October 2011: A quick-smart way to explain their negatives to our kids.
I met my friend Sandy*, mother of eight-year-old twins Antara* and Anhad*, for a walk on Carter Road a few days ago. When I asked this staunch do-gooder why she seemed so preoccupied, she revealed that the twins had been insisting on buying Diwali crackers. “When they were little, we’d get by with a few phooljhadis each. But now, when I think they’re old enough to stop, they’re really keen on bursting more! I just don’t know how to say no. I don’t want to deny them joy and make them seem uncool because of my beliefs, you know?”
Over our hour-long walk, we came up with an argument that (we hoped) would work with the little twins—and it has! So, how did she—and how can you—tell your kids, simply, why the fun of crackers is just not worth it?
How It Went Down
While she could simply say ‘no’, Sandy is a democratic parent. She sat the kids down and started off explaining how everything they chose in life has to be weighed for positives and negatives. Once the kids understood this point, it was a cakewalk…
“In one simple line I asked them: ‘Does it make sense that for 30 seconds of beauty, you’re A) causing noise and air pollution that affects dogs, cats, asthmatics and the environment; B) supporting child labour; C) supporting unsafe and unfair work environments for the children and adults working in these factories; D) wasting money; and E) playing with unsafe things.’”
After curious questions (“How child labour?”, “Why unsafe?”, “What happens to dogs and cats during Diwali?”), Antara and Anhad went to sleep preoccupied.
The next morning, the twins declared they no longer wanted to burst crackers for Diwali. “Convincing them was easier than I thought,” says Sandy. “We really underestimate their intelligence sometimes, don’t we?”
How have you stopped your kids from bursting crackers this Diwali? We’d love to know your story…
This article appeared on Yowoto—a now-defunct parenting website startup that I helped incubate as Editor-in-chief—in October 2011. Read another article I wrote about firecrackers here.
While I’m now a firm childless antinatalist, my politics weren’t fully formed when I took this short-lived assignment to explore the digital side of publishing (though it was never a good fit). Nonetheless, some of the articles I wrote at the time are interesting.