Thursday, 12 March, 2009

Parenting saga

Normally, I would not have read this interview. But the blurb – “I will spend every rupee I earned on myself. Let my kids fend for themselves” - caught my attention. It was actor Nazaruddin Shah’s response to a question if he had received his share of fame and money from the film industry. Answering in affirmative, he said he would not leave any of that for his children.

Shikha Sharma, MD & CEO, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, also has similar views about leaving an inheritance for her children. To quote from an interview, “They have to earn on their own. We’ll fund their education, but they are not getting any inheritance from their parents!”

I couldn’t but appreciate the detachment they expressed. Shah and Sharma would not have kept aside their dreams to support their children. But most middle-class parents slog their entire life to ensure a comfortable life to their kids. Their responsibility does not end with providing education. Daughters have to be married off lavishly with a hefty dowry. A host of other society-enforced demands that follow the marriage and birth of grandchildren have to be taken care of, which only translate to more expenses. Money need not be spent on sons’ marriage, but they have to deal with the expectations on their wealth – be it the house or that hard-saved fixed deposit.

Where is the end to the expectations on parents? Are they meant to live and die for their children? When will they gather enough courage to declare that their children would not inherit their money? When will they stop feeling guilty in spending money on themselves instead of saving it up for kids?

That expensive sari or much-dreamt-about vacation was rarely affordable in their prime years. At least, in the old age, let them live out their postponed dreams.


Santosh 12 March 2009 at 11:15 pm  

It is a big paradigm shift. And as you rightly said, the biggest hurdle for the parents is this guilt factor. I recently read in a newspaper about an old aged couple being abandoned on a highway by 'somebody' in our own God's own country. So much for the parents for what they made their chindren what they are...

I endorse the views of Mr.Shah & Ms.Sharma, at the same time as a parent I realize the "sea within" to survive this shift.

Arun.N.M. 13 March 2009 at 2:11 am  

Good post. May be things are changing.New parents are thining differently.
Give them education and let them be on their feet by their own.

Anonymous 13 March 2009 at 10:43 pm  

I too strongly that the parents should stop at bringing up the kids and providing them good education.

But, it will be dangerous if people start showing the same detachment towards their own parents!!!

Bindhu Unny 16 March 2009 at 9:55 pm  

Santosh: Not taking care of parents is quite common. It should be a punishable offense, in my view.

Charakan: Let's hope the new-generation parents are different.

Sandeep: Detachment, I think, is not shirking responsibility. Unfortunately, some people express their detachment by running away from responsibility. And we see many parents being abandoned by their children.

Anonymous 19 March 2009 at 10:39 pm  

I secretly wish my parents should not be reading such things. I should make a will and get them to sign it as soon as possible :D Just kidding..
Great post indeed..

mathew 20 March 2009 at 12:41 pm true..If I imagine myself as a parent I would want my kids to stand on their on feet...but at the sametime i dont know if can convince myself into not thinking of their future as well..i think the idea of securing the future of children is ingrained in middle class society...but at the same time it shouldnot be a birth right of children to expect parents to fend for em for ever in their lives...

Sakeeb 20 March 2009 at 6:24 pm  

I too was thinking on the same line .. but what will happen to one's wealth after he dies...? whom should it go to.. chairty..? government..?

Bindhu Unny 20 March 2009 at 10:27 pm  

Seema: Ha ha ha. Making a will is not enough as they can change it if they wish. :-)

Mathew: Parents should help children stand on their feet. But should not forget their lives and live for the children - by doing this, their expectations from kids also increase. If both sides keep limited expectations, a lot of issues won't be there at all.

Sakeeb: Wealth can be given to anyone as one wishes. Our mentality of saving up for next generation and forgetting to live our lives need to change. As a kid, one can gently ask one's parents to do that. As a parent, one can inculcate such mindset in kids.

!! Oxymoron !! 28 March 2009 at 10:20 pm  

Hi Bindhu,
I loved this post!! This is a perspective that has never crossed my mind before..and now that it has, I think, hey...why not! Wonderful, thanks for sharing!

Bindhu Unny 30 March 2009 at 11:13 pm  

Oxymoron: Thanks. Let more people think like this. :-)

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