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Millennium Post

Right to be a parent has to be earned

What should one do with parents who leave three children in a locked car and one of them dies? Just reading about the Alwar incident gave me goosebumps. As a parent, whenever I hear or read something where little children are put to danger or suffer any mishap, I want to reach for my own child and make sure she is fine. I suppose for the Alwar parents, just knowing that they have killed their own child is punishment enough. The bigger challenge is to see that such incidents are not repeated.

What bothered me as much as the stupidity of the parents who left unattended children in a locked car was the reason they reportedly gave for doing so. They did not want to be bothered with three children running in different directions in the market. They thought that the children would be safer in the car. Did they not know what happens in a car which is locked and parked in the sun? In the US, people call 911 if anyone even thinks of locking a pet in a parked car. And here, parents did not even think twice before locking their children in a parked car. Couldn’t they have left the kids at home? Or if there was no one to leave the kids with, why not go shopping in turns? Let one parent babysit while the other shops. But this is hindsight. All wisdom comes when the moment has passed. For the Alwar parents, their punishment is the knowledge that they were responsible for the death of their child.

What most of us do not realize is that parenting is not something you learn the minute you become a parent. Schools in the US have special classes where teens are taught parental responsibility by having to care for an egg as if it were a baby. But here, forget about teaching parenting in schools, we do not truly understand the correct age of maturity. Our laws are so lopsided. You are deemed mature enough to get married, become parents, and even elect governments by 21, but you are not considered to be fit enough to know how to drink alcohol responsibly before 25. In effect, parenting is considered easier than the ability to hold your drinks.

I have been a parent for a little over two-and-a-half years now and am still quite freaked out thinking about even basics like inoculation schedules and nursery school admissions. Having the responsibility of another human being is quite daunting. Though I thank God every day for my child, I also thank Him every night that another day has passed without event.

Soni Sangwan has reported on Delhi-warts and all- for several years. She is now a Journalist-in-Retirement, dividing her time between watching her two-year-old daughter grow and seeing the city she loves evolve
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