Advantages and limitations of Bringing up kids in India

Dear all,

I am doing a freelance assignment for one of my clients on the topic, “Advantages and limitations of bringing up children in India”.

Kindly provide your input on the same, so that I can use some of the points in the report.

These are some points I considered –

Advantages of bringing up kids in India:

Family ties – Family ties are given a lot of importance in India. People are ready to sacrifice their career (usually mothers take a break from job or leave their job never to return) in order to take care of kids. It is normal to see people taking a less-lucrative job or moving to a smaller town/smaller house in-order to be able to spend more time with kids.

Extended relations – In India, parents get all the information required for good parenting from their extended relations. Extended relations might include parents (both-sides), brothers and sisters in law, and possibly everyone who is related to these people. Yes, they are generally surrounded by a lot of relatives or at least keep in touch with a lot of relatives. Since these people are more experienced in parenting kids themselves, they pass on all required information to the new parents.

Joint families – While this was the norm in India earlier, these days its found more in rural areas and smaller towns. In this system, all the extended relations (as mentioned above) live under a single roof (single house with a common kitchen for everyone). All the work is shared equally among the various family members. This not only enables them to take advantage of economies due to scale, but also ensures that there are enough elders within each family to guide younger members on parenting.

Arranged marriages – Its strange, but true. A majority of older children do not select their life-partners by themselves. It is most probably decided by the head of the family or their parents. Since elders get actively involved in selecting the spouse for their children, they verify the background/character and other important factors of the prospective spouse. Sometimes, even the extended family plays a role in fixing a marriage.

Since arranged marriages are bonds formed between two families instead of two individuals, people learn to give more importance to family. If there are any minor (workable) issues within the couples, familes actively get involved to solve the problems. There are a few parents who stay together just because they don’t want their children to be exposed to emotional/financial disturbances that might follow a divorce. Rate of divorce in arranged marriages are considerably lesser than love marriages.

Importance given to disciplining – Both at home and at school, children are taught the importance of discipline, right from a young age. Bad behavior is not tolerated and children learn how to respect elders/parents from their peers as well as family members.

Avoiding being wasteful – Since children see so many kids/people around them starving/living with minimum resources, they generally understand the importance of not wasting available resources. Parents also make it a point to make sure that children don’t waste food or don’t get addicted to expensive video games.

Regular habits – Children are expected to follow regular habits at home, and they do. For example, they are expected to wake up early, sleep early (no late-time TV/cartoons), pray to God daily in the mornings (which is mostly a small thank you statement for everything that the child has). Since children are expected to do these things regularly, they get accustomed to it.

Taking care of elderly parents – Children are mostly brought up with their grandmothers/grandfathers around them. So, when they become parents later on, they find nothing wrong in their parents staying with them. Though this situation has changed drastically during the modern times, this was one positive aspect of Indian culture for many generations. Even now, the social circle of relatives often question people if their elderly parents are living alone/not living with them.

Karma – People in India have a strong belief in the concept of Karma. Religious philosophy teaches them that if they do good deeds, good things happen to them in-turn. If they do bad deeds, bad things happen to them. People don’t hesitate to do good things without expecting anything in return, on the short run. There are cases where relatives might bring up the children of their brothers and sisters in cities, if there are no educational facilities in their village. Mostly, they expect nothing in return and there is a good chance that they themselves were brought up like that.

Importance of education – Children are continuously reminded of the fact that what they become in future depends completely on their educational performance. Children too work hard and prepare for their exams quite religiously. Peer pressure in schools and the neighborhood ensures that they concentrate more on their studies, than on leisure activities. One need not be surprised if students in many schools have 100% pass percentage throughout their schooling.

Traditional hobbies – Children are exposed to traditional hobbies like classical dancing, singing and playing musical instruments from a very early age. They need to train under a specialized arts teacher (individual trainers, normally outside school) for around 10-15 years, before they get a chance to showcase their skills. This ensures that children are exposed to art forms from an early age, develop a taste for various art forms before specializing in one and develop skills mastering art for over a decade or so. This not only ensures quality but also develops a lot of patience (in children) in the process.

