Like every residents of West Bengal,  I am now totally confused. Frankly speaking I am now no more than a bundle
nerves. The political killings, Sharda incidence, and now the incidence of Jadavpur University all but to me, these series of incidents has
shaken me so vigorously that I am unable to think rationally. My
fingers on keyboard are not working properly.

From the days I came to terms with myself as a pediatrician, I started
thinking seriously that role of a pediatrician is more than just
treating illness of the children. I started giving more importance to
the proper upbringing of the children. I started saying to the
parents, “See, the illness - your child is suffering from will be
cured today or tomorrow, but it is more important to teach the child
about the social behavior, discipline, education, fellow-feeling,
caring for others, caring for the nature…”. But strangely my words
echoed back to my own ears without any effect on the parents. And so it continued, year after year. Today also I am still struggling to
make parents understand just feeding and helping the children grow up by age, height and weight is not real parenting. PARENTING means many more things.

What triggered this writing:

Though my mind continued to be cloudy for many years seeing the ways the children are being brought up, this write-up is triggered by some
recent incidents. I am not referring to the cruel and brutal act of
gang-rape in Delhi bus, but the recent series of incidents such as the
barracking of teachers by their own students. In one of the school,
the girl students kept their teachers under house-arrest for more than
22 hours! And what was their demand? That they are given pass marks even though they secured very very poor marks. There were similar incidents in other schools also.  Here I am tempted to compare the incident of rape with the school-barracking. For me, the barracking is of more concern than the case of rape. The rapist is an antisocial or
has a criminal mind, whereas nobody can designate an adolescent school
student as a criminal for school-barracking. So the student can get
away with her act and repeat the same type or even more dangerous acts in future.

The incidents of misbehavior of students indicate that the students
did not get it from outside. They get the nourishment of their
behavior from their home – from the parents. And here comes the
importance of parenting.

The parents expect that their children will make them proud and that
this will occur automatically and naturally. They always think that
their children are too small to learn discipline and they wait for
tomorrow. But they forget that:

His Name is Today

We are guilty of many errors and faults,
But our worst crime is abandoning the children,
Neglecting the fountain of life.
Many of the things we need, can wait,
A child can not.
Right now is the time his bones are being formed,
His blood is being made,
And his senses are being developed.
To him, we can not answer 'Tomorrow',
His Name is Today.

By Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957), a Chilean poet and educator, who was
the first Latin American (and, so far, the only Latin American woman)
to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1945.
(To be continued)

With Special courtesy: Professor Amitava Sen


 [Figure1.  This figure, though looks clumsy, is a really very simple depiction of the different periods of life. From the mother’s womb to last day of life lesser period is being controlled and possessed by the parents. Compare the red areas. Note that the time-spaces shown in this figure are arbitrary.]

By the statement, “Are you sure your child is really yours”, I do not intend to hurt your morality, but want you to think seriously how long and how much a child belongs to their parents in respect to outside world. The period of life of a person covered and controlled by the parents are much less compared to the period exposed to the society. When a young man in any institute does an unwanted act, the people blame that man and not his parents. When a person does an excellent job, people reward him and not their parent. The dacoit Ratnakar had to face the consequences of his sinful acts, and neither his parents, nor his wife were ready to share those. So, the child/man has to carry his own life and face whatever the he does. But basically, most part of his character is inherited from their parents.

I firmly believe that a tiny kid in a house does belong entirely to the parents. They just a caretaker for the baby and it is obligatory duty of the parents to bring him up in such a way that today’s baby is handed over to the society as useful member of the society. This can only happen through proper parenting. Unfortunately nobody thinks in that way. The parents often become so much possessive that they ignore the role of the child’s contributions, good or bad, to the society in future.

Is parenting the only factor in man-making: do other factors not have influences:

Nobody can deny that other factors affect the process of man-making. But I am convinced that there is a distinct difference of the effects of other influences over good parented and bad parented individuals. A person who is brought through good parenting never has strong and permanent effects of ill-influences of the society. Even he is temporarily misled by the bad effects, he quickly gets self-realization, and not only returns to the right path but also spread rays of moral values to his associates. Getting tempted for the prohibited acts is a natural instinct of human. But a true human do not loose himself dark paths very long. On the other hand, the parson who has been parented poorly always tends to go to the evil paths quickly.  And most of the times this happen permanently and irreversibly. The person not only puts himself in field of antisocial, but also tries to influence others. Their influences affect the poorly parented persons and thus gradually the numbers of antisocial increase.

