Why the argument for doodh ka karz is flawed
|   Apr 03, 2016
Why the argument for doodh ka karz is flawed

Anyone who grew up in India in the 80’s-90’s and followed Bollywood movies would have most definitely heard this punch line as part of a wailing mother’s monologue to her son in the time of crisis – Tujhe mere doodh ka karz chukana hoga (Translation: You have to repay the debt of my milk that I fed you when you were born and bring me out of this misery now). Invariably, this would be followed by a shot of lightening and a thunderous soundtrack and then the dutiful son would go ahead and avenge whoever/whatever caused his mother’s misfortune. As absurd as it may sound, this has been the successful storyline of many a blockbuster movie and has led to creating an “ideal son” prototype in the minds of credulous young mothers. But I fail to understand, how is it that feeding one’s own offspring can become a favor and make the child beholden to the parent?

All right, I agree that the movies are more dramatic than real life, and certainly the 90s melodrama genre was, but it isn’t uncommon to hear subtler versions of this statement in households even today. Why is it that parents start thinking of their child as an investment into their own future and expect to reap benefits of financial or emotional kinds? I know that this might be highly disagreeable to some, but I don’t see my child as an investment for myself. Yes, I am investing my time, energy and other resources in raising this child but the only future benefit I hope to receive is the creation of a functioning and contributing member for the society. I want him to display compassion, sensitivity and love for all, not just me. I want him to use his education and skills to innovate, create and benefit the society, not just me. In this sense, my expectations from him are beyond my personal needs and while I put efforts to raise such a child, I find it hard to believe that he will grow up to be an uncivilised and uncaring individual, for others or for me. He is my investment for a better society, not just for myself.

I read recently that many parents keep thinking and worrying about one thing- that I am giving so much to my child today, what will he/she give me later? But the truth is, the child is already giving so much to his/her parents by virtue of just being in their lives. The love and pure affection that a child showers on their parents is incomparable to any other feeling. The excitement of reliving ones own childhood with a child is such a great pleasure. I ask parents one question – would you really have taken out time to dance in the rain, play with sand, jump around and laugh like crazy, if not for your children? I am not saying that life is not fun or interesting before or without kids, but it is hard to deny that they bring additional joy and contentment to their already accomplished parents. When we adults get busy in our grown-up lives, we forget how much fun it was to just sit around and observe the butterflies in the garden or how enjoyable it is to splash in a puddle of water. Most adults are always wanting to relive their childhood days and our children help us connect with that child who got lost inside of us. That in itself is a reward of immeasurable value. Children unknowingly force us to be better versions of ourselves. We try to be conscious of our words and actions and have better relationships for the sake of our children. Would that ever have happened, if not for our kids? How can we undermine this valuable contribution of theirs that they make 24 hours every day, simply on account of undergoing 9 months of pregnancy, 20 hours of labor pains, a few months of breastfeeding and few years of child rearing? After all, isn’t it our decision to become parents in the first place?

They don’t owe us anything, yet most children who are raised well will end up caring as much as they possibly can for their parents when they grow old. Then why fear, judge or pin unjustified expectations on them? In my opinion, making huge investments in parenting with the hope of achieving a certain return at a later date is as futile as making huge investments for a daughter’s wedding with the hope that she will have a guaranteed happy married life. There is no real correlation in the two occurrences and any investment should be made considering the capacity to do so and for the joy of it, not for any future return on investments. Our children are our companions in the journey of life, not our property. If you must expect, expect your children to grow up to be healthy, happy and successful, wherever they are. Expect them to truly care, regardless of whether they can express it the way you want them to express. The future is not in our hands, but the present is. We need to start being thankful to our kids for filling our lives with the joy of parenting, an experience that we wouldn’t have had without them. And trust me, this sense of gratitude is sure to rub off on them.

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