Do parents owe children an explanation?

Children are a whole lot smarter and receptive that we give them credit for. They may or may not be able to fully comprehend a situation, but they feel things, and that feeling stays with them for a long long long time. As wise women say: you never forget the way a person made you feel.

I watched Queer Eye’s episode 4 (season 5) last night, and it got me thinking about the way children are treated in most South Asian homes. And then, I saw a post by AW Baloch, where a child is pleading Corona to leave them alone, so schools can reopen, as his mother gets angry at home and raises her hand at him. It broke my heart.

I don’t have children, so I can only share what I see as an outsider. I haven’t lived it, but something tells me that no matter what my child bearing status is, the following truth is just that – the truth.

(spoiler ahead – don’t read further if you haven’t watched Queer Eye season 5 yet but intend to)

So in the mentioned episode, a man struggles with self-worth and in believing that he deserves good things in life. And guess where it all come from? A misunderstanding between him and his foster mother, almost two decades ago.

He believes that she sent him back to his biological mother (who’s a very troubled woman) because in a fit of rage, he had written in his diary that he wished his foster mother was dead. A child, borne by a woman incapable of caring for him, with killing and drugs at his doorstep, is bound to have psychological trauma and rage, right? His foster mother sends him back to the same home, without much of an explanation. He believes that it is because she read what he wrote, whereas the reality is far from it. She had to send him back because she had to take her own daughter’s premature baby in (her grandchild), and the state wouldn’t let her keep two children. So, against her own wish, she had to let him go back. The problem here is that no one spoke to the child who was being uprooted, taken away from the only stable place he has had in his life to date. They assumed that as a child, he would neither understand nor cooperate, and decided to send him away without any explanation.

What followed was a life of struggles, which could have been maybe contained if only someone had sat him down and spoken to him. Would he have understood it all? Maybe. Would he have reacted in a rational manner? Probably not. But what it would have done is that it would have allowed him closure and a chance to move on without the burden of ‘I am not good enough for her love’, once he was up to understanding and accepting circumstances.

I read somewhere long time ago that talking to children as you would with an adult over serious matters only goes on to help the situation. Babying or discounting their feelings as they are ‘young’ and would probably ‘forget’ and ‘move on’ doesn’t always help, especially when you won’t be there to protect or answer them when they need them the most.

You know it’s matters like these that scare me of motherhood. It’s so much pressure, so much can go wrong, so many ways one can screw up. I am sure no mother starts out with a plan to raise her children in a less than perfect manner, but what when you are yourself just learning about so many things?

It’s so hard, and kudos to all the women and men who have signed up for parenthood. May you get all the strength, patience and resilience to raise good human beings, especially in times like now.