Does your child touch your feet? One of the most important aspects of Indian culture is respect for parents, and for age.
Although India prides itself on having a rich culture and heritage, few Indian are aware of their culture and traditions, and it is not unusual for us to come across people from outside India, or Indians living abroad, who are more aware of India's rich heritage than we are.
For most Indians, being aware of our culture simply means touching our grandparent's feet once in a while, knowing a little of the Mahabharata, knowing that Rama was good and Ravan was bad, and not walking out of a marriage, no matter what the cost.
However, there is a lot more to culture than just this. In this article, we touch on just one of the many aspects: respect for age.
Children are often taught to respect age. However, as experience has time and again shown us, an elder person is not always right. If you try and force your child to listen to someone like a grandparent just because he is older, you may sow the seeds of resentment in your child. Instead of forcing your child to bow down before age, focus on teaching your child how he can express his opinion without being rude to his elders. Also, teach him that is perfectly acceptable to have two points of views for different situations, and, although he is perfectly entitled to his point of view, there is no need for him to force it on others. A common dispute between children and parents or grandparents is that of vulgarity. A child may be watching MTV, while his grandmother crops up and comments on how obscene a particular music video is. In such cases, teach your child that obscenity is a point of view. If your child doesn't think it is obscene, that should not form a base for argument. Teach your child that it is mature and open-minded behavior to let another person, especially someone elder, state his point of view, without jumping in to argue.
Youngsters today are often uncomfortable with touching the feet of elders. If your child feels this way, don't force him to touch your feet or the feet of his grandparents. Instead, work by example. If you don't touch the feet of your mother, don't expect your child to, especially if this habit has not been inculcated since childhood. If you would like your child to touch your feet every morning, make this a habit from his childhood. If he doesn't one morning, don't let it slide, or gradually the habit may die down. Every time your child touches your feet, do give him your blessings, and give him a hug. If you brush him off or are distracted, he may not bother doing so again. Also, children often shy away from touching feet in public, so it may help if you encourage him to touch your feet even in public, from a young age. Touching the feet of your parents is simply a mark of love and respect for them, and a request for their blessings. These days, generally only a person fairly self-confident and comfortable with himself, his heritage and where he comes from can touch their parent's feet in public, without feeling self-conscious.
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- The Indiaparenting Team