Parenting is an instinct, not an investment!

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Visu is a Tamil writer, actor, director and producer well known for his “family-oriented” movies and plays. He also became popular on the small screen when he began hosting a debate on social issues. Recently he was felicitated by the ‘Humour club’, a Chennai-based organisation that promotes healthy humour and humorists.  I got to see this on Youtube. Recommend all humour club videos to those who understand Tamil. They are awesome stressbusters.

In Visu’s felicitation function, the audience was typically 45-50 plus in age.  In the interaction session with the audience several participants complained about how children today do what they like and do not listen to their parents and marry whom they please. Pretty much everyone who spoke that day (including Visu) agreed that love marriage is a bad idea and that children must marry only the person chosen by their parents.

The crux of the argument was, the parents had given so much of their time, effort, money, affection … to bring up the children.  Therefore, the children are obliged to do as told.

Parental expectations stretch beyond whom a child should marry, where they should study and where they should work.  I know parents who expect their child to top every exam that they attend and have no qualms about expressing their disappointment if they fail to do so. This can cause a severe strain on the relationship and can even drive children to depression.

I have often wondered why parents want to control their children? Is because of insecurity – emotional or financial? Is it simply a matter of culture – an attribute found in the blood? Does it depend on how educated the parents are? Does it depend on how much independent they are likely to be upon retirement?

All I can say for sure is parenting can be devoid of all logic.  Parenting is an evolutionary instinct. Very few people are able to say ‘no’ to the instinct to procreate.

Animals are as protective as us, but have no trouble letting go. Perhaps because of the way we live in closed communities (like viruses if you are a Matrix fan), we tend to be over-protective of our children.

Parenting is not an investment. Nowhere in the scheme information document (SID) does it require our children to do what we say and take care of us when we are old.

All we can do is to shower them with affection, nurture their individuality and get out of their way before they feel that we ought to.  We also need to pray that we have enough health and money to not be a burden on them in old age.

I think it is in the movie 9 months, Hugh Grant says something like,

we need a license to marry, drive, carry a gun, hunt, serve drinks, fly, etc. but we don’t need one to parent.

There is a similar, but unmentionable dialogue in the movie, parenthood.

I guess we need to ask ourselves from time to time, did we create life only to see it suffer by our own hand?

I only have a nearly six-year-old. Like they say, I haven’t seen anything yet. Much of what I have written above is from the point of view of a son, teacher and observer. Perhaps this post will serve as a reminder if I try to impose myself on my son.

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About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management.  He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
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  1. I wish to send this to my dad …..but I dare not 😛 I ll hv to be content in sending it to colleagues and friends only .

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