Encouraging modesty over individual achievement – This might be a controversial point, but Indians give more importance to modesty and keeping quiet about their achievements than boasting about them everywhere. In fact boasting by children (even with parents) is discouraged and students are made to think that they always need to achieve more. Of course, some degree of appreciating is always there (as they don’t want kids to feel dejected) but kids are generally expected to talk about their achievements only when someone asks about them.

Morality – The Indian concept of morality (at least as it existed for many generations) is to not encourage girls to expose more body parts (wearing a short skirts and showing hips while wearing jeans/T-shirts is still discouraged) and not encourage boys to look/ogle at girls, when they do that. Since whatever anybody does in schools/public places mostly reaches parents (due to their connected extended families and friends), children too find it difficult to indulge in such practices.

‘Character’ of potential spouses is an important thing that families inquire about (from other families and work places) before marriage. Children are not expected do things that might hurt their reputation. Besides, schools and colleges enforce strict dress-codes for both boys and girls and everyone adheres to it.

Violence/vulgarity – Many movies made in India might indulge in slightly excessive violent/vulgar scenes, but there is always a limit to how far they can stretch. Otherwise, people reject such movies and they are not even played on the cable TV network. Mostly, even those movies that highlight violence and sex will most probably have a positive message at the end, insisting that such practices are not good and children need to stay away from them. There was a point when there was no violence and vulgarity in movies, but these days commercial movies do include them. When exposure to such acts is limited, children think less about indulging in them.

Patience – To live in India, one needs enormous patience. Due to the large population, it is not always possible to plan/expand cities properly. So, there are queues almost anywhere. People need to patiently wait till their turn comes, to get any commodity/service. Since kids go with parents to shopping, (for instance) they get used to being patient themselves. It’s difficult initially, but it can happen and generally happens.

Social status – People inhabiting the large rural belt of India still believe that someone’s social status is not dependent on how much money they have, but how many donations they give to charitable causes such as village festivals and religious activities. So, philanthropy is actively encouraged in India and children learn from their parents, the importance of giving. Kids are even expected to give some of their toys to other kids (generally family members) and some of them even do it.

Food habits – Dependence on fast-food restaurants to eat their food daily is actively discouraged in India due to health concerns. Since one family member mostly stays at home, that person cooks and feeds home cooked meals to children. Families eat out rarely and during festivals, special dishes are prepared at home. Children are encouraged to prefer fresh fruit juices over soft drinks and eat home cooked food even at schools and work places.

Obesity – Due to the insistence of eating home-cooked food over eating at fast-food joints, people eat less junk food. So, obesity is found at much lesser levels, when compared to the the western countries. It’s common to find people following vegetarian or vegan food habits in India, and that contributes to lesser obesity levels, as well. People from economically weaker sections of the society may eat a lot of meat, but since their work is physically exhaustive, they stay quite fit.

Saving versus spending – India is still a conservative economy. People think a lot before investing money in fancy stuff and always invest in assets which have growth potential. So, it is common to see people spending on houses, gold jewelery and other such items whose value is generally expected to appreciate with time.

People in India think a lot before buying a car/expensive furniture as these items may not give a good return on investment in future. Of course, rich people indulge themselves but since the majority of Indians are in middle class, their attitude is more towards saving than spending. Children pick up this attitude from their parents.

Safe investments – People prefer investing in avenues that are safe such as Government bonds, and Bank fixed deposits than investing in riskier and potentially more profitable investments like speculating in share-trading and gambling. This ensures that money grows slowly but securely and there will be enough savings over time to spend on children’s education and marriages.

Exposure to multi-linguistic society – India has more than 29 official languages that are spoken by more than a million people each. Each Indian state has its own language and in addition to that, people are expected to know either Hindi or English. Normally, by the age of five, Indian kids are fluent in at least two languages and they get familiar with many more by the time they start studying/working. This is mainly because people keep moving from one place to another frequently, which increases their exposure and ability to learn new languages. So, children brought up in India can learn new languages quite easily.

