I salute ParentsWorld for publishing a powerful cover story ‘Don’t judge. Enable single parents!’ (PW February). As a single parent in the early years of the new millennium, I experienced social prejudice and disdain, and had to move to three different cities with my daughter.
In small town India especially, single moms are harshly judged and stigmatised for their personal and parental choices. For instance, when we were living in Varanasi, we were never invited to any social gatherings. But today the scenario has vastly changed. Now my daughter is in class XII and I realise that many of her peers come from single parent households. There is definitely more acceptance of single mothers than a decade ago.
Patriarchy deep & alive
Your cover story on single parent households was relevant and timely (PW February). As a single mother, I want to share with your readers a personal experience which has shattered my belief that social attitudes are changing for the better in India. Unfortunately, India is still a deeply patriarchal society with regressive attitudes towards women, divorce and marriage.
I faced an ordeal when I went to renew my child’s passport recently. Though my application clearly said that I was divorced, the passport office executive (male) unleashed a barrage of unnecessary questions about my divorce. When I replied that I wasn’t comfortable answering them, I was shunted from one department to the other resulting in considerable delay.
Again, during my child’s school admission interview, I was asked several questions about my divorce and financial status. It was embarrassing to answer these questions before my child but I had no choice. Given the rising number of single mothers in India, my request to school managements is to be more sensitive during admission interviews.
Acknowledge teenage suicide reality
Your story ‘8 ways to discuss suicide with teens’ (PW February) is an eye-opener. It is a common misconception that suicide is an irrelevant issue — most middle class parents including myself believe that it will never happen to our children. In fact, it’s all too relevant in today’s hyper-competitive era.
National Crime Records Bureau data indicates that suicide is among the most common causes of death among youth in the 10-24 years age bracket. Even more disturbing are media reports that a rising number of high school students are thinking about suicide or making the first self-injury attempt. I believe it is important for all parents to acknowledge that suicide among adolescents is a reality.
Bullying, sexual molestation, depression among other problems can lead adolescents to contemplate suicide. Children should know that they can rely on their parents for sympathy, advice and counsel when they experience depression and suicidal impulses.
Teach male children gender sensitivity
We are regular subscribers of ParentsWorld. My son often tries out the recipes included in the Health & Nutrition section. Unfortunately my in-laws make sexist comments about his culinary interest.
I wonder when Indian families will start changing their mind-sets and begin teaching male children to cook so they can learn a life skill and most importantly value the time and effort millions of women invest every day to prepare meals. Gender sensitivity and respect for women must be instilled in male children from young age.
Informative & well-written
Thank you for publishing an informative and well-written magazine on parenting. I enjoy reading the Health & Nutrition and Kid Zone sections. It would be interesting to also read first-person experiences of parents who have faced child-rearing challenges and their solutions. Please do consider including such a section.