The parenting is so important that it forms the base of the individual. A man with a strong base never gets moulded by external bad influences. Rather through their communications, dealings and actions try to benefit the society which one can never expect from weak-based person. Good parenting is thus the corner stone of an individual’s life.

A General Overview of Parenting
Before going to the discussion of methods of parenting, I like to mention something less discussed like parental investment.
What is parental investment:

Humans are basically animals with all their natural characteristics. Like all animals, humans also have to expend, better coined with the term parental investment.

In iteroparous species, where individuals may go through several reproductive bouts during their lifetime, a trade off may exist between investment in current offspring and future reproduction.
What is Semelparity and iteroparity? There  are two types of species in relation to the reproductive strategy of an organism. A species is considered semelparous if it is characterized by a single reproductive episode before death, and iteroparous if it is characterized by multiple reproductive cycles over the course of its lifetime. This is comparable to the terms monocarp and polycarp of plant kingdom.

Trivers (1972) originally defined the term parental investment to mean any “investment by the parent in an individual offspring that increases the offspring's chance of surviving,  hence reproductive success at the cost of the parent's ability to invest in other offspring” Parents need to balance their offspring's demands against their own self-maintenance. This potential negative effect of parental care was explicitly formalised by parental investment. Parental investment is not the cost of raising a child i.e. the money spent for purchasing tin-milk etc. It means the time and energy the parents have to invest producing a child and make him survive and grow.   Theoretically, females invest more energy into producing child, This is elaborately discuss by Bateman, known as Bateman's principle.

Bateman's principle is the theory that females almost always invest more energy into producing offspring than males invest, and therefore in most species females are a limiting resource over which the other sex will compete. It is named for English geneticist Angus John Bateman (1919–1996).

According to Bateman's principle, typically it is the females who have a relatively larger investment in producing each offspring. Bateman attributed the origin of the unequal investment to the differences in the production of gametes: sperm are cheaper than eggs. A single male can easily fertilize all a female's eggs and she will not produce more offspring by mating with more than one male. A male is capable of fathering more offspring if he mates with several females. By and large, a male's potential reproductive success is limited by the number of females he mates with, whereas a female's potential reproductive success is limited by how many eggs she can produce. This results in sexual selection, in which males compete with each other, and females become choosy in which males to mate with. As a result of being anisogamous, males are fundamentally promiscuous, and females are fundamentally selective.

Bateman's observations came from his empirical work on mating behaviour in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). Bateman hypothesized that male reproductive success increases with number of mates, whereas female reproductive success does not. He believed that this hypothesis could be supported by illustrating the variance in number of mates between females and males, and by plotting reproductive success versus number of mates.

To test this observation, Bateman crossed virgin parent fruit flies that were each heterozygous for a unique dominant mutant phenotype. He placed 3–5 flies of each sex in milk bottles for 3–4 days, allowed the females to lay eggs, then removed the parent flies and counted the offspring once hatched. Because most (75%) of the offspring expressed the phenotypes of one or both parents, Bateman deduced how many mates each individual had by observing the offspring’s mutations. He judged reproductive success by counting the relative number of offspring sharing each parental phenotype (Bateman 1948). Bateman concluded that
a)      the variation in number of mates for males was greater than for females, and
b)      2) "The males show direct proportionality between number of mates and fertility... The females, provided they have been mated with at least once, show absolutely no effect of number of mates" (Bateman 1948)

Bateman concluded that:
A female can have only a limited number of offspring, whereas a male can have a virtually unlimited number, provided that he can find females willing to mate with him. Thus females generally need to be much choosier about who they mate with.

