Nurturing superstitions in children is not the way to go

Nurturing superstitions in children is not the way to go

By KORAL DASGUPTA | | 21 May, 2016
In our largely superstitious society, parents often end up handing down their irrational beliefs and fear psychoses to their children, unmindful of how this can erode a kid’s sense of self-belief.

Recently, Adhyayan Suman’s comments on Kangana Ranaut had caused much debate. It pains to know that a well-educated boy from a high- profile background must speak so tastelessly, accusing the means and character of a woman, with whom something didn’t work out in his past. As a woman, and as a human being, I am frightened with the range of scope our world provides if someone wants to define a woman negatively. Education, upbringing or sophistication, nothing assumes more importance than a destructive vengeance.

The biggest issue I can trace in this case is superstition. And that’s what I explore in this parenting article.

Every house knowingly or unknowingly practices some superstition or the other, for the protection or well-being of the children. Some common superstitions from Indian households include not buying stuff for babies before they are born, black threads are tied on different parts of their bodies based on the practices of the community, a black “tika” must be put somewhere around their face, rituals to save the babies from “evil eyes” at least twice during the day, nails of the kids are not to be cut during specific days and specific hours of the day, and many others. The more inconvenient and complicated the rituals, the more impactful are expected to be the results.

Most of these are apparently harmless superstitions that hold different meanings and significance across generations. But the article today is not about how harmless or harmful these practices are. It is about how we allow them to impact or lives.

When my child was younger, I had a babysitter who often told me strange things. She said, a mother should not praise or love the baby in public because a mother’s “eyes” bring maximum harm to their children. She also told me that when a baby smiles in his sleep, it means he has dreamt that his mother has died; and when he cries, it means he has dreamt that his father is no more!

We as parents often don’t realise that our habits, functions and reactions would be the first thing to reach our children. By letting those superstitions to control us considerably, we only expose our weaknesses and stop the upcoming generations to approach life more meaningfully and scientifically. We allow the fear of the unknown to overpower us and pass that insecurity to our children too. But had we spent more time in enhancing our knowledge and tackling the unknown in a more practical way, wouldn’t it be rather self-rewarding?

When my child was younger, I had a babysitter who often told me strange things. She said, a mother should not praise or love the baby in public because a mother’s “eyes” bring maximum harm to their children. She also told me that when a baby smiles in his sleep, it means he has dreamt that his mother has died; and when he cries, it means he has dreamt that his father is no more!

Come to look at it, most of the superstitions that we follow are demeaning towards women. Explaining these to a person from the lower strata of society is futile, because that is what she has seen, believed, practiced and grown up with. Their faith won’t change overnight. But the saddest part is, even the educated and the sophisticated fall prey to these, allowing their lives to be considerably defined by things that mean nothing.

A friend from a particular community in West India once told me that in their customs, the birth of a son is celebrated with a grand ritual. Birth of a girl, however, is as calm as it is on any other day. “Everybody wants a boy. So a boy needs to be protected from the evil eyes much more than girls,” she had reasoned. The devastating part is the role that superstition plays in our lives. The discrimination apart, we are just so fine with the thought that a ceremonious declaration can offer the necessary defence to a newborn. Many might argue that these are the different ways in which we secure peace of mind; and that’s exactly where I come from. Why should these be the source of our peace of mind?

I find a lot of people talking against the evils of society. But seldom do we realise that most of these evils, be it corruption or discrimination or lack of education, usually stems from the superstitions that we grew up with. If the generations ahead must approach life with better knowledge and upbringing, it is extremely important for us, the parents, to instil faith in their and in our abilities rather than giving superstitions any place in our lives. Once we allow it to take over our confidence, it only enters deeper affecting our lives further with each passing day.

Fear for the unknown can never he healed by the unknown. It can be healed only with consciousness and awareness.

By resorting to those statements, Adhyayan Suman harmed only himself and no one else. Had superstitions not been a part of his faith and upbringing, perhaps he would have let go and acquired indifference over a failed relationship, instead of trying to demean someone with weird accusations. That’s the quality of life you choose for yourself and your children, if you resist superstitions and take an informed call to push it out of your lives, saving yourselves and your children in the process.

Your choice.

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