18 June 2008


Indians returning home from the US are aplenty these days with kids in tow.Due to the brain drain, several found themselves pursuing studies and career there. In due course, they got married and had children(to get american citizenship) and sent them to American schools. Meanwhile, back home in Indian metros, life has changed for the better, with the flooding of MNC's which offer them negotiable salaries and perks, easily comparable with the best in the world. A chance to live closer to their now,old parents, while getting the best for their children and themselves is being increasingly the trend of thought.
Children in the US are greatly influenced by drugs,alcohol and most importantly,there is a lack of family values.In general, safety is a great concern. But, what of the children themselves? Does anyone take their opinion?Most have been to India to meet grandparents and a short holiday visiting places of tourist attraction. But, asking them to stay here can be difficult for the parents and has to be done tactfully depending on the children's ages. Parents also wonder about the schools and the curriculum involved.
I have had the pleasure of tutoring a few students such as these, during the last 2 academic years. Children adapt very well to situations depending on how the parents interact with them. Out of 3 of my students, only 1 went back to the US. As long as the parents create an environment at home that is a mix of both cultures, it is fine. Those that successfully adapted were the ones who had been exposed to Indian culture,food(most important),and general lifestyle while they were in the US. Even visiting grandparents always made an effort to speak to them slowly in their mother tongue, so that the children learnt to speak their language fluently. Food can be a cause for great concern, but the parents had made a habit of having Indian dinners with the family while in America. Whenever the parents go abroad on work, they bring back a long list of pasta sauces and several such products, so that the children never really miss their favourite Mexican,American or Italian food. Finding good friends in school helps a great deal so they can interact and grow. Choosing the right 2nd language can be difficult,as they have to learn a new Indian language altogether.
These students read more books-fiction,classics and played board games. They were willing to learn about Indian customs and learnt about various festivals and were keen to celebrate each one. Amar Chitra Katha was read by all the students voraciously in order to know more.
In contrast, our Desi students of the same age group belonging to the same strata of society,did not know the significance of festivals-they knew only the fun part.They did not feel the need for spiritual aspects in one's life and did not attend religious functions at home. Indian food is again a cause for concern as they prefer pastas,and pizza than traditional food. No amount of coaxing helps.Spare time activities were outdoor games, and net chatting,apart from video games. Desi kids all wanted to go abroad and stay there.This group got chocolates and gadgets and branded clothes whenever parents returned from a trip abroad.They preferred not to read anything apart from school books and that too,only during tuitions.
Both sets of students had travelled extensively abroad on holidays. Both were excellent students in their respective schools. All were extremely adaptable.It goes to show that children will definitely adapt with time-it is only the parents who worry unnecessarily.The most common cause for despair among both sets of parents was the food factor. Whether in India or elsewhere, all children go through this phase of not wanting home food or certain kinds of food. As parents,it is our duty to involve them in menu planning, take their preferences,prepare what they like,in addition to what they should be eating, and make them understand rather than coax as to why veggies or milk should be taken.

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