Rituals – Indians have so many rituals embossed in their culture that are passed on from generation to generation. For example, in South India, children need to shave their heads at a very young age. This is followed as a ritual (passed on from generation to generation) but people also believe that hair grows faster/thicker due to this ritual. Children benefit from many such practices due to rituals that are followed to this day.

Alcohol and smoking – There is a minimal chance that children get exposed to alcohol/smoking when they are young. These habits are highly discouraged before they become adults. So, children are expected to get over their desire for such addictive habits than face the repercussions that follow from the society. Many Indians refrain from these habits even after they become adults. Good habits are as difficult to break as bad ones.

Sense of community – People have a good sense of community, in India. People are expected to help each other (whether in families or at communities). Since people live in joint families or close communities where there is a lot of interaction between everyone, people are not averse to helping others. It’s routine to request a sister-in-law/neighbor to take care of a kid while mom goes shopping, for example.

Limitations of bringing up kids in India:

No system is perfect. There are always some flaws in every system. While it’s important to take the best practices from elsewhere, it’s also important to be aware of their flaws. It is better to apply moderation, consider local factors and be flexible, especially when it comes to bringing up a child. Each child is different and many practices followed in India might not be directly applicable to children elsewhere.

The following pitfalls are directly or indirectly related to the Indian parenting system –

Over-disciplining might hurt the self-confidence of kids and they might become more shy. It’s always important to determine just how much discipline is right for the kids, and this definitely depends on where one lives (rural versus urban areas, for example). Many kids in India are shy and might communicate poorly during initial interviews by corporate companies.

Forcing kids’ priorities and parents taking decisions on their behalf, happens quite frequently in India). Since parents have a monopoly over children’s’ educational choices, they think that every kid needs to become a doctor or engineer. They really push their kids to achieve this goal, which basically stems from their own inability to become one or due to economic reasons. There is no point in influencing/forcing children to choose certain career’s over others. At the same time, children should also be informed about the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Since there is so much emphasis on learning and education, kids frequently take up to rote learning and memorizing stuff, in India. This is considered fine by certain parents and schools as long as the children score good marks. Long-term consequences of such practices are not considered in India, and parents here need to be aware of it.

Over-pampering kids is a problem with certain sections in India. Sometimes kids are given so much attention even though they are undeserving and haughty of themselves.

In India, there are traditions such as dowry (transferring money from the girl’s family to the boy’s family during marriage), forcing girls not to work after marriage, etc. Sometimes girls are aborted as only boys are supposed to be the bread-winners of every family. These evil social practices have their say in the upbringing of children (girls brought up differently when compared to boys of the same age, for example).

Some work-place practices in India (especially in the government segment) allow people to follow unmotivated/lazy work style. So, one can find the effects of such inefficiencies in almost every aspect of the society. For example, obtaining a government ID (like voters identity card) might take months, even for Indians living in the same place for many years. Children often learn such attitudes from their parents.

Since government jobs guarantee stable income and job-security, the practice of corruption is wide spread in India. It is possible to get things done by bribing officials and children may come to believe from a young age that corruption is a way of life.

Some people live on ancestral wealth and encourage their children to stay on with them and share that unearned wealth. This discourages hard-work and parents (in this case) don’t set the right example for the children to follow.

The latest computing/communications infrastructure and learning aids are generally not available to poor Indian kids. This might be highly disadvantageous in the wake of global competition.

Lack of skilled educators (especially in Govt. schools) may also contribute in not providing the best education to children in India.

Destination Infinity

PS: My personal opinion is that it doesn’t matter much on the long run, as the positives and negatives pretty much cancel out each other over a long-period. ( Actually, this is one of the biggest assumptions in the history of mankind as I can never scientifically back-up my claim  😮 )

You can comment on the advantages and disadvantages of brining up children in India, to add your views and additional points, to this discussion.

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39 Replies to “Advantages and limitations of Bringing up kids in India”

    1. But the document is specifically aimed at US people. But you could give a short opinion on raising kids outside India, as many points are common. Of course, you can mention the disadvantages of Indian system of parenting as you should be having a lot of knowledge on the same. I have a knack of adapting such points to suit my arguments 🙂

      Destination Infinity

    1. I was dependent on my scientific calculator during my engineering course. But then, there were no calculators earlier, so its a good point. Over-dependence of technology in US – point taken.

