Pride and Arrogance: The Thin Line Called Humility


Here’s one aspect of raising children that I’m working on. Suggestions for improvement are most welcome.

The firstborn (almost nine) is no longer that small kiddo who took in everything that Mom and Dad told her. She has started developing a mind of her own. And since she’s been doing well in her academics and extra-curricular activities she seems to have started becoming slightly proud of herself. You know, that extra pinch of pride that if not treated well in time can become arrogance and spoil her for ever. Not her fault. She was excessively shy and hence we had to keep encouraging her with words of appreciation at her smallest victories. We won. She overcame her shyness. To a large extent.

And now here I am with an even bigger problem. She started feeling proud of herself as the teachers and the Principal started noticing her and appreciating her for her overall personality development. Good news it indeed is. But as a mother I can see that this pride has to be tackled properly and kept well within the limits.

She had been displaying the signs when she helps her younger sister with her lessons. She unknowingly started teasing her for things the little one isn’t able to respond to. If we were watching a documentary on National Geographic she would suddenly pose a question for the little one and would be glad to note that she doesn’t know the answer. It would have been great if she tried telling her the answer. But what she prefers is making fun of the little one. I am not at all okay with this attitude.

I started off with leaving her on her own to do her lessons for one term. As expected she stumbled in a few while she excelled at many others. So now I had a chance of telling her this.

– Not everyone is well-versed with everything.
– Not everyone is in the mood to enjoy your sense of humour all the time.
– Everyone comes with a baggage and you never know which of your words can tickle their painful ones.
– Not everyone has access to the same kind of resources.
– There is no one who knows everything under the sun.
– Everbody is talented. Only the area of interest differs.
– Be thankful for the opportunities you have.
– Spread your knowledge and experience. It helps you memorize your lessons.
– We should expect the same treatment that we offer others.
– We should never and never make fun of anyone.
– Be Kind and Humble. You’ll not regret it ever.

While I was thinking of ways to tackle this specific problem, it came to my mind how some of us are always eager to jump the bus to mock others and exhibit our expertise in sarcasm.

Popular models get mocked at for their wardrobe malfunctions. Celebrities get robbed for slip of tongues or goof ups or their plastic surgeries that went wrong. Alia Bhat was not spared. The Doordarshan anchor was not spared. Nobody cared about what or how the victims felt about the whole issue. Imagine if the Doordarshan anchor had committed suicide, wouldn’t all those who humiliated her have a sense of being responsible for her act? Would they be able to forgive themselves ever? If I were one of them I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself. I’m glad she survived it.

Here’s an article by a mother on The Huffington Post for her 11 year old son. And here’s one of the points that I could relate to so much. {Read 10 Things I Want My Son to Learn Before He Becomes a Teenager}

Sometimes the joke is just not worth it. You know I am a fan of wicked wit. Expertly executed sarcasm is one of my favorite things in the world. And you are quite adept at both. But it is not always appropriate. There are things more important than a perfect punchline. Like friendship. Trust. Kindness. Think before you make the joke. Is it worth it?


Let’s accept that none of us is flawless. It then becomes easier to understand and accept the other person’s situation.



35 Replies to “Pride and Arrogance: The Thin Line Called Humility”

    1. Thank you Ravish for taking the time to read. Parenting indeed poses a lot of situations we have no experience of dealing with. It is a learning experience and the same procedure doesn’t work in all circumstances and for all children. Learning on the go it is.

  1. I think you have raised two very valid points, Rekha. The first being the over-confidence displayed by your daughter and the second about the news anchor. I was actually talking about something related to this, when I met a friend last week. How quick we are to make fun of people without knowing what they do. How easily we shame people not realising that they may not even be doing this intentionally. I have been the butt of jokes all through my life- for being non-competitive, for being gullible, for being the kind who would cry easily. It was never easy to handle. I have great parents who stood by me and made sure that this never affected my self-esteem so badly that I wanted to do anything drastic.

    The good thing is your child can be taught the way forward and she will listen, since she loves you. What of the public though? How much sensitisation will it take for them to realise that shaming will only cause more distress and no change? Very thought-provoking piece, Rekha. Going to stay with me for sure.

