Passing through Expat expert Robin Pascoe feels helicopter parenting has increased post 9/11
Robin Pascoe is an Expat Expert. Wife of a Canadian diplomat, she took to writing on the various issues that expatriate families’ experience. She has the reputation of a funny, engaging and inspirational speaker, but what makes her a convincing writer is that she speaks from personal experience. Excerpts from an interview with the writer of four books who was in Bangalore for a series of talks.
When did you decide to make this your career?
My husband was a diplomat and we were posted to Bangkok. I was part of a mother’s group and started a magazine for them. That was also when my daughter was born.It struck me that neither the government nor your employer was preparing you to live outside. The woman had to put up with a host of losses, including loss of career. I felt it was very important for women to know what they were getting into. It was pertinent to address not just the external challenges but the internal ones as well.
The corporations are so busy addressing the logistics of relocation that they hardly think of the emotional aspect. That’s where I stepped in. I started a website so that people can ask me questions they cannot ask anybody else. From the kind of mails I get, not much has changed.You have had your children in two different places. Are they different from each other?
My daughter is an environmentalist and my son is a tree hugger. My son had to move five times before he turned nine. Oh yes, they have turned out to be very different people. My daughter is a globalist and my son doesn’t want to move.What are your views on technology? What has it done to the global families?
Technology is a great boon, but it also works against you. People are connected on the Net and it lulls them into the belief that they belong. They don’t make relationships. I personally think it’s important to move around the place you’ve made your home and get acquainted with the people and culture.
Giving children mobiles and then constantly hovering around them is the other big menace. “Where are you?”, “Why?”… This kind of constant monitoring results in the transfer of fear. I call it the “cellular umbilical cord”, which doesn’t work too well for the children. World over, this syndrome of helicopter parenting has increased post 9/11. There is an over consumption in these classes. I feel there is a strong guilt factor at work and try to compensate by buying things for their children. Even household help is treated like a consumer durable. But I have always maintained that help is there only to enhance your lives.In the recent times, you have written extensively about international schools, and you even address children studying in those schools.
International schools are good because they give children an intercultural experience. Even if they choose to stay in their own bubbles, in a class room situation, they have to mix. But then it is up to the family to keep them grounded, to fill in the gaps. Every success has to be preceded by a failure. It’s good to let children have their failures. Children have to fall. They have to be repeatedly told “out there, they don’t have the privileges you do”.
In the post-globalised context, does one have to go through relocation to feel like an outsider? I like to redefine the word “expat”. I’d prefer to use the word “global”. Even in Canada, my country, they have always been talking about cross-cultural influences. We have to protect indigenous cultures. The threat began with television and is now perpetrated by the Net.DEEPA GANESH