The curse of sheltering

Amal Chatterjee
10 min readJun 17, 2018

Synopsis : In any system patriarchal or not where the male child is favored over the female leads to sheltering the child that inhibits the growth of his personality and his resolve to overcome his obstacles in life. This is the sin that should be avoided.

Source : Google photo ( )

I often end up discussing why some people succeed in life while others don’t, growing up under the same circumstances and come to the conclusion that while we may be genetically similar to our siblings, we are different from each other temperamentally or otherwise making us go in different directions in our individual life.

My friend who comes from a somewhat similar background like mine hit the nail on the head when he said that the failures come from the curse of sheltering in the patriarchal system where the sons are favored over daughters and are given wide latitude meaning a lot of slack in doing whatever they want and are sheltered by the parents and the elders. I have written about the patriarchal system in India in one of my blogs that may be worth reading to understand why they do what they do even if it does not make sense.

If you see the old Bengali style of buildings, you will notice that they all have a common feature that is a narrow veranda (called rock) in front of their houses with two cement benches at both ends. You will also notice the vagabonds and loafers who occupy these benches all day long where they smoke and gossip while whistling at young women passing by and making running commentaries on their dress or other things.

The girls know these vagabonds well and are used to their insulting remarks and cat calling so they cover up their breasts some more and trot off at a greater speed just to avoid them. For the vagabonds who have nothing better to do the whole day thus spend their time and constantly demand for tea and things to eat that the obedient women folks in the house keep on sending because these loafers are sheltered. As boys they can do nothing wrong that may include cat calling or eve teasing as it is called in India because perhaps the girls are wearing short miniskirts or low cut blouses that show a bit of cleavage inviting such teasing. Now good girls do not go around looking like sluts, do they?

I have written in my blogs that eve teasing is a form of social disapproval of western dresses, tight fitting clothes that are too revealing among other things so these so called self-appointed guardians of the society pass their time criticizing others while doing absolutely nothing with their own lives. They do not have to because they are sheltered.

I know a case when the son went to the next town and did not return as planned because he got delayed due to some reason, you could not have imagined the agony it caused among the women folks who wondered if they should go to the police and report a missing person or perhaps check with the hospitals if the son had an accident of some sort. You could see their joy when he returned a day or two later saying that he could not finish his errands there so got a bit delayed. The son was over 40 years old but he could be even older. It did not matter.

This is perhaps an extreme example of sheltering that they practice in their patriarchal system I now call a curse because it does not allow the sons to develop their own personality and the will to break out and do something useful in their life. Rare is a person who stands up to his parents and declares what he wants to do with his life because being the baby of the family has its advantages. Who does not like pampering?

It is like a drug that makes a person dependent on others. He does not have to learn to cook or even make a pot of tea that he is so fond of or wash his own clothes because everything is done for him by his mother or sisters or grandmother who are the worst offenders. They say that they do it out of love but do not realize its pernicious effect on the personality of the person so pampered that makes him spineless and totally dependent on others whom he takes for granted and expects them to serve him.

Why then the girls fare so badly and why boys pick on them constantly? Why the rules are so strict for girls and not for boys for the same offence? It is because of the patriarchal system that is purely tribal in nature and perpetuates the myth that boys are better than girls because girls are considered a liability by the parents. They have to get married off and leave the family while the boys are expected to stay at home and look after the olds in their hour of need.

Now this attitude is slowly changing because girls are getting education and good jobs and look after the parents, build them a house, buy them a car and other comforts of life so they are shattering the myth that they are inferior to boys.

They are also fighting back when accosted by the vagabonds who continue to tease them relentlessly and often beat up the cowards to teach them a lesson or two while the on lookers just gawk. They are the courageous one who take the matter into their own hands because the society does nothing to protect them.

I have written about the two girls who beat up a taxi driver badly in the Philippines who wanted to rape them but they knew karate and put it to good use. Not all women learn martial art so they silently suffer the harassment and cover up their breasts some more and trot instead of walking.

Now let us see how damaging this sheltering and pampering of boys can be and how it prevents them to literally grow up and develop the desire to accept challenges and overcome them to succeed in life. The pampering is really like a drug that makes you lazy and without any initiative because everything is done for you. You live in a comfort zone that you are terribly afraid to break out of.

Recently we had a visitor from India who spent a month with us and promptly demanded a cup of tea after arriving from the airport. We do not drink tea and do not know how to make a good cup but I still tried but he said that the tea was not well made so he will now teach me how to make a good cup of tea. He came from his sheltered life where others made tea for him whenever he wanted or they knew his routine and made a pot of tea anyway just in case.

