CHOOSING TO BE GOOD PARENTS
As someone has said, parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to actually do.
In India, parenting is something everybody around you involved in; the grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbours and the list goes on. This is because there is an unofficial fundamental right to peep into how others are raising their children and make comments and suggestions and also teach them religious and ‘traditional values’ if they get a chance.
Yes, it is stupid, but unfortunately true. Joint families still exist in India, hesitating to break into nuclear ones. This makes it more common to have a lot of people getting involved in the process of raising a child. Even if the family is a nuclear one, the grandparents never step back from their ‘right’ to hover on their grandchildren to see if they are diverting from the traditional and conservative way of life.
Identifying and understanding a child’s sexual preference has never been a thing to consider in Indian culture because it has been fixed by others right when the baby is born. No more discussion needed. But it’s high time things change for a developed and educated society. Parenting LGBTQ kids is a unique experience in every country and culture, not only in India.
Before educating children, parents should be mature enough to develop their acceptance level instead of developing expectations about their child. Understand that your kid is not your property, you just got an opportunity to bring another individual into this beautiful world. This realization makes parenting easier and helps them to treat their child as another individual and not an extension of themselves.
Each person is different. Their opinions, likes, dislikes, choices, thought processes and literally everything can be different from their parents by a mere difference in the structure of a single DNA. Likewise, sexuality is also something we cannot impose on another person. Being a friend to your child is what you can do the best. Engage in open conversations with them about everything including healthy relationships, their friends, their attractions, sex, bullying at school, etc. Being there as a good listener makes your child mentally healthy. It gives them space and courage to talk about what they feel about sexuality. Not letting them totally rely on the outside world to determine their sexuality is what parents can do for them.
When they feel different, let them know that it is not abnormal. For that, getting involved in LGBTQ communities, and having LGBTQ friends and families in your life helps a lot. This helps the kids learn about issues broader than the sexual stereotypes. This not only helps them to identify their sexuality and to come out, it also nurtures genuine allies.
When it comes to sex education, it should start with the family from a really young age. Sex education in many countries doesn’t do what it is meant for. In India, sex education means FLE (Family Life Education). It covers topics such as sexual health, reproduction, male and female roles within a family, STD and HIV awareness, etc. Obviously, it excludes LGBTQ. There is no use of such conservative and propagandist sex education in a country.
However, communities and platforms like ‘The Rainbow Parents’ are emerging in India ‘Sweekar: The Rainbow Parents’ is a group of parents in Mumbai, India which helps parents to understand and accept their kids. It ensures a safe place for parents to discuss parental issues dealing with LGBTQ kids and helps them overcome the insecurity they feel to share it with the society
Not only India, but the whole world also has to take parenting to the next level by breaking away from the blind conservative, traditional and cultural constraints. Thus, facilitate mentally healthy generations free from depression, anxiety, emotional trauma, suicides, etc.
Indian mythology itself has numerous homosexual and transgender characters, but not properly studied and interpreted because of so-called rigid religious conceptions. This indicates that not all religions are homophobic in reality, but misrepresented as homophobic by ancient ignorant interpretations.
The concept of ‘Ardhanareeswara’ in Indian mythology is a beautiful epitome of the inclusiveness of sexualities. It is an avatar of Lord Shiva which is half male and half female. The avatar shows how inseparable and diverse sexualities can be at the same time. People worship Ardhanareeswara but fail to understand what it means.
If we decide to be good parents, religion, society, and culture aid you for that with good examples. If we decide not to be one, still all these factors will be there to make you more homophobic and emotionally stunted.
The choice is yours.
Author: Gopika Kalarikkal - A Professional Writing student at Humber College and a writing intern at Pride and Joy Foundation. I am an aspiring writer with a keen interest in poetry and spirituality and a homesick Indian girl in Canada who loves to get lost in scribbling down my stream of consciousness.