“After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

“After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

Why do you think?

“For a man to be labelled a bad father, he needs to be a wife beating, severe alcoholic/spendthrift, good for nothing.

For a woman to be labelled a bad mother, she just has to be 5 minutes late in coming from the kitchen while the child is crying in the living room. That needs to change.”

Read more at: Indra Nooyi and her children.

I agree with:

“Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers. They do not have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons. Liberation was meant to expand women’s opportunities, not to limit them. The self-esteem that has been found in new pursuits can also be found in mothering.”

“The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.”

― Elaine Heffner

Related Posts:

Why are mothers ignored, asks SC

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet?

Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

“I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything…”

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

What does it mean to be a ‘mother’?? – Shail Mohan

On Mother’s Day… – Shail Mohan

How would you react if you knew your son (or daughter) felt this way?

41 thoughts on ““After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

  1. “After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

    One of the perspectives is that of evolution:
    I think this is some kind of an evolutionary reason behind this. Fathers were never meant to look after the kids forever. They used to go for hunt. Mothers used to stay at home, look after kids and all that. We are more attached to mothers than fathers.

    So naturally a son or a daughter looks for his/her mother during inflecting times.

    But, as we are more consciously evolved now, I think labeling mothers ‘bad’ just because they can’t give their 100% is not justified at all. We are far from the goal of survival now.

    Now, It wouldn’t matter to our survival if our mother is away for some time. And we should be aware about the equal rights for both gender.

    Another one is a major shame and embarrassment for us:- Indian social conditioning of how man and woman should be dealt with.

    A father is somebody who can do anything and get away with it. A mother, if causes a little bit of distress at home, even if unintentionally, she is just the worst woman. And the logic we give behind that is that there is no logic. We just have been taught that men are superior than women.

    That’s really unfortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mothers need to teach their children to respect boundaries. Of course this doesnt mean that a mother will ignore her one month old baby but there comes a time when children can understand. It’s society that points fingers at a mother who needs time for herself. The cult of the enslaved mother is glorified in a country that wants to enslave its women somehow or the other.

      Like

      • Mystic, you are being hard on Indians (including me). Indians have no intention to enslave women. They are a victim of centuries of traditional subjugation shrouded under culture. See, if women had stood and fought a century ago for their rights like they are doing now, no woman would be enduring what they go through now.
        Change needs time. I believe women earlier were worried they’ll be shunned from society or frowned upon by peer women, if they raised a voice. have patience and keep revolting. The next generation will change.
        PS: Slamming all Indians doesn’t reflect well as a statement, and will only draw negative criticism even if you are right.

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    • I think this evolutionary perspective is also a wrong one. When u talk of the man as a hunter, it indicates a hunter-gatherer society. In such a set up women were gatherers. They were gathering fruits, nuts, eatables and not always sitting at home with kids waiting on them hand and foot. Besides in such a scenario, there was no family planning and so child care was not provided by mothers who were giving birth to more children but by elder siblings.

      It is wrong to give an evolutionary excuse when in effect it is not true. On the other hand this evolutionary excuse gives a reason for the bigots to tread more on women’s rights.

      Like

      • Yup–using evo psych and bio to justify modern day sexism, racism, and even genocide is completely flawed. In fact, neurosurgeon Ramachandran and written a hilariously witty satire on this that we had discussed in my evo-psych class.

        Like

  2. I agree with you. I am a son of 23 years of age. And it took me 19 years of my life on earth to understand this.
    Family should cut mothers some slack. She did not come into a home to “serve” the kids and her husband for life. I suppose, children inherit this trait from male adults among whom they live.

    Like

    • Nodding head in agreement, except the last line.Its not just ‘male adults’, its all adults.
      To be honest, in a joint family set up, everybody orders around the bahu.Wheres my hanky, wheres my shoes,have u seen my glasses,can u fetch me my newspaper, wheres my chai, etc etc.
      Besides, if kids learn entitlement from the male adults of the household, then why cant they learn the opposite from the female adults(,daadi,naani,bua etc)how not to treat mum like she is everyonne’s slave?
      I hope I got my point across.
      Congrats arpit for having learnt that Mum is a person first and only then she isyour mum.

      Like

  3. ““After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

    Because they are children? They want the security that their primary caregiver being around gives. As they are older they may want it less. Children may also differ in how “needy” they are.

    The primary caregiver need not be the mother, and it need not be only one person. But let’s not diss the advantages of having a stable caregiver there for kids (and this caregiver could be a daycare also, but the main thing is whether the kid feels secure). This person may not hover over the child, but it’s the presence that matters I think.

