|HER WORLD||Sunday, October 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India|
split...keep eyes wide open
my partner... I’m not happy"
For no split...keep eyes wide open
In metros, young men and women go freely on dates and even experience pre-marital sex. But does this new camaraderie make them better marriage partners? Counsellors who specialise in pre-marital problems do not think so, says Vimla Patil
WHEN you open a discussion on pre-marital counselling, you literally open a can of worms," says Rajan Bhonsle, a top marriage counsellor of India, "Many educators say that sex education is a must for all teens and adolescent people in India. But they misinterpret sex education to mean mere anatomical knowledge. I think every young person knows about anatomical sex. Such knowledge is available from the Internet, television and from peer groups in their colleges or workplaces. What pre-marital counselling should emphasise is how young people should approach sex; how being loving, caring and compassionate is vitally important if a marriage is to last. Sex education should teach young people that partners should first know each other well and develop respect for each other. In my practice, I find that many young men are under tremendous pressure to prove their virility because of the icons set up for them. All the talk about ‘hot bod and sexy hulk’ models and actors and their ability to attract the opposite sex creates a tremendous sense of inadequacy among them. Young women too experience trauma when they are faced with serious commitments in life. Even in modern times, in educated and upmarket urban families, open discussions about sex are rare. Children are left to satisfy their natural curiosity often from wrong sources. This is why pre-marital counselling has become important. I have formulated several detailed questionnaires for would-be brides and bridegrooms to answer before they make a lifetime commitment.
Dr Bhonsle and many leading pre-marriage counsellors regularly conduct novel workshops all over India under the aegis of non-governmental organisations, which specialise in marital laws and counselling services. Another leading counsellor who participates in these workshops is Pratima Havaldar, who has worked for long years in Mumbai’s Family Court. Considered a leading corporate trainer, Pratima teaches team building, conflict resolution strategies, corporate behaviour patterns, creation of support groups and self-improvement skills. "Today, people are living a faster life than ever before," she says, "They experience tremendous loneliness because there are few opportunities to express their feelings in total trust. Families are fractured or distanced from their roots. There are no bonds created by religion or tradition. Most young people, in this atmosphere, do not know what to expect from their partners when they want to get married. They do not even know the meaning of their marital rituals or vows. Often, they themselves do not know they want or expect from marriage.
"Yes, phenomenal changes have happened in the status of women. But when one looks at the gender roles within an Indian home, one sees that the old pattern remains intact, possibly in a new format. Even today, for most young couples, a man is the primary earner in the family. He deals with finance whereas home responsibilities rest on the shoulders of the woman. Though each may help the other in the management of family affairs, the basic roles and the pecking order remain the same. A man perceives himself as being in control of his family and his wife or partner, sees herself in a supportive role. The result is that the role of the wife remains secondary though she carries the burden of earning, home making, child-rearing and supporting her husband in his career. Strangely enough, men and women accept each other as equals in their workplaces but the equation at home is entirely different. An increasing number of young people have premarital sex today, but even that does not mean that they do not go through the trauma of adjusting to their marital partners.
"Marriage today has changed because women rebel against this automatic role allocation. They are less willing to accept injustice or second class treatment within a family. They also demand their ‘space’ to have their own friends, a slice of life which is not linked with their families and their own place in the sun in their careers. Many women insist on having financial independence. Many would-be mothers are scared of motherhood because of the demands it makes on them in terms of time and energy. The pressure of media — films and television — is tremendous. Most young women feel rejected and suffer from depression if they put on weight during pregnancy or during motherhood because workouts and gym visits are a must for every woman who seeks a ‘rocking life’. They are not prepared for the rough patches which life presents to all couples. Marriages between partners of different regions, religious and cultures cause more trauma because family support is often not available for such unions. Partners have to rely on each other for every need and this creates unrealistic expectations.
"Young people today need pre-marital counselling for many reasons. They should understand the responsibilities of marriage very clearly. They must know that selflessness, generosity and compassion are necessary for making things work. They must work hard to build united families where children can grow up to be secure individuals. They must understand the value of building strong extended family networks. All these afford them the peace of mind which is necessary for happiness and growth — in their careers or personal lives."
