- Once Indian parents cross the border to the West a reverse shift happens
- Indian parents are unable to understand that once in the West do as the West do or else differences will arise
- Cultural assimilation is still a problem for Indian parents raising their children abroad
Norway has its own set of rules and has stringent norms when it comes to child abuse. They are absolutely right in telling India that they will be handling the case involving the custody of a child of an Indian family in accordance with the Norwegian Child Welfare Act, which includes directions from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Indian parents trying to bring up their children in the West is like a rhinoceros trying to fit in with the geese. They stand out despite how much they try to camouflage themselves. The abbreviation NRI can be spelt out in many different ways, chief among them is the Never to Return Indian and Now Return Indian (the brainchild of some genius).
Indians abroad proudly state this fact, you can take the Indian out of India but not the India out of an Indian. Same is the case with parenting. Indian parents, once settled abroad will behave like they used to in India despite the fact that they now live in America or Iceland.
You will have Indians desperately trying to stand out in a foreign land and claim their identity and force the same on their kids as well. This indirectly leads to a huge identity crisis for the children – to identify as Indian or as a foreigner? Either ways, the label sticks. Indian parents enrol their kids in International schools abroad, make the kids participate in Indian cultural activities, feed them a staple diet of Indian food, and stories of Indian culture, make them celebrate every Indian festival while abroad and even force them to be competitive in studies as they do in India.
While on the other hand, the child has to accommodate his Indian roots, be on par with his classmates, try hard to fit in to the local culture of playing sports, taking ballet lessons, being more independent and tolerant of other cultures. All this when they are in a foreign land.
This has been displayed pretty well in the movie adaption of Jhumpa Lahiri’s book The Namesake. Irfaan Khan and Tabu play upwardly mobile Indian parents who are trying hard to hold on to Indian tradition, while also trying to clasp at American modernity in order to fit in. The movie traces how the young couple tries to assimilate Western culture while yearning for their Indian roots at every instance. The Now Return Indian category fits in here perfectly.
In India no one will bat an eyelid when it comes to parents to disciplining their child. Why, neighbours might even step in to berate the kid if he/she is especially a brat. Most of us reading this will remember instances when as kids we were disciplined using canes, sticks, belts, shoes, rolling pins and more depending on which item was closer at the time of the event occurrence. Abroad, this is considered as a matter of child abuse and crime against children.
Children abroad have a more free rein, something which Indian parents are unable to digest. Parents’ rights have been diminished, children’s rights have been expanded abroad. Any matter of abuse against children is a serious offence which involves the child being placed into foster homes or given up for adoption to a set of parents who the authorities feel are capable of bringing the child without violence.
What Indian parents abroad fail to understand is that they must learn to adjust and accept and norms and culture of the place they have come to, rather than fight to make it another mini India. This is the opposite of cultural assimilation, this is a rather stubbornness to say no to other cultures and that is when Indian parenting lies at odds with the culture of the West.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:40 PM IST