A male can easily produce sperm in excess of what it would take to fertilize all the females that could conceivably be available [...] Hence the development of the masculine emphasis on courtship and territoriality or other forms of conflict with competing males.
In most animals the fertility of the female is limited by egg production which causes a severe strain on their nutrition. In mammals the corresponding limiting factors are uterine nutrition and milk production, which together may be termed the capacity for rearing young. In the male, however, fertility is seldom likely to be limited by sperm production but rather by the number of inseminations or the number of females available to him... In general, then, the fertility of an individual female will be much more limited than the fertility of a male... This would explain why in unisexual organisms there is nearly always a combination of an undiscriminating eagerness in the males and a discriminating passivity in the females.

Among polygynous species, the variance in male reproductive success is likely to be greater than the variance in female reproductive success.
The female, with the rarest exceptions, is less eager than the male... she is coy, and may often be seen endeavouring for a long time to escape.

Exceptions and counter-examples of Bateman’s principle:
Some modern evolutionary biologists believe Bateman's principle is incorrect for such a large percentage of species that it should no longer be considered a valid principle. Olivia Judson (2002) argues that the formulation of Bateman's principle was limited by such things as short observation time in his experiments. Tim Birkhead (2001) has also documented extensive examples of exceptions to Bateman's principle, with a focus on sperm competition.

 Some flaws in Bateman’s study
Researchers have recently reconstructed Bateman’s original 1948 experiments and critiqued the results using a present-day understanding of genetics and statistics.
They found that many of Bateman’s conclusions were based on poor genetic techniques or statistical errors and oversights (Snyder & Gowaty 2007)

Bateman selected his mutant strains because they had visible morphological deformations (eyes, wings, bristles, etc.). These mutations were easily discernible but may have interfered with mating, mate selection, or mobility. Strains therefore had different reproductive success.
Pure-breeding mutant strains are often inbred, and inbred organisms typically have reduced reproductive success and fewer viable offspring. Also, many mutant strains are bred to eliminate most genetic variation other than the pure-breeding mutation, so individuals within a strain are nearly clones. Samples were therefore not completely independent, reducing the replicability and sample size of his study.

Several of the mutant strains are homozygous lethal, and individuals heterozygous for more than one mutation may have reduced viability. This would result in the premature death of some offspring genotypes, biasing Bateman’s counts.

Female flies take 4 days to reach sexual maturity, while males take only 1 day. Bateman ran experimental crosses for 3–4 days, using flies of different ages. This experiment window was not long enough for sexually immature females to mate more than once.
Several calculations of the variance in number of mates had arithmetic errors. New calculation shows that most of his results were not statistically significant.

The reanalysis of Bateman’s original data shows that reproductive success is positively and significantly correlated with number of mates in both males and females (though the trend, as predicted, is greater in males because they can't be pregnant). That is, both sexes benefit from mating with multiple partners, though males can't be pregnant so they are capable of more so.

 Females can be promiscuous
Bateman’s principle implies that females are choosy because there is little advantage for them to mate with multiple males. However, observation of many species, from rabbits to fruit flies, has shown that females have more offspring if they mate with a larger number of males. This seemingly contradicts Bateman's theory, specifically his conclusion that "while males had more children the more partners they mated with, females did not" (Judson 2002:). Exceptions to Bateman's principle abound, as do hypotheses explaining the evolution of female promiscuity. Females in fact have a lot to gain, depending on the species:
Genetic compatibility

Some combinations of male and females genomes are incompatible, causing abortion or reduced offspring viability. Mating with multiple males can increase likelihood of finding a compatible partner. For example, in the pseudoscorpion Cordylochernes scorpioides, females that mate once with two mates tend to have more offspring surviving to adulthood than females that mate twice with one mate. This is presumably because the female is putting her proverbial eggs in multiple baskets (Judson 2002; Knight 2002)
Reduced risk of inbreeding

Incompatibility and low offspring fitness is common in inbred populations where genetic diversity is low. Splendid Fairy-wrens (Malarus splendis) are relatively sedentary and have a low dispersal rate. Though the species is socially monogamous, mating within the social group would lead to a highly inbred population. Females sneak copulations with males outside the group, resulting in more successful, genetically diverse offspring (Brooker et al. 1990).
Protection against infanticide

Male chimpanzees, lions, and many other mammals, will kill unrelated offspring in order to bring the female into estrus, providing a mating opportunity for the male. By mating with multiple males, a female can confuse the paternity of her offspring, and males are less likely to commit infanticide if they may have sired the offspring (Judson 2002; Wolff & Macdonald 2004)
Bet-hedging against sterility