The workshops such experts
hold from time to time deal with many practical tests for judging
partners before marital vows are finally taken. These exercises,
according to the counsellors, help young people in doing valuable
introspection and coming to useful conclusions. Laws regarding marriage
also form a part of the interactive workshops, which are growing in
popularity among young people of all strata of society.
a male bastion
SHE had made history exactly 40 years ago as the first woman to fly into space. So it was fitting that the maximum applause was reserved for Valentina Tereshkova as she made her entry at the inauguration of the first-ever reunion of foreign alumni in Moscow recently. Only President Putin, who inaugurated the meet organised by the Russian ministry of Education, could compete with her for the longevity of the ovation. Undeterred by security constraints, a sea of admirers mobbed Tereshkova clamouring for her autograph.
By doing the unusual, Tereshkova also opened the path for a later generation of women astronauts like Kalpana Chawla and many others. Today, she heads the Russian Association for International Co-operation which comprises cities and associations promoting cultural relations in 56 countries. Among the 300 odd representatives from various countries who congregated at the reunion were five astronauts or as the Russians call them—cosmonauts. Hailing from Mongolia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, all of them had undergone training in Russia or the then Soviet Union sometime or the other.
"Mankind is no longer chained to its planet," were the first words that came to her mind, reminisced Valentina Tereshkova, when she finally orbited into space after months of hard work. Tall and ramrod-straight, smartly dressed in a green checked business suit, she looks fit enough to fly into space once more. Closely cropped hair frames her face, almost the same hairstyle that stares at us from those black and white photographs taken all those years ago when she became the inspiration and symbol for so many women the world over. The years have leveled down her cheeks, but have added a certain softness to her face. The eyes, however, are the same - sparkling and mischievous. As a young girl, it was terrible hard work for Tereshkova. After all, she was not born with a silver spoon. "I came from a labourer’s family. My mother brought me up single-handedly. Can you imagine how difficult that was?" she countered. Born in the small town of Maslennikovo in 1937, she soon lost her father, a tractor driver, killed in action during World War II. Her mother, Elena who worked in a textile plant, virtually brought up her children - two daughters and a son. This created a close bond with her mother which reflects in Tereshkova’s empathy to all mothers even now.
Finishing school at 16, Tereshkova began working to ease the pressure on her mother. However, she continued her education by correspondence course and became a graduate on cotton-spinning technology. Always interested in parachute jumping, she joined the local aviation club, making her first jump at the age of 22. "It was all kept a secret," she says with an impish grin, "my mother would have been too worried otherwise." But her secret was out when a couple of years later she set up the Textile Mill Workers Parachute Club and became its first head. Then came Yuri Gagarin’s flight to space and "`85 uppermost in my mind was – if a man could do it, why couldn’t a woman?" So she volunteered for the Soviet space programme and was one of five women selected as potential candidates in 1962.
The training was rigorous and included weightless flights, parachute jumps, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, physical training, rocket theory, spacecraft engineering, 120 parachute jumps and pilot training through jet fighters. All this hard work paid off when she was assigned to be the pilot of the Vostok 6. She became the first person to be recruited without experience as a test pilot. Her selection was based on her parachuting skills and her 126-jump record! Her radio name was "Chaika," - seagull in Russian. Thus on 16 June, 1963, the first woman shot into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. How did she feel looking at the earth from space? "It was breathtakingly beautiful, like something out of a fairy tale. There is no way to describe the joy of seeing the Earth. It is blue, and more beautiful than any other planet. Every continent, every ocean, had its own distinct beauty," she reminisced. Remaining in space for three days, Tereshkova orbited the earth 48 times, returning to terra firma by parachuting. The girl from suburban Maslennikovo was now a world celebrity.
But wasn’t all that a bit contrived – the Soviet Union was showcasing to the world the status of women whereas in reality, women did not enjoy much equality in society? No, she said emphatically. "The state did guarantee us the right to study, to work, equal pay for equal labour, and in any case there were other women cosmonauts too. I simply happened to be the first one."