He had travelled to a foreign country for the first time and out of his comfort zone where he did not have to do anything because there were others to serve him. He therefore had a culture shock and was eager to go back to his sheltered life where he felt more comfortable.

To venture out of your comfort zone and do something extraordinary involves risks that can be frightening at first but those who do it learn that nothing is gained unless you try hard and are willing to take disappointments and the prospect of failure. I knew that I was perhaps taking a risk by going to Vietnam during the war when I was only 22 but I had a great deal of faith in myself and I trusted those who in Vietnam protected me. I took many risks that I will not write about here but you may read about them in my biography elsewhere.

This willingness to accept challenges no matter what they are in life is what sets those apart from the vagabonds who have nothing better to do with their lives than just sitting in the veranda and criticizing the women passing by. My playmates in our lane did not finish high school so live in poverty and look far older than their age but they were the victim of sheltering. They do not want to talk to me or even see me because they feel inferior and are perhaps ashamed. This inferiority complex is like tuberculosis that eats away at your lungs until you can’t breathe anymore. It destroys your personality that never develops to the point when you could take some drastic decisions in your life.

Life is never meant to be easy for those who dare. It throws many obstacles to test your mettle and then rewards you profusely for your tenacity to succeed. Many top CEOs were refused jobs by hundreds of employers. Many famous authors were refused by the publishers who did not believe in them until one brave person saw the talent and accepted it. Many people did not believe that a person with disability could climb Mt. Everest until he did and many did not believe that a young girl of 15 could sail around the world alone until she did.

So it is easy to ignore a person who has such potential because accepting him or her is a challenge they cannot take due to the risk involved.

Once Bill Gates still struggling with his company and the payroll offered few shares to his janitor instead of pay saying that someday those shares will be worth a fortune. The janitor believed in him and he is now a millionaire. But how many of us have such faith?

This is I believe a key word here called faith. If your parents have faith in you and encourage you to take tough exams that you fail the first time but still encourage you, it goes a long way to help you develop your own personality and self-confidence. They do not pamper their sons but expect them to learn to face challenges and accept them and overcome them.

There is no shame in taking a part time job of washing dishes or cleaning the classrooms to earn some money to pay for your education when you do not have a scholarship and no one to support you in a foreign country but many do it and get their education like I did.

There is no shame in being self-reliant but it takes courage and a very strong determination to overcome such obstacles by taking whatever job comes your way. A pampered kid is scared to death when he faces such challenges and promptly backs out to go back to his comfort zone.

Many students were given the chance to work in Vietnam during the war but they all backed out because they were sheltered and their parents would not let them go.

Now I want to write about courageous girls who also took matters into their own hands and succeeded in life. One girl in our neighborhood got married to a fellow through the arranged marriage system and became a widow a year later when her husband died of a spine injury leaving her pregnant. It was a very unfortunate thing to happen to anyone let alone a very young girl like her but she did not wallow in self-pity and took a job in a faraway place to raise her son by herself. I call that girl courageous and with a strong will.

Another girl who had a very high IQ got married also through the arranged way and one day ran away from her very abusive husband and asked for divorce that was granted. She now lives in England with her second husband who is a very nice person so together they have made a new life themselves.

I know many such cases where they show courage and the will to succeed no matter what the obstacle. I think women have more courage and develop the strong personality because they are less sheltered. To grow up as a girl in a patriarchal society is tough by itself so perhaps it is a blessing that it makes women tougher than men.

The famous case of bandit queen that I wrote about in a blog is quite astonishing where an illiterate girl of 18 who was gang raped by no less than 20 men in her village took revenge later on them by shooting them all dead. The whole country applauded her except the policemen for her courage and determination to get justice this way when no one would help her.

Now I am not suggesting that every wronged person should take such drastic measure but I wrote that millions of women who suffer daily such ignominy applauded such courage and wished they too had it.

In conclusion I just want to say that if you are sheltering your children then you are doing more harm than good to them even if you do it out of your love for them. You should think of what they will become when you are no longer around to shelter them.

It reminds me of the famous song by Johnny Cash called The boy named Sue where a boy was named Sue by his father that he hated and grew up tough and mean fighting everyone who mocked him. One day he caught up with his father in a beer joint and had a big fight with him when he asked why he named him Sue? His father said that it was to make him tough and strong to prepare for his life when he was no longer around. He finally understood his father and forgave him and hugged him.

But you don’t have to name your boy Sue. Just don’t shelter him and pamper him .Treat your daughter fairly and be impartial. To prefer boys over girls is a sin millions commit everyday so wake up and walk away from such tribal practice that produces spineless citizens who watch a girl being molested and do nothing.

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