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JillianV Jan 24th, 2011 06:24 PM

Help needed please.
How do you deal with people planting negative thoughts about India in kids heads?

That is the question, I have a upcoming trip to India with my kids planned, my kids are 7, 10 and 13 all girls. India has never been my first choice as a travel destination, but like all great accidents and researching various vacations around the world, India has climbed to the top of the list.

From reading and researching on the net I have become fascinated and obsessed with this country. And I think this country would be perfect to show my children, because of it's great diversity, culture and history and people.

Ok the problem now is that ever since I have told people about this trip, they have constantly been bringing up the negatives, especially to my girls, some of the things are bordering on racist or even down right racist.

For example telling the girls they will get kidnapped and sold into slavery, telling them that India is a disgusting country, everyone will be out to hurt/harm them and me and the only food will be disgusting, or that we will be killed by terrorist, because India is full of terrorist.

The problem now is that my daughters are scared to go to India, most of these comments have come from family, and even from friends who I have thought were educated.

What can I do? Everything I have read and heard and seen about India is amazing, I have been lurking on this site reading some great write up's about India, and a lot of you really do seem to love India.

Please help me, I know my kids will love India, but I am worried that all these negative comments etc are getting them scared, how do I get these negative thoughts out of their minds?

lcuy Jan 24th, 2011 09:51 PM

You all should be scared. India is a scary, dangerous country. I know because I've been there. It's funny though. All the people in India asked me how i handled living in such a scary, gun crazy country like America.

Seriously, tell your girls that these people are wrong, and that they will find it out when you get there. Do be up front about the dirt and poverty though. You will see lots of visibly poor and maimed people, but they are more to be pitied or ignored than feared. You might want to do some role playing in advance on dealing with touts and beggars.

One thing I would do is to make a donation to an Indian charity before you go. Tell the girls you want to make a difference in the society, not feel obligated to respond to each beggar's plea (which you definitely should not do. That can be scary when word gets out that you're giving away stuff, and a small mob can appear out of nowhere).

JillianV Jan 24th, 2011 10:48 PM

lcuy thanks, I have been showing the girls everything about India, including the poverty, dirt etc. My 13 year old is very mature for her age and when I was talking to her about the poverty she said well just like here then?

I know India's poverty is on a larger scale due to the sheer size of the population, the problem I have is that the girls now think that everyone in India is out to hurt them or that there are terrorist hiding around the corner to kidnap them etc.

It's very easy to scare kids and it seems a lot of these people have been trying their hardest to put the girls off and maybe hoping that the girls will force me to change our travel plans.

dgunbug Jan 25th, 2011 05:15 AM

Why not read the kids some of the trip reports that make India sound so appealing and magical to you? That's how I convinced my husband to go to India when he was dead set against it. Now when his relatives sound off on how sorry we will be to go to India, he ignores them as he has read these reports and knows better.

Marija Jan 25th, 2011 06:08 AM

Better hide dogster's trip reports...

althom1122 Jan 25th, 2011 06:34 AM

I'm one of the ones who love India! It hadn't been high on my list either before I went - now it's fairly high on my list for a return. I never once felt in danger. I never felt threatened. Your daughters will definitely not be kidnapped. I know, though, that the difficulty is convincing THEM of that fact. Reassure them as much as possible. Relay the personal experiences of some of us here on the board, as dgunbug suggests. I bet if you found some statistics, they'd show that there are far more dangerous incidents in Western cities.

So while I don't believe safety is an issue, I do think they'll be in for some eye-opening -- and not totally pleasant -- experiences, which I think you should try to prepare them for.
Regarding the poverty, please dispel the notion your 13-year-old has that it's "like here". It's not like here. Your comment that India's poverty is on a larger scale due to the sheer size of the population is under-stating the issue. It's very sobering even for adults, so if your children are sensitive, it will definitely affect them.

