Here’s why I am teaching my kids it’s okay to not speak to relatives
I am absolutely not bothered about how others see my children, who are generally considered as very well-behaved.
I know that by reading the title, you will feel I am the type of person who does not encourage kids to socialize and mix with relatives much.
But let me tell you, that is not what this is about.
I have grown up in a typical Indian setup where parents encourage the child to be respectful towards all elders. Whether or not you connect with them or like them, or have anything to talk to them does not matter, I was taught that when there were any family members around, I was supposed to be good with them, and never ever speak negatively about them to anyone.
It was immaterial what I thought, as a good child, with ‘good manners’, I was supposed to listen to them and do as they said, and answer to whatever they asked.
I was always the ‘good’ child, till I started growing up a little and started noticing the flaws.
That ‘uncle’ who would try to get me alone in a room on the pretext of checking up on my homework, and then try to make me sit on his lap, and touch me in a way that a 6 or 7-year-old me still could not understand, but that felt very very ‘uncomfortable.’
That ‘aunty’ who would be so nice in front of my parents, but once with others, would start speaking about them in a way I did not like, especially when she did not realize I was around and could hear everything she said.
That ‘cousin’ of mine who gave me my first sip of alcohol on the pretext of being my ‘brother’, the one who said I should drink with a ‘brother’ so that strangers do not make me feel uncomfortable. And how, after I took a few sips and said I did not want any more as it made me feel sick, he leaned in, held me and kissed me, the way no brother is supposed to ever kiss a sister in the normal world.
Or ‘that’ cousin of mine who, every time I would visit my ancestral place, would try to come and hug me from behind, without my realizing, and touch me in a way that made me want to run away from that embrace forever.
My parents were never open with me about these things, and I too did not know how to tell them what I was feeling. I did try a few times, though not with too many details, and was told to respect cousins and elders, and be always nice to them, no matter what.
I did, till I was about 20 years old, which is when I found my voice and stopped this abuse towards me for ever.
Now, I have already told my children that the biggest thing to remember when dealing with anyone is to see if they are comfortable or not. If they feel even the smallest amount of discomfort, they don’t have to talk to them or be near them, even if they are anyone from the family. If they don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, they definitely don’t have to.
I am absolutely not bothered about how others see my children, who are generally considered as very well-behaved. If someone makes them uncomfortable, they have their mother to deal with. In this age and time, when our children are not safe anywhere, I would rather be a paranoid and over-protective mother, than regret signs I missed.
What about you moms? How do you teach your children to be safe, especially from people in the family?