The Uncanny Valley of Parental Conservatism

December 2, 2012

Parental conservatism (or paranoia) is not an on-off state between liberal and conservative, but a continuum from chilled out to liberal to conservative to batshit fucking insane. Parents can be less or more liberal or conservative in various ways.

Take, for example, curfews and how long the child in question is allowed to stay out.   Some parents will just not give a damn. Some will hand the keys over and make annoyed phone calls starting at eleven. Some will impose a midnight curfew. Some will impose a ten pm curfew. At the truly paranoid end of the scale, you will have parents who will not even let things come to the ‘आज से तुम्हारा college जाना बंद!‘ situation, and pre-emptively force the kid to enroll in a correspondence course while sitting at the family shop instead of being out and about. In such a situation, you can just sigh, shake your head, and reflect gloomily that the best case scenario for the kid in this case is to elope with Rajesh Khanna. Tragic, no? Especially considering that Kakaji is now dead and it will therefore be a zombie romance.

However, the fact of how willing you are to let your kids go out and do1 what they want to do lies on a continuous curve leads to a startling conclusion: there exists an uncanny valley of parental conservatism. To wit: there are parents who are so conservative that they don’t even know the interesting things that there are to do, like teenage sex (after all that happens only after marriage), experimenting with recreational drugs (what is ecstasy?), and racing borrowed motorcycles (Bunty doesn’t even know how to drive!). Such parents will happily agree to their children going off to college or internships in different cities, because after all they are so serious and hard working and will only concentrate on their studies. Likewise if they are headed out for a birthday party, what more could be happening at a party than birthday cake and Pepsi?

1: Yo, let’s not delude ourselves into believing the bullshit that an 8 pm curfew is about ensuring your kids don’t get mugged or raped or conned out of all the money they’re carrying. If you’re paranoid enough to set an 8 pm curfew and your motivation is the safety of your kids, then the appropriate way to channel that paranoia is to dress up as a giant bat and strike fear into the hearts of criminals (a cowardly and superstitious lot). If you’re locking up your kids instead of beating up thugs, your motivation is actually to ensure that your kids aren’t doing something that they might actually enjoy.