Later, she enrolled in the Zhukovskiy Military Air Academy, graduating with distinction in 1969. Soon she became an Ambassador and spokeswoman for her country at international women’s meets. In the very year that she orbited into space she visited 17 countries including India. The reception in India, which she visited with Yuri Gagarin, was stunning, she recalled. Specially entrenched in her memory are the garlands that were put around their necks everywhere they went. So every time India is mentioned, the scent of flowers wafts into her memory. On that trip, which was certainly not the last to India—Tereshkova even visited Calcutta. Marriage to fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev, however, was short-lived. Her daughter Elena is a doctor, and Tereshkova enjoys the role of a doting grandmother to the hilt.
A former Communist,
Tereshkova regrets the demise of the Soviet Union and many of the values
that the country had upheld. However, she is optimistic that Russia will
once again regain its authority in world affairs. Says she, "We don’t
strive for hegemony, but to create a new world order where might will
not be right and weak states will not be bullied into kowtowing to
stronger ones. We shall succeed in creating a world where peace prevails
with justice and where there would be no wars so that there are no more
war widows like my mother." TWF
REAL education prepares the child to lead a meaningful life later on. It also equips him to manage and confront circumstances in the coming years. Healthy attitudes are fundamental for leading a successful life. Healthy upbringing of the children goes a long way in determining the attitude of children. From six to 16 years are the formative years for personality development of the child. Parents, who are neither psychologists nor very highly educated, but have a hands-on experience will vouch for the fact that children learn the real values more by observing good examples and behaviour of elders rather than by formal training. Children during this age quickly imbibe mannerisms of elders and therefore, it is possible to inculcate suitable habits in children at an early stage. Persuasion rather than harsh behaviour with children pays. A gentle touch and soft tone is what is required.
Civil ways can be instilled at this stage and it is the home that is the learning ground. Use of the words "sorry" and "thank you" is a good practice to follow; it is not a formality. When you see a child behaving well, reward him with praise, a smile, a hug or a pat on the shoulder. This process does wonders for a child’s behaviour and instils emotional security in the child.
Observe children’s company, guide them with affection, understanding and tact. Try to impress upon them logically. Never compare your child with another child or make comparisons between children. If you compare one child with another regarding his physical or moral or some other qualities, it may cause resentment later on. If there is any behavioural problem, tackle the child directly without making hurtful comparisons. Children never realise that they are corrected for their own good. Avoid destructive criticism otherwise it will hamper their confidence in later life.
Build a rapport with your child. Children who are neglected by their parents try to get the attention they crave for with negative behaviour. Or they run to outsiders for this emotional fulfillment. Outsiders can exploit them. So the simple solution is to give kids the positive attention and appreciation and reinforce positive behaviour. Parents should also participate in their activities. It can be great fun.
For practical education, take children to banks, railway station, fire station, newspaper press, etc. to see their functioning. This leaves a long-lasting impression on their minds. Later on, children will recall these trips with pleasure. The behaviour of the parents with the children should evoke trust. For this, parents will have to be honest with the child. Trust also means keeping your promise. When you say you will do some thing, it is important to fulfil it.
Encourage your child to communicate both positive and negative feelings with you. Never snub the child or be harsh with him, otherwise you will never know what is going on in his mind. Take his feelings seriously. Show understanding and love for their feelings and help them in taking small decisions. Give them credit and appreciation for correct decisions. This will increase their confidence in themselves. Give more attention to their achievements rather than focus only on failures. This will motivate them. When a child’s behaviour improves, the parents tend to enjoy the child more. The bond of love between the child and parents will become stronger. A wonderful cycle is set in motion.
If due to any reason, when a child is 16 there is anger, strictness and over-discipline on the part of the parents, it is counter-productive. It adversely affects the behaviour of the children.
Only patience, diplomacy
encouragement and emotional feedback can serve the purpose. Otherwise,
sometimes children react so badly that it becomes difficult to tolerate
one’s own child. Logic and rationality do not appeal to the children
at this stage. The need of the hour is to create a congenial atmosphere
in the family. Support them to face the problems they encounter during