It is so difficult at times to tell our kids about India’s culture in one breathe, as it is so vast! Being from a conservative country as India, it is all the more difficult to get used to the ways and means of life in the US. I remember when my kid was stepping into the middle school and she had just learnt about ‘FLASH’ in 5th grade. ‘FLASH’ is sex education given to all students with the permission of the parents.
Parents are first asked to watch it themselves and then with the parents’ written permission the kids are shown the videos. Come to think of it, my daughter was just 10 when in 5th and I found it a little odd for her to know about menstruation, growing parts of the body and reproduction. But then, I found it logical that she too should know about it if her whole class is going to learn about it. It is all the more destructive to know such issues from friends instead of the proper source.
I knew that a few of her friends had ‘boyfriends’ in 5th grade itself!!! As I have been living in this country for 12 years now, this didn’t come as a shock to me. But realization dawned on me that I now had the need to tell my angel about the culture and traditions of India. I let her know in strong words that ‘We are Indians’ and ‘We are different from Americans’. Having boyfriends, dating is all taboo in India and such things wouldn’t be tolerated in our house. Though she is sensitive, she is smart too, and hence she understood my stand point.
Before she could question me, I told her that my husband and I dated when both of us had an education and got married after having a job. I’m sure she got my point very well. Having said that, I have trust in her and I have never behaved like a suspicious mom ever. I always feel that kids need to be given that space and they need to learn from the small mistakes that they make. Of course, if the mistakes are big, they would for sure, always have us to support them as parents. But prevention always is better than any kind of cure and so I had to give her a piece of my mind for sure!
A lot of my Indian friends feel that their kids shouldn’t have ‘sex’ education at school at such an early age. Their argument that in India we learn this in 9th or 10th grade is relevant only to India. Our tradition is different, or rather I would use the word ‘was’, as I see a great change in India and its kids today. Here in America, for Americans having boyfriends or girlfriends, dating, bringing them home, all happens pretty early. Teen pregnancies are on the increase. And so the schools find it appropriate for kids to know everything before they step into middle school which is from the 6th grade.
Not that these problems are not prevalent in other countries, India for one, but we turn a blind eye to it. We don’t want to acknowledge the fact that dating and teen pregnancies are getting their foot in India too. Is it because we are scared that out traditions are being tainted? Or is it because we think that by acknowledging it, we are paving a way for our kids to follow? I would not understand this. That way, we have to agree that Americans are more practical thinkers than we even know.
Another important aspect is that the growth of American kids is way more for their age. And so, it is but natural that they know the contours of their body, their hormonal changes early. Minimum menstruation age for the American girls is 11- 12 years. Hormonal changes lead to sexual attraction to the opposite sex. No wonder teen pregnancies are on the high! Not kidding, seriously, they are!
At any given point of time, of course, being the odd kid out in school, depriving them of knowledge which their ‘white’ counterparts know, is not advisable. I would say that in Rome, we need to do what Romans do or at the least know what Romans do, in order to survive with them!