A good friend of mine, an advertising guru, wrote in his blog about how parenting stereotypes are changing and how kids are increasingly perceiving themselves to be the equals of their parents. At least, that is how I understood it. This, of course, is totally untrue in my case - my children would be mortified to be described as my intellectual equals. I currently occupy the position of earthworm in the evolutionary scale. It is true that I have a certain rude ability to solve algebraic equations but hey, just because a tadpole can swim better than you, it does not mean he is Ian Thorpe.
His point was that relationships at home have changed. Dads are no longer the authoritarian figures they were. That is so true. I remember my childhood. Important decisions were not 'discussed' as they are today. "Discussed " here means "the parents were formally informed by the kids of what they were going to do". Important decisions, such as what career to pursue or what clothes to wear, would be taken by dad or, on occasion, Mom, without any suffrage to the affected parties. Didn't like it? Free country, you could always leave the house.
Thus, most of my generation have a tremendously formal relationship with the male parent. True, the economic strings have long been disconnected but nobody told Dad that. We still behave as if half expecting to be thrown out of the house for our indiscretions. The whisky is hidden away. The language goes up a few notches in formality. The 'bahu' chooses the sari or the salwar suit instead of the capri and short top, when dad drops in for a short stay.
In sharp contradistinction (I love using big words - that one has 17 letters - because of the impression of erudition it carries, as opposed to actually being erudite) the relationship that dads of my generation have with their children border on the patronizing. The children patronizing the adult, that is. The male parent is usually a spent force when it comes to disciplinary matters.I know I'm making sweeping generalizations here. Some of you reading this will say, sotto voce, "Speak for yourself, wimp. My wife and kids tremble when I roar!" If that is so, please autograph my T shirt and send me your correspondence course on Parenting by Terror.
As I was saying, it is the kids who adopt the didactic tone instead of the other way around, instructing with painful patience the minutiae of CS (which is "Counter Strike", the game, and not "Company Secretary", the career option) to the doofus who, had he not been the fortuitous contributor of the necessary chromosomes, would have been unworthy of attention.
"Dad, how did you get to be in your position in life - you are such a clot" might be a typical sentence in most Mumbai households today. May be some advertising could be based on this insight.