That said, there are wonderful life-lessons to be learned about differences and similarities across cultural boundaries. Smiles are universal, and the locals will be as curious about your family as you are about them. The people are warm and friendly, the smiles sweet and genuine. Your children will be MAJOR "targets" for people wanting their picture - which they will probably love. If any of them are blonde, oh dear. :-) But just about any Westerner, regardless of skin/hair color (including the Asian Canadian who was with us), gets multiple requests for photos. My "dance card" for picture taking was full nearly every day. Even adolescent boys wanted me to pose with them for pictures, and I'm past 50. :-)

I'd suggest showing them some of the photos that go with some of the trip reports here (including mine!). :-) I'm guessing they might like this one of two obviously very poor girls beaming at having their picture taken. They ran over and asked me to take the photo and then giggled and giggled when I showed them the result:

What's on your itinerary, by the way? Regardless, I do think your girls will love India - and good for you for exposing them to such a different - and wonderful - culture. Just prepare them a bit. It's very intense. Have they traveled elsewhere in Asia?

althom1122 Jan 25th, 2011 08:06 AM

One more thing: tell the "well-meaning" people to butt out (perhaps more politely than that). It's really not their place to put a damper on this trip for YOUR daughters. They need a little education about India, as well, but even more of an education about manners.

althom1122 Jan 25th, 2011 09:27 AM

The "they" in my last sentence referred to the well-meaning friends/family, not your daughters!

CaliNurse Jan 25th, 2011 01:09 PM

My daughter had no interest in going, but i told her, "trust me?" At least once a day, i heard,'Oh, i can't wait to show THIS to my friends!" about some photo she too, or "Wait til i tell them how wrong they were!" when we were in some fabulous moment (and tere wer MANY of those).
There are two fantastic trip on another site called Indiamike(which i strongly recommend you perusing in any case)--i will try to dig it up and send it to you. There might be ideas in that for how the Dad prepared his kids.
BTW, WHAT area are you going to? If you ahve a choice, it moight be better to start in Kerala.

JillianV Jan 25th, 2011 02:18 PM

Wow guys thanks for all the message and support, I have been reading getting my 13 year old to read a lot of your trip reports and I think slowly she is coming back around.

I have showed the kids documentary's on India, read them articles and showed them video clips on the net as well. I think the main problems is that after so many negative comments and people saying some completely ridiculous things, and remember these kids are still young and impressionable.

It is taking a lot of effort on my part to convince them, the sad thing is that when I was planning the trip all the kids were involved in it as well, and were really looking forward to it,with great excitement.

But as soon as we told other people of our plans then the negativity started, it makes it worse when the comments are coming from grandparents and close friends and family.

I have showed the 13 year old this site and all the great post and comments on India, I have told them yes India is different and prepared them as best as I can for the in your face poverty etc.

It seems I am fighting a bit of a loosing cause here, because every time I think I have won them over again, someone comes up with "you are white girls, they will kidnap you" or "Indians can't be trusted, they all want something from you or to hurt you".

I am just so angry and frustrated, I am thinking of just canceling the trip, I want my children to experience all of India, to show them a great country and wonderful people, but I don't think they are going to enjoy it now, last night my middle daughter said she didn't want to go.

JillianV Jan 25th, 2011 02:23 PM

althom1122 I showed my daughters your website and they loved the photos and were saying how beautiful India is, but then their grandparents got hold of them and it was down hill again.

Maybe I should just tell everyone the the trip is off, that way the comments will stop and we can sneak out of the country?

JillianV Jan 25th, 2011 02:30 PM

althom1122 we have a easy paced itinerary, going to Delhi for 2 days, Agra for 2 days, Mumbai as well, I have some close friends in Mumbai and we have a place to stay with their family's.

We have 2 months, yes I am pulling them out of school, I think India hands on is going to be a better learning experience, than sitting in a class room and not having things come alive. Going to Kolkata as well, Kerala too, but most of the traveling is going to be with my Indian friends and their family.

Spending a week in Mumbai, my 13 year old is fascinated by Bollywood and one of my friends is very close to a couple of Bollywood stars. But at the moment I am getting a bit down with all this negativity coming our way.

Everyone is saying we showed go to Europe, as India is "not safe" and like I mentioned the girls are still young and impressionable and tend to believe anything, like most children I suppose.

