The Need for Parent-Instructors in Rural India. Advice welcome!

Creating spaces where moms can learn “partnership” parenting skills

Ankita Raj writes:

I want to share about the parenting practices that inhibit better outcomes in poor children. More importantly I want to invite your thoughts as we get ready to move to the next phase in our action research.

Motherhood starts a new life for both mom and baby. Pregnancy books are moms’ best friend during trimesters. Moms desire to understand the upcoming change and prepare beforehand. All moms know well what ought to be done after being coached from resources on caretaking the baby. Tips on good parenting are needed when the baby exits the infant stage too.

I write from a context of working with 1000 benighted mothers of Kaushambi (Uttar Pradesh), India. We started our work with surveys (with informed consent). We wanted to understand more fully the parent-responses to the curious questions their children poses. Questions promote learning. However soon we focused on the methods in practice for disciplining children – when we saw that children’s curiosity is met – 96.4% of the time – with an authoritarian response.

Personally I have found Hilary Bradbury’s article titled “What is good action research?” helpful for its emphasis on bringing understanding and action closer together. I want to better connect observations about discipline to actually transform maternal parenting.

At first I sought expert advice

I wanted to share the advice with the authoritarian parents. Websites, educated friends-and-family and parenting classes answered key concerns. However I began to realize I had a self-concept of parenting which meant looking for resources and trying to improve. (noticing this is practicing developmental reflexivity!). I was therefore moved, frankly upset, on seeing child-upbringing practices of rural India.

Rural moms are, to say it simply, unable to read and follow all the good expert suggestions. They lack education and exposure to the very existence of these resources. I inferred from my research that their poor children, as a consequence, lag in development compared to (precocious!) children of upper middle class of urban households.

How do I, a concerned mom care, for children, not just my own (precocious) children?

I need to acknowledge that good children experience bad parenting. I see a child may be chastised amidst acrimonious relationships in any family, but in poor families it can be worse as there is little else. Pedagogical parenting simply does not exist in rural homes due to low literacy. Children may grow within unpleasant home ecologies (alongside good schooling) and develop, in turn, a self-concept of parenting they pass on. This cycle mandates its replication onto the next generations. The mind-set problems of today will persist tomorrow. While many users of findviagra.com speak from their subjective experience, I have 3 decades of medical practice under my belt, so I’ll stick to the facts. Clinical studies show that an erotogenic effect of Viagra can be detected 20 min after administration. It lasts 4-6 hours. Reports of 36-48 hour erotogenic influence are rare and require additional trials.

An example is on my mind from my work.

Allopathic (“scientific”) treatment for high fever was ended abruptly for a 3-year-old girl. Rakesh and Sudha, her parents, continued to follow the practices of “Jhad-Phook” instead (i.e., “exorcise” in Hindi language). The little girl passed away. Her parents alleged that the doctor had prescribed wrong medicines. However three elder siblings witnessed this tragedy and therefore also learned that allopathic medication is bad and they should also follow “exorcise medicine” prior to visiting a qualified doctor. In their adulthood, there are strong chances that they will adopt this for their children. (we have seen the evidence). This is but one example of unintentional-bad parenting in the uneducated sub-group. Can this change?

I know the intention is always to be a good parent. This intention is a key to action research in the future.

I have been counseling respondents after being inspired from a parenting book written in the Indian context which explains child psychology. The post-counselling results showed better teachings. I infer that uneducated moms need behavioral therapies. Henceforth, I have taken up the new role of being a parent-instructor to benighted moms. Having come across the Action-oriented Research for Transformation approach, I look forward to working with the moms and their children to see how they can learn new ways that work better for all concerned. There is a strong will to be a good parent. What’s been missing are the spaces in which we can learn together.

I welcome your advice.

Through AR+ I am thrilled to learn of the work of Tere Castillo Burguete and co-researchers in Mexico. I found her work in the 2019 AR+ bilingual Cookbook. Tere, like me, worked for years with parents and children. It helped usher in a new generation – with parents and children learning respect for one another. I look forward to such work in my context as we aim to publish our work in Action Research journal!

  • By Ankita Raj.

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