Indian norms on parenting are quite different to the Western world. Most Indians, I am sure, cannot recall a singular event when their father or mother offered them an apology, let alone a heartfelt one – for it hardly happens. Needless to say, in most cases egocentricity factors into such failed or avoided apologies as they seldom imagine it necessary. On the contrary, they view apologies as a sign of loss of power or weakness in authority. Consequently, Indian parents often construct a lot of lame, weird, and sometimes, outright bizarre explanations to prove why they are “right”. A parent in the high and mighty “indian culture” is somehow omnipotent and invincible for the “favour” they have bestowed by procreating and rearing their children. And if a child ever dared to remind them of their wrongs, out comes age-old dramatised dialogues skilfully playing on emotions. It is therefore not uncommon to see parents in India holding on dogmatically to their infallibility and the Indian child slowly learns that it is only by obeying their parents and not questioning their wrongs he/she will be loved. What impact does such parental behaviour have on an average kid ?
Abuse of authority, when it comes from parents who seem to genuinely care and possibly claim to “live to see their child happy” can often be far-reaching. The children invariably grow up to be adults who apologize simply to escape punishment. They learn to tuck mistakes under the carpet and be unapologetic about it, as long as none sees. Even worse, they grow up in to dogmatic and confused adults who misconstrue compromise to be sacrifice, fear to be respect and emotional blackmail to be benign persuasion. They tragically reincarnate into un-apologizing parents.
Although there is a lot of good in traditional hierarchical parenting techniques, no doubt, but one needs to admit that there are some not-so-good ones as well. Parenting can be a tough and thankless job at times but that said, one needs to constantly re-visit parenting techniques and need to evolve with changing times. We as Indians, need to learn that it is important for an adult to apologize because it shows the child to be accountable for one´s mistakes – a value system based on mutual respect rather than mere fear. It also teaches our children that apologies can re-vitalize relationships because the admission of guilt, explanation, and regret to a loved one are meant, in part, to repair the damage. Parents can afford to be open-minded and argue with their children, when necessary, with the force of reason. Likewise, they should yield to humility and apologize if reason necessitates. The real challenge of it is to learn “when” and “how”.
Apologies, are neither weak nor a shame or a loss of power either, in fact, it requires a certain greatness and strength in character. It takes courage to expose vulnerable parts of ourselves to our children, and show “we still love them”.We cannot change the generation “They” but we sure can change the generation “Me”. An honest apology, I dare say, is like a lover´s pinch – it hurts, yet it is desired.