      Destination Infinity

    2. So accrd to you doing some calculation mentally and not using calcultor is the smartest thin on the earth ! With so many mental geniuses, I wonder how many world class mathematicians India produce and their original contributions(Pls don’t tell Ramanujam, S N Bose etc as these are few sets of examples that we are giving and will give for next 1000 yrs). Stop being myopic . India is a dead spot for any innovation. period. All it has produced (by all I mean 95% , don’t cite exceptions again) are efficient copy cat engineers and glorified technicians. In medical science, India with its 1.3 billion people havn’t produced 5 drugs in past 100 yrs(will not produce ever) as the roots of innovation are murdered right in the schools.

      1. It is true that education system is generally better abroad. If you feel that life is all about education and money (only), perhaps the US is the best place for you.

        Destination Infinity

  1. The kids outside India (don’t know about US) – advantages
    1. They learn english really well
    2. They grow multi cultural
    3. Secured, traffic free, pollution free life
    4. No pressure on learning and getting high marks or getting into entrance exams
    5. Not many schools have uniform code
    6. No many books to carry, or no lenghty homeworks or tough tests, since most of them are objective type or with limited words.
    7. They grow very independent,

    Disadvantages:-
    1. They don’t actually get the fun of growing in india,
    2. They dont play in the streets or socializing with neighbors…so they do lack a bit of socializing skills
    3. They don’t value the indian culture, traditions, language etc. so oft they don’t know the meaning of actual affections of patti and thathas and perimas and chitthis.
    4. They don’t know to read or write their own mother tongue or any indian languages, which is such a shame.
    5. Since they are too independent at very young age, it could be disadvantageous. They tend to be adamant and stubborn on their thoughts

    These are some of the observations I had over the last few years. However, all of these totallly depend on the parents and the way they grow them. My brother lives in US and he makes sure he speaks tamil at home. He preach slogas for the kids. So, its totally the way parents behave!

    1. Advantages –

      3. Traffic free and pollution free? I guess in the cities the pollution levels should be high no, I mean for the kind of vehicles they use? Perhaps the traffic is better managed. In India, its a sheer chaos!

      4. In spite of 4,5&6 all the innovations happen there! Indians should learn from this fact, instead of being a proud back-office hub of the world.

      Disadvantages –

      2. This can happen in India also. With independent houses and villas, especially.

      3,4. Why should learning about Indian culture, language and traditions be so important? I thought it was enough if they learn what ever it was required to survive and thrive in that place. Besides, having a ‘cultural baggage’ might prevent them from gaining social acceptance over there.

      Thanks for your detailed response.

      Destination Infinity

  2. Speaking strictly for India, I’d like to believe that kids are instilled values and traditions that help keep them grounded and connected to their culture – which probably also means that kids understand the importance of togetherness, tolerance and co-creation!

    But, my point does not in any way mean that kids in the United States are devoid of any such thoughts! Of the US, I do not know and in great many ways, of India too, I’m very ignorant!

    🙂

    1. Ok. So, they are brought-up in a more disciplined way. But can that also make them too dependent on parents/family and create inefficiencies/easy-go attitude towards life?

    2. With our education system itself, with all the drawbacks, children are going places. Yes, our children are made to go through lot of pressure during school years itself. But some adjust with the system and come out very well. The only main draw back is our reservation system. Except for a very low percentage, other communities are given opportunities to fare well over there. Here, just caste rules. Still children come out well and go abroad to serve that nation!

      1. The reservation system is only for the Govt. colleges and Govt. jobs. If someone works very hard and earns their ‘seat’ in Govt. colleges or Govt. jobs (in this open-economy era), I have one suggestion for them – Don’t join.

        Destination Infinity

          1. Ok, I take back my view on joining Govt. institutes. Maybe it was too hard a view, with IIT’s leading the way from the front. But people, please do think twice before joining a Govt. office.

