Wednesday, December 15, 2010



My late father-in-law was a wonderful man, a cherished mentor to me, and I pray that may his soul rest in peace.

He once told me, I think just after my wedding, a time tested age-old parenting theory about bringing up children.


From birth till a child is five, the mother should pay maximum attention to nurturing the child, in fact, the baby should be under the full care of its mother, and the father should be generally around as a source of amusement and joy, playing with the baby, entertaining him or her, fostering, as a father figure in a supporting role, since as designed by mother nature, the baby biologically needs its mother’s physical affection [nurturing, breastfeeding, ablutions] and emotional love the most.


Between five to twelve years of age the father should play a vital enriching role in the child’s life, supporting, buttressing, reinforcing and inspiring a sense of security and confidence, though the mother still plays the major role as the more loving and principal parent.


It is only after the child turns twelve that the father begins to play an increasing major role in the child’s development. Now the father must take charge as the principal parent while the mother recedes into the background [playing the role of what the father did in Stage 1] and, of course, performing the cardinal role as principal parent looking after the younger children who are in Stages 1 and 2.

Dear Reader, do you agree with the parenting paradigm?

Maybe I am an old fogey, with outdated views, but recently, I was shocked to learn that a young mother working abroad had sent her three month old first born baby to India with the baby’s grandmother [the baby’s mother’s mother who had gone there to assist in the delivery] to be brought up here by the old lady.

Is it morally correct from the baby’s point of view?

Is it in consonance with the biological laws of nature, to willfully deprive a new-born baby of natural physical and emotional maternal love for the sake of externals like career ambition? 

Is it not cruel on the hapless child?

Is it fair for the mother to deprive herself of the joys of motherhood?

I find it unimaginable that a mother, and even the father, prefers to willingly remain away from her small baby.

Can a grandmother, or anyone else, fulfill the natural role of the mother better than the birthmother?

How will this lack and willful deprivation of natural physical maternal love, and absence of a father figure, affect the development of the child in later years?

Will it affect their interrelationships as parent and child?

And the interrelationships of the child with others, in later years, like the child’s future interelationships with friends and spouse?

We are born wanting a loving, nurturing attachment to our parents [particularly the mother].

Within the first year or two of life we all develop an image of our "love object" and our relationship with that person.

These images comprise feelings, fears, needs and wants – the mental-emotional yearnings of an infant baby for his or her parents [especially the mother].

Suppose the birthmother fails to meet the baby’s natural needs and yearnings, can someone else, like a grandmother, take her place in lieu as the “love object”?

And, if so, what are the repercussions of this on the development of the child?

A grandmother playing a mother’s role – won’t this cause an ambiguity in the child’s mind?

Well, I don’t know the answers to all these questions. Do you?

I'll end on a lighter note. Now-a-days, in contrast to the parenting theory enunciated above, modern couples talk of shared parenting
Well here is a Mulla Nasrudin Story on the subject:

Late one night, Nasrudin’s baby started crying. 

Nasrudin’s wife turned to him and said, “Husband, go take care of the baby. After all, he is not only mine — he is also half yours.”

Nasrudin sleepily remarked, “You can go stop your half from crying if you want, but I choose to let my half continue to cry.”

Here is wishing all Parents and would-be Parents a very Happy Parenting.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.  
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU, The Lawrence School Lovedale, and Bishop's School Pune, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book "Appetite for a Stroll". Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts. 
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shail said...

I have come across the same thing and echo your thoughts on the subject. No answers in sight.
Loss of a mother/father of a child to death is one thing that cannot be helped. But deliberately separating your child from you to be brought up by grandparents... somehow I cannot adjust with that. I'd rather the parents did not have a child at all rather than do this.
I personally know a girl (first born) who was brought up in her initial years by her grandmother who could never ever get close to her mother in later years (by the time she was 10 she was back with her parents) much to the sorrow and despair of her mother. The other children who grew up with her had a totally different nature compared to this girl who seemed more self contained and aloof. I am no expert, but I felt this attitude was a mere front when I talked to her on her mother's request.In fact it was as if the child was crying deep inside. Being empathetic myself I ended up walking away with tears inside as well. I have to this day not forgotten that girl.
I have seen more of them down the line and still see such children, the recent one being a 7 year old whom her grandma has been taking care on her own, the parents are in the US.

That's a funny one from Mulla Nasruddin :)

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Thanks for your insightful comments Shail. I really wonder whether such surrogate parenting by grandparents works