(All details have been suitably masked)
“MY son could never…”
“Mrs Malhotra, I have other matters to take care of – could we please get to the point?”
“Well, Suneil ji, it’s just that, Mohit has been doing very well at school, but he seems to be very tired and withdrawn the whole day – he’s always holed up in his room and on his phone.”
“Looking at the amount of school work that some schools give, I must say I’m not surprised.”
“No – I have reasons to believe it’s not just school; I think he’s fallen for some girl.”
“Which is perfectly fine – at his age, he will naturally be drawn…”
At this point she broke down. Startled, I asked her what was wrong.
“I found evidence of him exchanging sexually explicit content with a group of friends from school and outside.”
The rest of the conversation went downhill from that point onwards: since I still (like to believe mistakenly that I) fall closer demographically to teenagers than to middle-aged parents, I chose to explain from the son’s side that it is simply a case of technology facilitating hormones, and not much more should be read into that. The woman was shocked, to say the least, that her Reiki teacher was endorsing such depraved moral values.
I wonder what the fuss is all about: parents of teenagers and preteens seem to believe their children, a “gift of God”, exist in a cultural vacuum where they will grow up straight from their prams to calculus textbooks right into a job and then marriage. Well, the last I knew it, that was never the case. With better nutrition and ubiquitous and incessant access to information, these children are doing what any sensible and intellectually curious person would do – experiment. Add to it the money that parents believe is a substitute for their time and parenting, and what we have is a very enabling environment (to lapse into management jargon for a moment) for puerile exploration.
Some delusions that we all suffer from
Frankly I don’t see anything wrong here: among some statements I have heard being touted over and over again are:
- “It is wrong for children to be involved in sexual relationships at such a tender age” – I don’t think so: once the body reaches puberty, the person is physiologically prepared for sexual relationships.
- “…Ah, but not mentally or emotionally ready” – So if this is a criterion, the logical conclusion is that people should first be deemed to be prepared for the psychological ramifications of sex by some expert or certifying body, and only then allowed to have sex. Thus in effect ruining the chances of any repressed Indian ever having sex again. Besides, what happened to learning on the job?
- “But it is so appalling to imagine my children – MY Bittoo! MY Monu! – kissing some girl when he should be out playing cricket, going to his coaching classes and coming home, drinking his Bournvita and going to bed thinking of his school and cricket games.” This gets more psychologically murky: everyone wants to believe their own children are somehow asexual, angelic beings. I don’t know how women deal with talking to their daughters about their first period, but I am yet to see any example of an Indian man having a normal conversation with his son about sexuality and sex.
- “What did I do wrong?” Besides being born in the information age? Nothing. Are you up for banning all item songs in all movies? Are you up for banning all foreign channels beaming into our homes? Do you want to block YouTube from India? In other words, do you want India to regress into a North Korea?
- “I’ll lobby their school for more homework and better moral science classes.” Of course – that’s why students never cheated in their exams in my classroom. Right before, during and after the moral science class. Did those classes help? Let me put it this way: after attending all those science classes, do you still believe “nazar lag gayi”? Do you still read Hanuman Chaalisa on Tuesday and Saturday in the hope that it will reduce some burden from your life?
- “But they have started sex education in school!” Have you ever sat through a sex education session in school? The way they squirm and hem and haw through the session, I don’t believe any child could ever develop a normal relation with their own sexuality if they were left to the devices of these sessions. Female instructors are (sometimes justifiably) uncomfortable around male students – if you want any proof, you can browse through those viral confessions pages on Facebook. Our own children, brothers and sisters are busy experimenting with their sexuality in the chemistry lab, behind the basketball court, in the washrooms, empty classrooms – basically, wherever they can.
Communication is key – as usual
In my opinion, the problem lies in the barriers of communication that parents and children build between themselves. And the burden of overcoming this barrier falls squarely on the parents: children, by parents’ own admission, are already stressed out over their studies, future career possibilities, and, let’s face it, raging hormones and relationship issues, such as they may be. Moreover, since the elder card is brought up so often in different arguments, parents must accept the responsibility part of that argument if they want to assert their rights over their children as the elder party. Parents have to learn that children are indeed sexual beings, and will act out their sexual fantasies whether parents want them to do it or not. It is the responsibility of parents to clamp down on any queasiness about the virtues of oral sex versus penetrative sex and talk to them about sex, and that too at the right age – before they start talking about Savita Bhabhi as their sex education classes, or start looking up to Kim Kardashian as the font of all their mores, sexual and otherwise.
(Image taken from www.youthministry360.com)