    1. Shailaja, I relate to you in a lot of ways. I was never made fun of all through my school days because I was a teacher’s daughter. Of course I was mocked at and humiliated time and again by a rival who was the daughter of my mother’s jealous colleague. That is exactly what made me shut the doors of the career option of teaching. I didn’t have friends because everyone feared a teacher’s daughter. They considered me as a spy for no specific reason. It broke my confidence in myself. And then I entered college without much knowledge about the outside world. From ragging to being laughed at, it was a terrible period. The first time I took out a pant and shirt for the husband, the trio (brothers and sister) laughed at my choice. Trust me I stopped giving my opinion to the family since then. I know it wasn’t deliberate, but it did hurt more because of the situation I was in with no support from my side of family.

      I feel with the advent of social media, it seems people have crossed all barriers in shaming and naming people. From sarcastic comments, derisive posts to mocking someone through venomous and lethal status updates. All with the blind support of stupid serial likers and commenters. It is practically impossible for us to sensitive the world or country or our city. So I focus on sensitising the ones I can. The girls who will be a part of the society, the country, the world. If they become responsible human beings, the purpose of my life will be fulfilled.

  2. I think it’s just a passing phase for your elder one as you’re there to guide her. She is just a kid, (though I know that our 9 year-olds are not as innocent as we used to be at our times) I keep on saying the same things to my son too.

    But the second point is more disturbing. There are some people who always think themselves to be superior to others and love to taunt/make fun of others. There’s no way we can stop them. I really hate such people.

    1. Absolutely Maniparna! It is a passing phase. But giving proper guidance is the key to get through this unhurt.

      I dislike the word ‘hate’ but that is exactly the feeling I too have for the non-sensitive people.

  3. I have been studying over this problem, a lot I must admit. I see so many talented children, who have wasted it cos of their pride. But Indian community is other wise, there are twice the number of kids suffering from inferiority complex cos their parents find fault in everything that they do.

    I would personally say, what I remember of my maa is her warm love for me and not the taunts and spanks. She was good at beating me up but in the end she would definitely make it up with a lot of love.

    I think you should discourage your elder one from this, of course with words. Later on make it up. Definitely 9 is a learning age and you must correct her, so that she has an extra bright future ahead and people love her more 🙂 IMHO…

    1. Anoop, I completely understand where you’re coming from. Punishing does not help in most cases. I believe in explaining the logic behind a certain behaviour. That has helped me a lot. Unlike how I used to get beaten up without actually knowing the reason for it. Of course Mom too made up with a lavish showering of love. But the wounds didn’t heal because I knew I was punished but I didn’t know for what. And so I make it a point to explain to the girl in the best possible manner why a certain behaviour is displayed when it is. Of course, I am also not a perfect one and there are times when I lose my temper and even refuse to explain the reason. But this one was different. I didn’t want her to carelessly pass remarks at others without caring for what and how they feel. Punishment wasn’t the best solution to this. I hope she does learn her lesson sensibly.

      1. Right Rekha, you have a very good point there. I think a girl child has to be dealt very delicately, unlike boys. It will be a great idea to just openly tell the mistake to the kid, and make her understand (y)

  4. It’s tough being a parent, isn’t it? I can’t imagine if I will be able to handle things as sensibly as you did… And yes we should stop mocking people, not cross the line because we too can be on the receiving end one day…

    1. I wouldn’t say so, Naba. It is actually a live practical session. You got to learn by doing. Sometimes you do it all wrong. But most of the times you learn the right way while you were doing it all wrong. It’s just like creating codes or algorithms. There is no sure shot solution. In parenting, handling a certain situation, it probably comes to us by itself. I find it as the most wonderful courses I have ever taken up. And your last line, I hope everyone gets it.