    There’s a difference between a parent who does a half-day teaching job and a parent who’s a CEO. Nooyi and her husband appear to have high profile jobs. What I appreciated about Nooyi is her candor in that interview – she acknowledges that her daughters might have found her parenting lacking, and she doesn’t counter that viewpoint. Maybe her own ‘rating’ of herself is fair.

    I myself don’t rate myself as a great mother. I think I’m average. And that’s not because I’m holding myself up to society’s standard. I’m using my own standard. And I have no problems being average.

    Liked by 1 person

    • //And I have no problems being average.//

      That is good. But not all mothers feel that way.

      Moreover, I think if you rate yourself lower down the scale, do you think you have set quite high benchmarks for parents (mothers), which they possibly cannot meet if they were to balance their self-interests?

      My mom was an Army wife and a homemaker. But she had to be away at all these parties and dinner nights. Also, she was singlehandedly managing the household so I was actually not spending a lot of time with her. Whatever time we did spend together in the initial stages at least, i feel it could have been more of “quality” time. When she did get calm free time with me, either we would be surrounded by others, or she would also be doing some other chore, or she would be to sleepy. While, I would be wanting to talk for hours. Doesn’t make her a bad mother in any way.

      Also, it’s a huge myth that non-working women bestow time on their children. My husband grew up in a joint family and was the eldest child. According to what I am told, his homemaker mom only got as much time with him as was required for feeding, bathing, clothing, cleaning etc. The whole family would take turns watching over him when he was a baby and they were baby-crazy enough to hardly let the mom and child have their own time. In its own way, this is oppression of sorts for the new mother, but also busts a myth – kids do not really need moms with them all the time.

      Time is not a measure of quality. It’s what you do with that time which matters.

      Like

      • “That is good. But not all mothers feel that way.
        Moreover, I think if you rate yourself lower down the scale, do you think you have set quite high benchmarks for parents (mothers), which they possibly cannot meet if they were to balance their self-interests?”
        I don’t set benchmarks for other parents, only myself. One thing that happened after I became a parent is that I realised how nonsensical it is to judge other people’s parenting. Nooyi was commenting on herself and not other mothers and I choose to take her statements at face value instead of going “no no, you are a great mother” as many are automatically want to do when confronted with a mother who gives herself less than full marks.
        My point was that just as parents today are advised to not overpraise and tell their children they are the best at everything when they are not, parents can do the same for themselves. It’s ok not to be the best at parenting. It’s fine if you are just okay. It’s possible that someone at the helm of a multinational corporation is not a great parent (by their own standards and that of their children). Hopefully there were others to pick up the slack.
        I deliberately used the term “primary caregiver” and not mother. And I mentioned this could be anyone – even daycare. If it’s a group of people collectively caring for a child, my guess is that there are one or two people the child feels closer to and safer with.
        “Time is not a measure of quality. It’s what you do with that time which matters”. Quality time was the mantra of our (or was it our parent’s) generation. I think though that it’s easier to provide quality time when you actually have time to provide, and working parents (I am one) have to make more conscious choices to carve that out. I get an hour with my kids before work and two hours after and I’ll admit that I am tired and pushing myself during those two hours. Also, watching my children, I can see that presence (even inattentive) matters to them. They can be playing on their own, but it means something to them to have the caregiver in the same room. I’m speaking of young children…when they are older it may be different.
        My comment was in response to the question: “After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?” A kid will want their primary caregiver to be their whole world, and not just because of social expectations though those may play a part. However, that does not mean to say the primary caregiver need give in wholly to the kid at the expensive of himself/herself. It’s a balancing thing.

        Like

        • Good if you do not rate others.

          Best wishes.

          I totally sympathize with you when you say you push those two hours. I am not a mother yet, but I know it will come upon me some day. This whole thing about pushing yourself scares me to avoid parenthood.

          I have lots of dreams in life, and even if I do not spend time or do things that are touted to be ‘ideal’, I will still not consider myself a bad mother. Some mothers make decisions. Some mothers implement them themselves. It’s just one working style against another. I think this whole idea of ‘average’ or ‘above average’ is in itself very unfair. Why should we be rated at all?

          That is why I said, it’s nice if you are comfortable being what you rate an ‘average’ or ‘not the best’ mother, but the whole point is – there should not be any such rating. There is no real benchmark on who is a good or a bad mother. No real metrics to measure that. Neither time, nor quality time…

          In the end, the kid must turn up as a healthy and well rounded individual who has no issues in any aspect – mentally or physically. Sacrificial mothering is just one means to this end – not the only one. Definitely any rating scale would be unfair.