In some species, like the shiner perch (Cymatogaster aggregata), copulation and fertilization are separated by several months. If the female mated once, and the male’s sperm was unviable, she would have to wait until the next breeding cycle to mate again. Instead, the promiscuous female mates with multiple males to ensure that her eggs will be successfully fertilized (Judson 2002).
Males can be choosy:                   

Bateman bases his hypotheses on the assumption that males are promiscuous because their gametes are inexpensive and unlimited. However, the male reproductive expense can be great, and often this results in males choosing mates carefully. Several hypotheses explain the evolution of these behaviours.

Sperm is not always cheap
Although a single sperm normally takes little energy to produce, sometimes it takes substantial energy to produce them, or at least enough to fertilize a female’s eggs.

         In one species of fruit fly, Drosophila bifurca, males produce sperm with flagella 58mm long, and require 17 days for the testes to fully develop. Several hypotheses may explain the evolution of giant sperm—the sperm act as immediate parental investment by providing nutrition for the developing zygote; they are large enough to block the reproductive tract of the female, preventing sperm competition; the sperm are large enough to individually transfer to the female, so the male only needs to deposit enough sperm to fertilize the available eggs. Because the sperm are so big, there is a greater chance of successful fertilization (Méry & Joly 2002).

         A typical fairy-wren ejaculate may contain over 8 billion sperm (compared to about 180 million in humans). In these species, extra-pair copulation is common, so sperm competition is fierce. An individual can increase his chances of fertilizing the female’s egg by producing more sperm than his competitor. For this and many other species with a similar strategy, producing this many sperm requires a large resource investment that may take days or weeks to replenish (Pruett-Jones & Tuttle 2007).

Copulation can be demanding
Females of many species require multiple copulations in order to stimulate ovulation or to produce hormones to initiate pregnancy. This requires a high energy investment on the part of the males. Lionesses, for example, may require the stimulation from over 100 copulations to produce a single litter of cubs. This adaptation may ensure the strength and fitness of the lioness’ mate, which would result in higher quality offspring (Judson 2002).
Sex-role reversal: males may invest a lot

The most well-known exceptions to Bateman's principle are the existence of sex-role reversed species such as pipefish (seahorses), phalaropes and jacanas in which the males perform the majority of the parental care, and are cryptic while the females are highly ornamented and territorially aggressive (Emlen & Oring 1977;Knowlton 1982; Berglund, Widemo & Rosenqvist 2005). Because females in these species display the behavior predicted for males by Bateman, many believe that such examples actually support, rather than undermine, his principle (Flinn 2004).
Other examples of violations to Bateman's principle

Some species in which males will guard one female and mate only with her, attempting to prevent her from mating with any other males. Examples include stick insects and Idaho ground squirrels (Judson 2002:9–10). These observations also seem to challenge Bateman's theory, specifically the assertion that "a male's reproductive success increases with each female he mates."
Females do not always have a relatively larger investment in producing offspring. In species that reproduce by spawning (releasing sperm and eggs into water), for example, each sex's investment is approximately equal. In animals with internal fertilization, many sperm must be produced for every egg; so, even though it takes less energy to create one sperm than one egg, males of many species spend more energy making gametes than do females (Judson 2002:29–33).
The statement that the sex that invests the most in producing offspring will become a limiting resource is not always true. In flowers, for example, the female part of the flower invests more energy into making seeds than the male part of the flower does. The reproduction of most flowering plants, however, is limited by delivery of the male gametophyte – pollen – not by production of the female gamete (Judson 2002:197).

Bateman's statement "there is nearly always a combination of an undiscriminating eagerness in the males and a discriminating passivity in the females" and his assumption that anisogamous species would be polygynous have also been argued to be false, because females of many species mate with several males (Judson 2002:12–13).

By [Dr.KamalenduChakrabarti]

(Dr Kamalendu Chakrabarti is an internationally acclaimed  Kolkata-based Pediatrician, a known crusader for breastfeeding promotion in India, is an eminent writer and Health Editor at Bengal Newz.)


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