  5. My comment seems to have disappeared …:)

    I guess what I wanted to say was that you have handled the situation very sensibly…I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do that in the future…Parenting is tough…And more so on this subtle but important issues…We should stop mocking people because we could be at the receiving end one day…

  6. I am raising two boys 11 & 6, I totally agree with you Rekha. There is a very thin line between arrogance and confidence. Our words of appreciation to boost their confidence does fuel their sense of superiority. As parents its a challenge to even know where we should draw the line. As no two kids are same, their treatment cannot be the same either. It is a learning curve for you my friend as much as it is for your 9 year old. Keep going😊

  7. You did the right thing with your daughter. About the video, I don’t know the background of it but I know people judge and love making fun others but there is an thin line there. As long as jokes are harmless, it’s fine.

    1. Saru, this anchor made some wrong statements during the film festival at Goa. I think she announced a minister as Governor of India or so. She was made fun of all through the social media. She even contemplated suicide as she lost her job and stood no chance of advancing in her career. I am glad she overcame the situation. People often cross the thin line between harmless and harmful jokes.

  8. Respect for the education you are giving to your child. Hats off, Rekha. It’s true when pride reaches a level it becomes arrogant. There was a time when I became arrogant on account of the upswing and as fate would had it, I was pulled down from my pedestal. I was brought on earth. A valuable lesson, indeed.

    1. Thanks Vishal! This probably is one of the lessons my parents taught me time and again. And I am thankful to them for that. I guess everyone goes through such phases in life. What matters is getting up again and correcting ourselves. Good luck to you!

  9. I like the way you handled the situation with your daughter. Not easy to handle that fine line between arrogance and being confident. Many adults still haven’t learned this lesson.

  10. Pride and confidence if not handled properly on time could spill to arrogance. there is a wafer them transparent curtain between confidence and arrogance and could be viewed differently by different people. What could be sheer confidence could be arrogance for another.

    Many a times celebrities could be labelled as arrogant. Do we decide and stamp them on the basis of their face on the media or by their (mis)quotes?.

    1. Well said Kalpanaji! It’s basically about perception. How someone perceives a certain situation or a certain remark or a certain behaviour is very different from how someone else will. But I feel it is necessary for each of us to think twice before we leap. It is also necessary to sensitise the future generation to help them avoid a certain situation we have faced or a certain mistake we have made.

  11. Uff! Parenting is so difficult, right? Personally, I think you did the right thing. And yes, it’s only human for success to get to our head. But with headstrong and understanding parents like you and Viks, your little munchkins are in good hands. As for the video, well, sometimes people tend to cross lines – what’s funny for one, may not be funny for others. And definitely not for the victim. Interesting post, Reks.

    1. Thanks Sid! Parenting is difficult but it also is an eye-opener. It puts us in situations which make us reminded of our own mistakes in certain circumstances. Isn’t it? I’m sure you do get to learn a lot tackling your little munchkin too. Great Teachers they are. 🙂

  12. A great way of teaching some valuable lessons to your daughter, tough love 🙂 The line between pride and arrogance is pretty thin and needs to be kept in mind, always. Enjoyed reading your post.

  13. This is a tough one Rekha but I think it is just a phase. Also your little one will eventually catch up and learn to respond appropriately. Sometimes we just need to lighten up with our parenting and let the kids work it out themselves. I have 4 older siblings / cousins and I was often the butt of their jokes. In the end I learned to stand up and give it back.

    1. That again is a very valid point Suzy. I should also let the little one learn to stand up for herself. That somehow did not come to me at all. I was more worried about the careless remarks from the firstborn. Thank you for highlighting! 🙂

  14. Rekha I am in the very same spot. Although I have twins my son is way better at academics than my daughter. With everyone praising him all the time I find him making fun of my daughter. It’s worse that they are the same age. He questions her and laughs at her when she cannot answer. I too am hoping it’s a phase while talking to him all the time about not making fun of her. It’s hard to tone down his pride without being rude or mean. Sometimes I ask him to help her out and that works beautifully. You might like to try it too. Parenting is one crazy business, isn’t it?

  15. Reks, it is wonderful that you put so much thought into your parenting techniques to ensure that your little ones are taught the right lessons in life at the right time without having to resort to time tried and tested techniques like bullying them into obedience and submission.

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