          Like

        • “In the end, the kid must turn up as a healthy and well rounded individual who has no issues in any aspect – mentally or physically. Sacrificial mothering is just one means to this end – not the only one.”

          Staying at home doesn’t mean you are a sacrificial mother. As it happens I know many stay at home mums who are using their free time to write and do other creative stuff, and community work. Some other women may use their free time to paint their nails in front of the TV and nap, it is also fine, in my opinion.

          It is simply not possible to have “no issues in any aspect – mentally or physically”. Everybody has scars and one may say it is what keeps us going as individuals.

          Anyone who becomes a mum has to work through her relationship with her own mother. And just as your mother gave you good and bad memories, you will give good and bad memories to your child. That’s the story of life.

          Like

    • I agree the Bride. It’s all about stability and emotional security for the child. And if a mother can’t give this to her child, or only part of the time, for whatever reason, it is important someone else does it.

      I have no problem being average either🙂

      Like

      • My point in writing this piece wasn’t about being high flying or average. My point was that nowhere in the entire thing does it comes across as if Nooyi had a conversation with her daughter who was upset about missing school meetings. The conversations she describes arent those of a very young child but of a child, who would understand if things are explained to them. And this is precisely why I mentioned that the children had other perks too of having such high flying parents. It doesn’t seem from the conversation on The Atlantic that Nooyi’s children were badly abandoned. Yes, she wasn’t there a lot, yes she co-opted others in her parenting. But perhaps the children also know that the comforts and riches they enjoy and take for granted is also because their mother had this high flying career. By no means was I minimising the child’s discomfort. What I felt wasn’t done was a talking to by the parents and others, explaining the trade offs that life generally is. In the entire thing, that is what I agree most with, life is about various trade offs. And I know enough parents who sit down and explain to the kids as to why they cant get them that expensive toy rather than point out that other children’s parents also haven’t bought those. But mostly I feel Indra has taken on way too much guilt that she needn’t really have.

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        • Ah it becomes clearer. I did read your post, but I got the sense that the core message was about why children expect what they expect.

          Many people have focussed on the absence of a conversation with her child, not so much on trade-offs but on the gender bias in expecting only moms to be there for coffee mornings. There’s a difference between explaining why a child can’t have a toy, and why a child can’t have a parent’s time(though both involve money). I think even if she had had that conversation though, her daughter, if she was able to articulate it at that age, might have said that she would eschew some of those perks for her mother being there more.

          At the heart of it, that’s the issue in this case – it’s very hard being the child of a high-flying parent. This is not to say that parents should not pursue their high-flying dreams (and there’s a difference between what it takes to be at the top of your field, and to simply have a career and provide a comfortable lifestyle), just that we must be ready to face that the benefits of high flying are not necessarily for the children but for the parents (which is fine in its way).

          I felt the opposite from you about Indra. The guilt is inevitable in these times where there is such a barrage of conversation around parenting (our conversation is part of that). I thought Indra dealt with hers quite well, by facing it and brushing it off.

          Like

        • It’s not guilt, it is realism and maturity. A child has every right to resent his parent’s behaviour. If the parent is mature enough, he will accept the child’s feelings rather than try to manipulate him to see the situation through the parent’s eyes.

          As a working mum, I decided not to go for the big corporate jobs in order to have reasonable time with the kids, we don’t have a cook or a maid either. I’m comfortable with my choices. I don’t envy stay at home mums, I don’t envy the high flying women. It’s up to every woman to find the compromise she feels comfortable with.

          Like

  4. It’s because traditionally we see mothers staying back at home, sacrificing their jobs, and in general dedicasting their whole life towards their children. The father’s role is not so prominent. Even now if a man changes his child’s nappy or takes him/her to school, that is seen as a special case, whereas it’s expected that a mother will leave her job to tend to her baby.
    But I think the times are changing now. More and more women are returning to work after delivery. The attitude of the society is slowly changing. Though it’s still a very long way to go.

    Like

  5. Glad you brought this up IHM. I have very strong feelings about this and have had huge arguments with people when they say ‘That’s what mothers are meant to do’ as though a mother loses all right to have any desires, needs or time to herself one she gives birth. Ridiculous expectation.

