If a poll is conducted for selecting the most Indulgent Parents in the current cycle of the four yugas, I have no doubt that Dritharashtra and Gandhari would just walk away with the coveted Trophy. But if you consider the following points, you would agree that their indulgence was more to be pitied than censured. They were not born indulgent as many might think but their indulgent nature was forced on them. I would rather rate them as helpless but not indulgent. Let us be fair to them. If you had a hundred children of the same age group, would you be as effective in enforcing discipline among them as the Mother Superior of the most austere nunneries in the world? Let alone hundred, even if you had four of them spaced at one year apart, you would throw up your hands and look heavenwards! To add to the problem, D was blind and, I would say fortunately, that saved him from the trauma of having to witness his sons’ atrocities. His better half, partly to deny herself the faculty of vision which her husband did not have and partly to save herself from having to be a mute witness to her sons’ misdeeds, kept herself blindfolded throughout her life. Parental indulgence is a strange thing. What causes it is as mysterious as the factors that may cause a malignant tumour in a person. Millions smoke heavily but only a few get afflicted with lung cancer. It is a fallacy that all parents of a single child are likely to be indulgent. I know quite a few parents who have only one child but are very strict with their children. I also know parents with multiple children who are very indulgent with some or all of their children. My own paternal grandparents had eleven children and numerous grandchildren. My grandma was reported to have been selectively indulgent. Some enjoyed her immeasurable benevolence while the rest were not even allowed to stand in front of her. Having said all this, I must concede that a single child is certainly a risk factor in causing over indulgence. I do not know how to translate ‘chellam kuduthu kutti suvar aakkaradhu’ but it is a classic description of the mindset of the parents of a single child. But the more dangerous kind of indulgence is seen among very affluent parents who treat their children as some kind of a show piece to flaunt their own affluence. Recently a boy of sixteen was in the news in Chennai for causing fatal injury to a pedestrian by driving a Mercedes Benz all by himself. Teenagers driving expensive cars at break neck speed with music blaring from the ‘state of the art’ music systems are a common sight in Chennai. I have heard parents boasting in clubs about how they had to yield when their sons pestered them for a Benz or cars of such genre. Children using lethal weapons like a pistol against their classmates are now in the news in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region><st1lace>India</st1lace></st1:country-region> too. In days of yore, even the Princes were sent for a stint in a Gurukulam where they were expected to perform even menial duties like washing the loin cloths of their teacher. Compare them with the modern parents who are overly indulgent. If they are questioned about it, their answer would be that they grew in very difficult circumstances and they do not want their children to have a similar experience! I know parents who allow their children to buy online stuff like Wimbledon Towels at $100 a piece and crazy things like that! Wanting the best and believing in the best are two different things. The first will only create wasters but the second would create trial blazing entrepreneurs. Indulgent parents will only succeed in creating the first but creating a belief in and thirst for the best is possible only for the discerning parents. Blaming the genes for a child getting into bad ways is like blaming the fate for our incompetence. The malefic effect of the genes can certainly be overcome by good upbringing. A father boasting that his best child is the one sitting on the thatched roof with a lighted candle may be a good material for a joke but would you like to be the butt of such a joke?