actions, stop depending on you after a certain age either financially, emotionally or physically (unless they are having some health issues) then you can pat your backs for a job well done and learn to live your life without breathing down their necks.  You as parents must make them aware that if they need safety, if they need complete acceptance, if they need unconditional love, they know where to look for them and that happens to be you.

Not an easy road

Parenting is not for the feeble-hearted.  Along with the stretch marks we develop worry lines too.  Striking a balance between the changing world of today to fitting the social norms is an on-going battle- palpitation, sleepless nights banging doors notwithstanding!  That is not to say, fathers don’t have a say. A united-front is what the children look for and that is the need of the hour.

 

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’
hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla
in collaboration with Zariya Healings.

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27 comments

Aishwariya Laxmi June 13, 2024 - 9:10 pm

I remember telling someone my dad is chick-pecked, the chick being me. But I don’t think that’s true anymore. He can be very strict when he chooses to be!

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Cindy DSilva June 14, 2024 - 11:57 am

I know where you’re coming from. These days I don’t know why parents seem to be afraid of their kids. There is something weird about this situation. I’m a mom who says NO when required. Public property is not something that should even be touched, forget destroyed!

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ambica gulati June 17, 2024 - 7:07 am

True, parenting is not for the feeble hearted and the people who don’t value public life. While I am not a parent, I have observed that parents tend to over pamper the child and not euip him/her for the world around them. It’s a lot of learning and growing for both the parent and the child.

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Preeti Chauhan June 18, 2024 - 11:40 am

As a mother who had a strict upbringing, I have chosen to take a more lenient approach with my children. Maybe it’s because I feel like my children don’t have the safety net of large families, cousins, and siblings that I did. Or maybe it’s the added pressure of social media that makes them constantly compare themselves to others. It’s tough trying to find the balance between being a cool mom and a responsible parent in this day and age but I have kept some boundaries that tell them what they can get away with and what is off bounds.

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Chandrika R Krishnan June 20, 2024 - 10:25 pm

The struggle is real ..more so these days then ever before

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Samata June 18, 2024 - 5:06 pm

I think this topic is again emerging as a must talked one NO- Its importance. In Feb 2023, I wrote about this same topic which you can read here https://www.indiacafe24.com/knowledge-bank/the-art-of-saying-no-without-uttering-no/ and a week back I heard my husband giving a management lecture session in his office on the same topic ” Why it is important to say No”. That makes me feel good honestly. I do say no in many cases and it is not pleasing for the person I say so, but If I dont say then I will be taken as granted leading to unnecessary stress or pressure on my mind which I am not ready to take.

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Chandrika R Krishnan June 20, 2024 - 10:24 pm

Have marked your article to read. Yes. It has always remained relevant and yet we struggle

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Meetali Kutty June 19, 2024 - 3:02 pm

We often struggle with setting boundaries and saying no, fearing we’ll upset our children or others. However, teaching kids the value of discipline and the reality that they can’t always get what they want is crucial for their development. The anecdote about the child at the dentist’s office is a perfect example of why it’s necessary. A thoughtful read for parents navigating these tricky waters!

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Chandrika R Krishnan June 20, 2024 - 10:24 pm

Yes, many times we seem to be treading carefully when dealing with kids. That should not happen. When did we reach that stage?

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Harjeet Kaur June 19, 2024 - 10:17 pm

Saying NO is the first step to good parenting. There are so many names for different parenting these days. I see parents laughing it away when their kids destroy something or smile indulgently without telling the kid that it is wrong. Kids have seen the world before they are ten. I wonder what will be left for them to discover on their own.

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Chandrika R Krishnan June 20, 2024 - 10:23 pm

absolutely. Too indulgent

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Ratna June 20, 2024 - 10:22 am

I agree with everything you say, Chandrika. The chick-pecking is on the rise, and it might end up being wrong. Some social historian in the future is going to lay the blame squarely on current parents while he or she continues to use the weapon of chick-pecking. And you’re suggestions are all sensible and not so difficult to follow too. I hope some of us parents learn to do it right, or at least learn to say no more often than now.

