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Today when I was driving back home, I saw a girl, must be in her teens, fondly chatting with a guy of her age. They really seemed to be sharing a great moment together. I felt happy as I watched them having an effortless chat, and enjoying some lighter moments.
After having a quick bite, I took my son out to his favorite place, play area. I was casually chatting with other mommies when the topic came up. “These days girls are not bothered about their reputation, or their parents, so many girls in our campus can be seen mingling with guys, it looks so odd”, a mommy shared her opinion.
I decided to listen, rather than talk, which also is my most preferred and usual way!
Some other mommies shared similar opinions, “there should be some moral boundaries, some girls and guys can be seen together all the time, I am sure they are having an affair, how can parents be so negligent?”
I was confused, if I had to speak, I would have chosen to speak against the topic. So I decided to put myself in the dumb box and said, “I really don’t go to that extent, I just seen them chatting and not having an affair, my brain is not equipped to explore the other side of the relationship until it is evident”. And it’s true, I see things as they appear and don’t judge based on some past experiences or perceptions of the society.
Actually, I don’t think I am that dumb, but I have surely understood the meaning of friendship beyond the limitations of gender.
As a kid, I grew up in a small town, with only one decent school, which was a co-ed. So technically I attended school where boys and girls studied together, but in reality, it was as good as studying in an all-girls school. Girls wouldn’t sit next to boys, they wouldn’t mingle much, talks were restricted to topics related to books, home-work and exams. And moreover, your entire family studied in the same school, so you were always under the watch of your brother, sister or their friends.
My family was not conservative, in-fact this word doesn’t suit my family at all. So I was not under anyone’s watch, but of my own. I still remember that a good boy-friend of mine presented me a birthday card once and I kept thinking the entire day that how will I show it to my parents? What would they think of me? Will they think that I am having an affair?
Well, at the end of the day, I didn’t have to answer any questions because none were asked.
Somehow, talking and making friends with boys didn’t seem right. I have no idea, why this thought itself had registered in my mind because I don’t remember anyone in my family, be it parents or elders, telling me that.
So school went by, with lots of girl-friends, and some boy-friends with restricted access! And then at the age of 17, college happened.
From the so called co-ed school, I suddenly landed in the most modern (if that’s the right word) colleges of the country, where there were no boundaries, what so ever. I was free to try and do anything. And I did try, the most amazing relationship that can be explored and formed between two individuals, irrespective of their gender, FRIENDSHIP.
At the age, when I should have been in a love-affair (in true sense), I was actually just starting to understand the true meaning of friendship. And I personally feel, that the freedom to try out “anything” helped me do so.
The college was a co-ed by real means, guys and girls were always together, be it on benches in the lecture hall, canteen, the 15 minutes break during lectures, after college, movies, dinners or dance parties. And it was fun, forcing your friends to gift you a rose on rose day, can only be done with boy-friends. We shared a special bond, we were not romantically inclined towards each-other, we were “just” friends, we hanged out together. We clicked pictures holding each others’ hands, leaning on shoulders (if my mommy friends had seen me like that, I wonder what they would think of me ;)). We even saw other couples making out, nothing was hidden and left to our imaginations, and that gave us better understanding of deciding what was right and wrong for us.
I remember hanging out with a particular guy towards the end of college, and now this is officially on paper that we were just friends. And my mom would always call me to find out that I was with him. Well even though she is not a typical, “always worried” mom, she had her own doubts. And during my semester break, she prodded me, and I said, “no mom, I am not having an affair with him, we are friends”. She didn’t understand, “but you are always with him?”.
“So what? I don’t have my family there, friends are family, if I was always with a girl-friend, then you wouldn’t ask this questions, so why are you asking me now? Just accept it, its OK to have a boy-friend who is closer to you than your girl-friends! It doesn’t not mean that we are romantically linked.” She found it hard to accept, but she did, because she trusted me.
And to clarify the doubts in the minds of readers, that friend attended my wedding (which was not forced :)).
Now, you know that I am not dumb. I just understand friendship, and that’s why I personally feel that I can have a healthy friendship with any guy, because I am clear in my mind.
Coming back to the perception of mommies and parents in general, I feel we need to change. We have moved to metros but our thinking still comes from conservative backgrounds. It’s important to trust your kids and give then the freedom they NEED. As parents, we are the best judge of our kid’s needs and behavior. We need to develop a friendship with our kids first, to understand their friendships with other guys and girls. If you won’t let your daughter talk to guys then how can you expect her to decide who is good or bad when she grows up? And then she may actually end up in trouble because she didn’t have enough exposure! Believe me, I have seen enough girls falling prey, because they get all the freedom at once and they just don’t know how to handle it.
So finally voicing my opinion, I feel it’s OK to have boy-friends.
Would definitely like to hear from other mommies and daddies about their thoughts.