What good mothers do – 11 Aug 2010

Ragini, a 43-year-old housewife and mother of two, was shocked to witness her 21-year-old son Shashank’s arrogant behavior. It was nine in the late evening and Shashank was just back after spending time with friends. He was one-and-a-half hours late in returning home. Naturally, Ragini asked him the reason for late-coming.The boy simply brushed her aside, went to his room, threw his cap on the bed, kicked his shoes away in different corners of the room, ignored his mother following him into the room, and switched on the TV at full volume. When he saw Mother still standing there, he shouted, “I am a grown up person now and you cannot question my behavior!” A stunned Ragini was speechless. She had been noticing the boy’s behavior growing more and more arrogant over the past few weeks. He talked rudely to most people, he insulted his businessman father’s employees, and did not mind slapping his younger sister at the drop of a hat. Clearly, the boy was on a wrong path – she thought.

Equally shocked was Usha, a 41-year-old mother of Bunty, Shashank’s friend of years since school days, living only a few houses away in the same colony. He also had returned home beyond nine in the evening, behaved similarly as did Shashank, insulted his mother, fought with his brother and shouted at his father who asked why he was late in returning home day after day. Usha too, felt that the boy was rather too arrogant.

But the response of the two mothers – Ragini and Usha – was different.

Ragini responded with concern, went into details of the way Shashank behaved, and decided to sort things out immediately.  Usha blamed things on the youth – – “The 20-year-olds, you know. They will learn when they grow up”, she felt. For Ragini, things were not that casual. If he does not grown up at 21, then Shashank, an engineering graduate taking an MBA course, will never learn, she apprehended. “I must do something,” she resolved.

Of course, things could not be easy. Ragini tried to talk softly to the boy. He would not listen to any thing. He refused to tell her what was happening in the MBA classes as well. “I know how to take care of myself. You don’t meddle in my affairs”, he would say every time Ragini tried to talk to him or counsel him. “But I am your mother,” she would say. “So what? You take care of the house, feed us, and leave us kids to themselves,” Shashank would insist.

A shocked Ragini talked with her husband. It took her a few days to make her husband agree with her that something had to be done immediately. “As a businessman, you tend to get careless. Perhaps, Shashank takes you as a role model, and naturally so. So, why don’t you start becoming a little softer with your employees? Why don’t you start spending a little more time with Shashank?,” Ragini asked.
The husband agreed. And together, the couple went to see Shashank’s Principal at MBA college, of course without the boy’s knowledge. The Principal, a wise middle-aged man, agreed that even at college, Shashank was behaving rudely to most. “He appears to be in a wrong company,” he confided.

The couple then requested the Principal to help them in helping their son who had so much of promise. He agreed. Sensing that the boy may refuse to yield to any direct counseling, the threesome planned a systematic course-correction. Soon, the MBA college invited a well known inspirational speaker and counsellor to give lectures on personality enhancement and behavior modification. Then, Ragini and her husband invited the guest speaker and the Principal at home for high tea. And soon, Shashank started responding to the effort positively, first slowly and later rather quickly.

At this stage, Ragini and her husband then started sending Shashank to various educational programmes where his behavior started improving positively. They also encouraged the boy to go to the counselor for sessions which focused on mellowing down the boy’s rather explosive response to words of wisdom and concern. Another step the family took was to separate the boy from his wayward friends by offering him opportunity to join a sports club where he spent time in good and engaging activity.

This effort took about a year, but patience and persistence paid off. Today, Shashank is proving to be a very good young person with a sense of focus. He is on his way.
In Bunty’s family, things have been the same. Usha and her husband kept believing that Bunty would improve with passage of time. That did not happen. Bunty continued to behave in a similar manner. He, too, went to same college as Shashank, but because he did not have the right motivation from the family, the inspirational speaker’s lectures made no positive impact on him. He tended to laugh things away. He even mocked at Shashank’s changing behavior.

One year later, the difference in the personalities of the two friends started becoming very obvious to the whole neighbourhood. This hurt Usha much but she still felt that in a few more years, when Bunty gets married, he will become a responsible person. Until then, she seems to have concluded that youth is an age of arrogance and elders need not worry much about it.

There is no need to make any further comment on these two real-life stories of boys I happen to know well.

Published in The Hitavada – Womens World 11 August 2010

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