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Chandrika R Krishnan June 20, 2024 - 10:23 pm

I think every successive generation will feel, ” I can do better!”

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Docdivatraveller June 20, 2024 - 4:51 pm

Parenting is the toughest job in this universe. I ask myself everyday that why did I choose to be one. You have given food for thought.

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Chandrika R Krishnan June 20, 2024 - 10:22 pm

Yes. It is. alternates between frustrating and fulfilling

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Neeta Kadam June 21, 2024 - 9:14 am

Today’s parents always scared to kids. They always wanted to protect them and give everything whatever kids demand. They even didn’t scold them I have seen such parents a lot but they are damaging their kids life only.

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Varsh June 21, 2024 - 10:17 am

Glad that I’m not the only one who sees the wrong in the patenting ways these days. The other day a Dad gave his 6-month old son his phone to keep him quiet while it’s Mom tried on clothes. Can’t we take the responsibility to pick our child up and talk them, like really talk to them? Imagine how it’ll be when such kids grow up. Parents have burnt the bridges long ago!

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Madhu Bindra June 21, 2024 - 12:32 pm

I was strict with my children and they grew up just fine. Children need to be taught what is right and wrong and to be disciplined. Nothing wrong in that.

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Kaveri Chhetri June 21, 2024 - 3:02 pm

Your post makes absolute sense Chandrika. Parents sometimes forget to draw the line. I am a strict mother and I get the flak from my friends for being like this but I won’t budge. n by the way I say ‘no, not at all, never’ to them all the time… Hahaha!

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Manali June 21, 2024 - 7:27 pm

Your observation ‘No doubt it was looking cute as most children do but what was not ‘so cute’ was the mother’s inability to say a no to the child’ about the child at the dentist’s made me recall a recent reel I saw on Instagram where a child jumped in during a live dance performance at a sangeet function and none of the parents or elders did anything about it. The child kept dancing on the stage and the performance could not go smoothly. One of the performers posted the reel saying how their weeks’ worth of practice and preparation went down the drain and how annoyed+heartbroken their group was.

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Ritu Bindra June 21, 2024 - 7:29 pm

Not in a position to judge as I am not a parent but I feel it is selfish to let the “real world” teach the child and not inculcate discipline. Justifying it with the whole “it will cause childhood trauma”. That backfires and how! I have seen kids behaving in such a horrid way, all because they know they can get away with it.

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Janaki June 21, 2024 - 9:17 pm

Too difficult to handle kids these days. But ew as parents have brought this upon us, I’m afraid. Why should be slaves to our children. When needed we should be able to say ‘no’ and the child needs to understand that this is the same mother who also says ‘yes’.

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Felicia June 21, 2024 - 9:23 pm

It’s scary to think about how some parents are unaware of huge chunks of their children’s lives. Sometimes, kids need to hear “no” more often, and it’s up to us to set those boundaries. The part about technology and how it affects our interactions is so true. We need to model the behavior we want to see in our kids, and that means putting our phones down.

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Aditi Kapur June 21, 2024 - 11:05 pm

I am worried about the children of today. They don’t request; they order. They don’t apologize; they argue. Parents like us are puppets in the hands of the gen-next. I feel like everything bad around the world is happening because of this imbalance. I hope the situation improves in the near future 🤞🏻

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Chandrika R Krishnan June 26, 2024 - 12:13 pm

Thank you for your read and comments

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Anjali Tripathi June 23, 2024 - 4:25 pm

I completely agree with you dear—parenting is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The worry lines and sleepless nights are very real! Balancing today’s changing world with social norms is a constant challenge.

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Chandrika R Krishnan June 26, 2024 - 12:05 pm

Thank you Anjali. A difficult task indeed

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