    Like

  6. I just met this kid and her software engineer mom at a function. This little girl was begging her mother to take her to the daycare centre, although it was clear that the kid was fussing all over mom and totally attached to her.

    It shows three things:
    1. Kids growing up away from mothers do not get detached from their parents, if the parents know how to balance and maintain the relationship in the given time

    2. Kids don’t resent creches and daycare centres always. In fact, they probably may enjoy the company of other kids and people instead of mostly adults at home. This is even more true for nuclear family setups where there aren’t other children to play with

    3. Kids pick up a lot of skills when not fussed over by adults. And most parents aren’t wise enough to let the larva break out of its cocoon on its own. They help out for everything, ultimately crippling the kid of survival skills required outside home

    If a mother, or any parent, sacrifices their ambitions or dreams for parenthood or the perceived duties of parenthood, won’t they be unfit examples to lead the child with? That dreams and ambitions are not meant to be pursued but are basically disposable? That you are meant to lose yourself for others, including your children? That your personal worth is to be judged from your relationships?

    What kind of generation are we spawning forth?

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  7. There is something that I want to understand though about kids and their mothers. Do children have a choice when it comes to being born? Aren’t they given birth to by their mothers without being asked if they would like to be born or not? I am sure given a choice, they would like to know what’s in store for them and then decide if they want to be born or not, more so if they want to be born as children of a particular mother. Given this, shouldn’t the mothers be responsible to the person that they brought into this world?

    Like

    • If mothers have given them birth just on their own , without involving fathers , without being pushed and pressurized by society .. yes then till the age when they are totally dependent they deserve care and support from mothers .

      But when a 15 year old walks in to the house and cant even fetch himself a glass of water or warm his own food in microwave or iron his shirt , there is something wrong with the entitlement .

      I also feel that parents and govt has responsibility of taking care of education till 12th , after that children should know how to fund it . Parents and scholarships should be there, but not like parents have to sell properties to pay for children’s education .I have seen children making their parents feel guilty for not having a bigger car , funding for expensive education and cooking as good as neighbor’s aunty . There is no end to guilt trips if you start feeling guilty for everything.

      Like

      • “I hope you do know that it takes 2 to create a baby?”

        Yes, sure it takes 2 to make a baby. But ultimately isn’t it the mother that controls whether she wants to get pregnant and bring another life into this world or not? In any situation, women can refuse to be mothers. I understand that in some cases it wouldn’t go down well with husbands or their families, relatives etc..but that’s like every other disagreement. One will have to make a choice, right? This is something to be discussed and agreed upon before marriage with prospective grooms too. My limited point is that women can refuse to be mothers and I very well realize that it may lead to divorce etc…which should be fine as any other disagreement can lead to divorce as well.

        ‘But when a 15 year old walks in to the house and cant even fetch himself a glass of water or warm his own food in microwave or iron his shirt , there is something wrong with the entitlement .’

        Again, what I understand from the above is that you want to bear children and then you want to control their lives. Where does the desire to ‘train’ him come from? What about the rights of the children? That 15 year old didn’t ask you to bring him into this world, right?

        Like

  8. We have a 10 month old son, who started full time day care in the US when my mom went back to India when he was 6 months . He is not only attached to us (me and my husband) but has also formed really attached bonds with his day care primary teachers. He has a lot of fun there and always seems really happy whenever I go to pick him up. I read a very nice book by Cristine Carter: raising happiness, where she mentions that it takes a village to raise a child. I found this statement so very true! While in the initial couple of months, prolonged mother-child, father-child bond is definitely beneficial (more for feeding on the cue, making the baby feel secure so that it knows that its needs are met by the primary caregivers-mom+dad), once the child starts recognizing his parents as primary caregivers, it makes sense to expose the child to other people so that it forms attachments outside of his parents (this can be grandparents, friends, day care teachers, elder siblings). It is not only beneficial for the child, but for the parents as well.
    Also, I really do think I am a very good mommy! I dont have any particular benchmark that I measure myself against, but the fact that I do try to research all the options for the baby before chosing the best one for him and myself, is what makes me good IN MY EYES. Also, I find guilt to be very non-productive. Hence, continuously thinking of myself as a bad/average mommy makes no one (me/baby) happy. The fact that most of us always do take decisions with the betterment of kids in our minds, make us good parents. These decisions are different for different families, but they are what works for that particular family.

    Like

    • //Also, I really do think I am a very good mommy! I dont have any particular benchmark that I measure myself against, but the fact that I do try to research all the options for the baby before chosing the best one for him and myself, is what makes me good IN MY EYES//

      Great!