JillianV Jan 25th, 2011 02:33 PM

Cali I mentioned to my daughters that I had read you went with your daughter and had a great time.

lcuy Jan 25th, 2011 02:43 PM

With friends and family like this, I'd MOVE my kids to India.

No need to lie. Just call these people when you daughters are not in range, and tell them you don't appreciate all the negativity, especially from people who haven't been there.

Remind them that
a) it is not nice to scare children unnecessarily, 2) When the kids see that none of these horrid things happen, they will never trust the grandparents "advice' again, and
3)That some of their comments sound very bigoted, and you will not tolerate that with your girls.

And when you have done this, go tell your girls to trust that you would never take them if you thought they were at risk.

I went to India three times with one of my attractive daughters, another time with her equally attractive younger sister, and no one ever did anything inappropriate.

JillianV Jan 25th, 2011 03:00 PM

lcuy I have read your reports and you and your daughters seemed to have had a great time, I am printing out your reports for my 13 year old, if that's ok with you?

The problem with all these comments that it is very subtle, but if you mention it often enough, especially to kids they start believing it.

I am just fed up, all the excitement, the planning etc seems to have gone down the drain. I have read so many trip reports on here and all of you are so sincere in your love for India the good and bad.

I have tried to get some of the family to read these reports but they want nothing to do with it, they have made their mind up about India.

All this is getting me down as well, but I am still talking to the girls and showing them photos, especially some of the photos taken by you guys, but it's all getting so hard.

travelaw Jan 25th, 2011 03:53 PM

Jillian -- You are the girls' parent -- not these other people, so you get to make the decision. Ignore what everyone is saying and just forge ahead. The girls will not be disappointed. I took my daughter twice to india and it changed her life. She ended up moving back to Mumbai, by HERSELF, and I had no worries about her. Kids need to learn how to be street-wise, and no doubt your girls will see things in India that they have never seen before, but it will be an amazing cultural and life-changing experience for them. Don't miss this opportunity. You and they will regret it later if you do not go. Bad things can happen anywhere you go -- and even if you don't go anywhere, they can happen close to home. Just do it!!!!

JillianV Jan 25th, 2011 04:12 PM

Thanks travelaw, it's just so upsetting.

Marija Jan 25th, 2011 04:30 PM

travelaw--your daughter was a college senior when she went to India, wasn't she? Lcuy and CaliNurse, your daughters were in college too, right? I think India viewed through the eyes of 7, 10 and 13 year olds will be quite different.

Jaya Jan 25th, 2011 04:49 PM

Jillian, I wish your girls could meet my nieces in India (around similar ages) they would have so much in common.

The rubbish told to your daughters about India would be the same if you were planning to visit any other country that ignorant people didn't know anything about.

My family is Hindu as are most Indians, but I'm still amazed at the number of people I encounter who think Indian women have to walk 3 steps behind their husbands (they don't), that marriages are forced (they aren't), or that women must cover their head and face (they don't). India is not a Muslim country. Even Muslim women who live in India do not need to cover up unless their family insists. The Indian government does NOT impose dress requirements, although by nature Indians dress conservatively.

There is an ever increasing middle class that didn't used to exist. You will now find massive, beautiful western style malls and office complexes. The education standards are higher than here in the US and English is widely spoken.

Take your daughters to the mall. They will see other Indian teenagers wearing jeans and all the same styles that your daughters are familiar with shopping for all the same things your daughters like to shop for. Go to McDonald's and enjoy a spicy McDonald's Indian style sandwich with fries and soda. You daughters will figure out quickly what really goes on in India.

Have a great trip!

JillianV Jan 25th, 2011 05:42 PM

Jaya thanks for the post, I am going to show it to my oldest and read it to the other two. I am so over the comments and constant negativity, this too from people who I thought were educated and open minded.

By the way does anyone know if CaliNurse has posted a trip report? I would love to read her report as well, I have become obsessive about India, can;t get enough of it and a lot of you have to be blamed for that.

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