  3. Many films are being directed to make it a point that Education System prevailing here should be changed.Prevailing education system is really a gr8 burden for the children who blong to India..I personally feel that there is no room for the students to gain knowledge..We are trained rite from LKG to be book worms.In a recent survey to test knowledge of students of the age 15(across the world),India was 2nd from last ..This is the major disadvantage to bring up a child here in India..The advantage is that the child will be brought in a good culture.We Indians are well known for our hospitality..This helps a child to be good at heart,reducing crime rates wen compared with other countries.

    1. I have criticized the education system in India earlier, and I agree 100% with what you just said. All parents/teachers/children want is marks. Its not important how they get it, or if they get it by mugging-up/through rote-learning. People do pay for this attitude later on.

      I am not sure if the children are brought up in ‘good culture’ or parents are just ‘over strict’ with them.

      Destination Infinity

    1. About India, whatever I knew as established facts, seem to be false. And whatever I thought were lies turns out to be true. Human life is strange 🙂

      Destination Infinity

  4. Melmaruvathur Adiparasakthi thunai

    Growing up in India or in US is not a matter of choice. It is more of fate. It is not that a family in India can go to US because children in US have better atmosphere. Also none of the US guys will come to India because children are better here. What I am saying here is it is the skill of the employed which matters not a family welfare.
    Advantages in US is there are a lot of opportunies if one is good skilled. Here in India one has to compromise and do sycophancy.
    You made a very strong point that if you get admission in govt. institutes or service do not join.
    Children growth is a highly difficult thing. My view is the child grows, Not that you make the child grow. Whether India or US hardly matters.
    Still in India you can teach cultural values, discipline. But they have to study hard to make a career by themselves. Because in India study is probably the easiest way to improve status.
    US I do not know.

    1. I do agree with the point that child grows by itself, absorbing various things from the environment. We don’t make the child grow!

      The child growth system in the United States is perhaps more geared towards making the child more individualistic/independent in life. So, the skill of the employed does matter a lot, and they go great distances enhancing it.

      Ok, I do take back the wording on joining educational institutes, but I still feel I would not join Govt service if I get a chance today.

      Destination Infinity

      1. I would say a most irresponsible and irrelevant reply to my comment.
        The topic is bringing up kids. Government jobs are better in bringing up kids as flexibility with timings is there.
        I like your absorbing from environment thing though.

        1. 🙂 Ok, I did not guess the connection you made with Govt. jobs and bringing up kids. One does have more time (which can be diverted towards kids), but that time comes at the cost of reduced efficiency, which starts with work and spreads to many personal activities. This is my personal opinion, and I might be wrong because I don’t have any direct exposure to working for any Govt. office. I hope I am wrong.

          Destination Infinity

  5. kids grown up in US and other countries, do not get into rat rice unlike in schools in india..they are more passionate about what they want to in life unlike in india where they are made to study hard and score above 99% .. kids in US are not parochial in their outlook like kids in indian schools…

    sorry for arriving late on this post !

    1. That’s right, not everyone are made to join engineering or medicine, irrespective of what their aptitude is/interests are. In India, at least this generation is going to face the repercussions of this ‘Doctor or Engineer’ culture.

      Destination Infinity

  6. of all the disadvantages u have mentioned, u forgot the health care system??? My sister is bringing up her soon to be 1 yr old baby..first in Portugal now in Denmark and the healthcare facilities are so good and convenient!

  7. Phew!! That was quite a post!! 😛

    I just read it and don’t know really what to comment since there is a lot to write 🙂 So I will skip it 😀 😀

  8. Rajesh:

    Quite an analytical post. I don’t see the need to add anything here. You have provided a detailed and comprehensive post on the pros and cons. The point which stood out from the analysis was the community life of India and the individualised life outside India. But somehow even in India, the cities esp are moving toward the individualist notion due to the effect of globalisation so one does not know how long the so called “family” closeness will remain. Let’s hope it does 🙂

    Joy always,
    Susan

    1. I should have probed the economic angle of this topic too. I mean, how our economic conditions/conditions in the west influence child rearing practices. I think it should be fine, if the cities want to move towards a more individualized lifestyles. There are pros and cons to being in families, as well.

      Destination Infinity

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