Moving Cities / Continents
Last week in a get together,
a friend got talking. He was very worried about his children’s future in India.
He was re-thinking about his move to India from US.
Main concerns were- quality
of education, effect of other children’s behaviour, change in accent, health
and physical environment (in city).
His tone was of worry and I
could empathies with him, having made a move to India more than a year ago.
Many families move a great
deal now. Some move continents and some move within India from state to state.
Moves within India can also be quite stressful due change of language, food and
Let’s look at this issue one
by one –
1. Quality of education – First of all let me make clear
that in spite of my multiple degrees and excellent academic record, I am not a
great fan of education (at least till secondary school level). What one really
learns from school till age of 15 is- the process of learning, social skills
and self-discipline. These three issues should be bedrock of education till age
city schools of present days are far better equipped than the school we went to
as children. Proponents of American, British or any western school will realize
that in such schools, emphasis is on creating good environment for learning. If
you can help your child to stay out of the rat-race mentality, they will face
the world readily no matter which school they go to.
choosing a school some things to remember are – no. Of children in each class (
at the most 35), staff turnover rate of the school, proximity to your home,
availability of playground, attitude of school towards rat-race and of course
Effects of other
children’s behaviour – Children learn a great deal from other children of their
age group. That has its advantages in language development, sports activities
and social skills. Most apartment complexes in modern Indian cities have dozens
of kids and that helps in finding playmates. Children moving in from western
countries often find it difficult to adjust with Indian kids who can be quite aggressive
on play ground and have very loose personal boundaries and ideas of ownership (
they think it’s okay to use other’s toys/ bicycle without permission and not
bother with excuse me/ please and thank you). As a parent we can always model
good behaviour for our kids and that has a longer lasting effect than that of
other kids’ behaviour
Change in accent
/ language – in an increasingly mobile world, being multilingual is a great
advantage. There is some evidence that people using different languages (with
different grammatical structure) have better problem solving abilities. What
better place to learn languages than our melting pot cities?
Physical environment – With high levels of pollution, overcrowding, limited
open spaces and traffic, Indian city is not an ideal place for a child to grow.
This is one point I cannot argue with and it is really your call. Fortunately
for the affording class, healthcare facilities are good in India. Where else in
the world you can find a doctor at the other end of a mobile phone at all
Real issue is- how
comfortable are YOU with the move? If parents are at peace with them and find
their work and life more satisfying after the move, it will reflect greatly on
their mood, interactions and overall family life. Happy parents bring up happy
Ultimately, it is not about
kids. It is about how you cope with change. In my experience with tens of such
families around me, kids have always coped a lot better than their parents!!