Until I was ten years old, I wasn’t allowed to buy any video games that weren’t educational in some way. For this reason, my favorite game as a kid was “Math Blaster”. I also wasn’t allowed to play rated “M” games until I was about 15. When I got my learner’s permit, I was told I would be allowed to get my license on time but still wouldn’t be allowed to drive by myself until I turned 18.
Nowadays I play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin’s Creed (both rated M games) regularly. I have been driving by myself since I was 16- soon after I got my license my parents said that I had proven myself a save enough driver to earn the freedom of fully utilizing my drivers license.
My point is that Indian parents may seem strict at first glance, but when you dig deeper you realize that they trust you enough to allow you to break most of the arbitrary rules they set for you. If you screw up, however, these rules will quickly be re-enforced. Put simply, if you’re doing well, Indian parents will leave you alone, but if you’re not- then you’re in trouble. This is all part of the culture of ambition and success that Indian parents try to drive into their kids.
Now is it right for me to generalize about all Indian parents based on my experience with one set of parents? Obviously everyone, and every parent, is different. But I think societies do ingrain certain principles into the heads of all parents. If this weren’t true, how could you explain how in America light blue has become the color that is associated with baby boys and pink has become the color associated with baby girls? So I think that I should be allowed to generalize a little bit.
Promoting a culture of ambition and success is one of the biggest generalizations most Indian parents share. I talked to several friends about this and they almost unanimously backed up my experiences. “If you get a B, they get pretty mad at you. They want an A,” my friend Zaid Khanbozai said. “[They have] high expectations.”
Most of these “high expectations” are focused on grades and getting into college. If you ask any Indian student, they will all say that grades matter to their parents. A lot. My brother got a C for one quarter in AP Spanish and my parents got him a tutor. My mom wouldn’t let my ten-year-old sister quit Girl Scouts for two years, despite her whining and pleading, because “it looks good for college.”
Coupled with this emphasis on grades, Indian parents are also known for being extremely protective. “[My parents] want to know exactly where I am. [I get] constant phone calls from them,” Khanbozai said.
This protectiveness cuts both ways. In general, Indian parents will buy everything for their kids- video games, gas money, etc. But they also won’t let their kids buy anything for themselves. “They monitor whatever I buy. So I can’t really buy anything on my own,” another friend of mine, Leo Agnihotri, said.
If Indian parenting could be boiled down into one phrase, it would be “Great Expectations”. Indian parents may not be the strictest or the most protective in the world (although they certainly exhibit copious amounts of both of these qualities), but they are almost certainly the most demanding. “[Indian parents] always expect the best of you,” Agnihotri said. “They may not punish you the most but they always expect your best and you always want to live up to that expectation.”