#standbytoughmom: Why I disagree with parts of this Ad

The Stand by Tough Mom Ad

A popular mosquito repellent brand (All-Out) has recently released an interesting advertisement (watch the video below) made by the critically acclaimed director Shoojit Sircar. The stand by tough mom ad raises interesting questions about Indian parenting that are worth discussing. Well, there are few things in the ad that we loved but there were also a few things, that as parents, we did not agree with. But first please see the video, in case you have not already.

Watch the entire standbytoughmom video by All-Out below:
Video Credit:
Opening comments, My Lord

In this blog, we will not discuss the overtly traditional and patriarchal setup that forms the backdrop of the ad. Clearly, the family is a large joint family in which the ‘bahu’ (daughter-in-law) eats her meal only after serving everyone else! I am not sure if this stereotypical image of a large joint Indian family is very relevant today, but we will let that pass. Most probably the ad maker intentionally did that to get the audience to sympathise with the ‘bahu’, who against all odds stands up for what she believes in, which is, “being a tough mom” and “teaching the right values to the child”.

Most parents encounter situations of this nature. Perhaps your child has taken another child’s pencil-box or a toy. Or maybe you have caught your child lying or resorting to violence. There is no doubt that whenever your child does things of this nature, it is important to act immediately and nip the behaviour in the bud. Ignoring such behaviour will probably encourage more such acts by the child. Thus far, we completely agree with the mom in the ad, who believes in teaching her child the importance of values and does not believe in ignoring wrong acts committed by her child.

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3 Areas where we disagree with the Ad

Where we slightly disagree with the advertisement, is with regards to the approach that a parent should take in dealing with such incidents. Specifically, these are the 3 areas where we would have acted differently.

  1. Communication with your child.

    After any such incident, the most important thing is effective communication. As parents, we need to understand what prompted the child to behave in that way? Did the child even realise that the behaviour was wrong? Next, we should focus on clearly explaining to the child why the behaviour was wrong and unacceptable. The tone that you maintain during this communication process is crucial. You need to be firm but not over-the-top emotional. If your reaction to the child’s behaviour is highly emotional or angry, it is will distract the child’s attention from the main message. But firmness is also important and conveys your intent and seriousness to the child clearly.

  2. No public shaming, please!

    If the purpose is to teach your child good behaviour, then public shaming is not the right way to go about it. Public shaming is also a distraction from the main message. By doing it you further aggravate the situation because your child’s fragile ego gets hurt. You need to give a ‘graceful exit’ for your child to recover from the situation. Even if the bad behaviour happens in a public place with lots of people, it is better to take your child away from the vicinity to have a quiet word, in private. Doing that will help your child come to terms with what just happened and things can return to normalcy.

  3. Nature of Punishment.

    Your child should know that his/her bad behaviour will have consequences. Therefore, punishment is important. But what is the right punishment? In the ad, the grandfather suggested that if he were the mom, he would not give food to the child for two days! Punishments should always be the last resort and even when we resort to them, they should be carefully thought through. We do not support and recommend physical punishments such as hitting or denying food to your child.

But the standbytoughmom Ad gets a lot of things right too!
  1. Do not let your child blackmail you.

    Very often children do this. They can throw tantrums to express their displeasure. In the ad, the child is clearly trying to blackmail the mom because she had earlier expressed her displeasure at his behaviour, by not eating his food. It is important that you as a parent do not negotiate with your child when it comes core values that you believe in. The child needs to understand that a few things are non-negotiable and that you will be firm in your approach on those things.

  2. Spousal support is important.

    In situations of this kind, if your spouse or partner or other members of the family, do NOT support you, the child gets a very conflicting message. On the other hand, when all the elders of the family are unified on the issue, the child gets the message loud and clear. In the ad, the grandfather, who seems to have the final word in the joint family, came in support of the mom, thereby sending the message clearly to the child. In these situations, discuss with your spouse and other elders in the house and come to a consensus on a joint course of action.

  3. In the end, don’t forget to show love!

    We love the fact that the ad ended on a positive end. There are lessons here. Do not make your child feel insecure. Do not make your child feel that your love is conditional upon his/her good behaviour. Show your child that despite the unacceptable behaviour, you will always love him! This will go a long way in positively reinforcing good habits and behaviour. Love has great power to change people. Finding this right balance of firmness and tenderness is what we parents should all be striving for.

Finally, we take the opportunity to congratulate ad maker and the mosquito repellent brand on making an interesting ad. We #standbytoughmom!

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We would love to Hear from You!

What are your views about this advertisement regarding Indian parenting? Do you believe in the approach of the mother to discipline her child? Do you standbytoughmom?

Help other parents by sharing your thoughts in the commenting section below.

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