      Mothers like you reassure scared-of-babies 20-somethings like me.

      Like

  9. I’m almost hearing that men are slackers (w.r.t family, of course) on this thread. My father was always guilty of not being a good father in more than one way – he would compromise on work (at times) to make time for us, and keep searching for avenues to make more money. My mother had no concern where the money came from, really. That was really the split of responsibility.

    I can’t make sense of this post. A father who isn’t concerned about earning more for his family and making their life comfortable is a sore loser.

    Btw, Nooyi doesn’t say the man was guilt-free, she does say he didn’t do the shopping on one day though. That is so incomplete and lacking detail, that we can’ make sense (good or bad) of it.

    Like

  10. “After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

    The journey of a human being starts in the womb of his mother where everything is provided and life is all about fusion. From the moment of birth the journey is all about individuation ; becoming an individual separated from his parents.

    My MIL had 8 children and that did not stop her from working in the family shop.

    If she could do it 50 years ago, in a village what’s more, why can’t modern young Indian women do it today ?

    Like

      • Please don’t be patronizing, she had the choice, she could have aborted for instance.

        You miss the main point : she had kids AND a career, 50 years ago. Just like many “working class” women.

        And another point : in large families, no child feels entitled to their “mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality”.

        Like

    • //If she could do it 50 years ago, in a village what’s more, why can’t modern young Indian women do it today ?//

      You cannot compare everyone.

      And, she will definitely have made some tradeoffs to balance this life. What is someone feels the tradeoffs are not worth it? Not everyone is baby-crazy. Some just like to admire kids from a distance.

      Yeah, of course, those who choose to be parents must be prepared to make certain trade-offs. If not, they shouldn’t become parents. But there is something called “choice” in the matter of which trade-offs to make. Ultimately, no path is easy – it’s just which one you find easier.

      Like

  11. “For a woman to be labelled a bad mother, she just has to be 5 minutes late in coming from the kitchen while the child is crying in the living room.”

    For a man to be labelled a bad father, the child has to be without basic needs such as food, clothing or shelter or fees for school for just a short time. A mother unable to provide those basic needs for her child will not be judged as harshly as society would judge a father.

    Like

  12. Way back in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, people were screaming bloody murder over growing day cares in North America–and the cultural practice of leaving kids in day care. Most studies conducted to see the psychological functioning of kids who were in day care as opposed to kids who stayed at home with a stay at home parent shows that kids from day care had far more social skills than kids who were constantly isolated at home.

    I see India going through the same day care paranoia right now. The only thing is, North America is far more organized in terms of the criminal justice system and once an offender is classified, it’ll most definitely show up during a background check. In India, it’s still a disorganized mess (are criminal files even computerized? I know that foreign registrations are not–it’s all paper). How does one even begin to do a complete background check (especially for individuals who work with children)?

    Like

  13. The answer to the question is simple.Kids learn by observing and mimicking.
    My 2 year old nephew, when asked to go seek Mommy,during a hide-and-seek game, will first go look in the kitchen,and only then search other rooms for Mommy.
    Why?
    Because he finds Mommy does all the kitchen work.
    If children notice that it is always Mommy who does all the cooking,cleaning,laundry,grocery shopping,etc then there is no reason they should think of mothers as people.
    If every member of the household behaves like lazy couch potatoes,then why should children not emulate such behaviour?

    Like

  14. Do kids really feel entitled? Sometimes maybe, but definitely not always in my opinion. I think it is society which expects wives and mothers to give everything they can and beyond and judge them for any perceived failure. Society can be harsh on women. I have seen women judged for working, for not working, for being fashionable, for letting themselves go, for not cooking for family, for cooking too much and causing weight gain, and for neglecting kids to spoiling them! Many times the judgements come from other women. I think we should just leave people alone, and not point fingers when their choices and way of life are different. To each his/her own.

    Like

    • @anna
      wives and mothers are indeed bein judged, even if they are succesful. Society loves to forget that success comes at a price even for men.

      Like

  15. I am a mother of a two year old. I have found that after becoming a mother, there is an even further immense pressure on the mother to be supermom while the dads have no expectations or get rave reviews when they do something simple. The expectations and the pressures of perfection on mothers must stop – how they should behave, how they should look, etc. No wonder mothers have burnouts!

    Like

  16. Pingback: The joy of the average-ish | for whom the bell tolls

  17. Pingback: “My Mil never likes to cook. They have maid at home who does most of the cooking cleaning stuff.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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