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Could You Be Leading Your Kids Astray Without Even Knowing It?

19/08/2016 1:12 PM IST | Updated 20/08/2016 9:02 AM IST
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Andrew Rich

Gaurav, a 25-year-old, is an engineering graduate. With a GPA of 10 all through his academic career, Gaurav does not know what it is to be second best. However, he is unable to stick to any job for more than three months and has already switched three companies. He cannot handle criticism. Gaurav's father, Rajesh, just doesn't know what to do.

Rajesh and Rakhi never had a "bad day" at Gaurav's school. Intellectually gifted, every Open House was a proud day in their lives. Report cards that spoke of him in glowing terms as the future of the country adorned Gaurav's book shelves. Topping almost every competitive exam, entering the best engineering college in the country to being handpicked at the campus placement for the most lucrative job, Gaurav had done it all.

Parents who transfer their ambitions to their children do not realize how their actions can prove detrimental to the future of their kids.

But today he is on shaky ground. He rarely agrees with his boss and his juniors tease him. His is a loner. He is never a team player.

Where had Rajesh and Rakhi faltered?

Though they motivated him to study and excel, they never let him develop his friendships. He never went for birthday parties. He usually got books and computer games as gifts. Never was he gifted board games or anything that he could do in a group. He spent lonely evenings as a child, poring over his books when other kids his age were out in the streets having fun. Ever confident that academic success would ensure success in life, his parents displayed all his medals on the showcase for all to see. Each time he saw the medals he was reminded that he had to deliver a perfect performance next time round too.

Parents carry their own baggage while rearing their kids. At times they never grow up to be adults themselves. The child in them wants to take refuge in their own parents, the system and every external source of strength rather than their own inner one. They do not evolve themselves nor do they allow their kids to evolve. Evolution happens when you break the norm.

Parents who transfer their ambitions to their children and try to live their dreams through them do not realize how their actions can prove detrimental to the future of their kids. The pressure to measure up to the expectations of the parent plays on their mind. Once they begin to succeed, they begin to exert the pressure of having to rise up to their own expectations. Any failure lowers their self-esteem.

Gaurav, today, is looking out for help to restore his self-esteem

Are you nurturing a Gaurav in your house?

***

Three-year-old Nishith refused to go to school one fine day. Try as much as they did, his parents couldn't convince him to go to school. The teachers also grew worried. As far as they knew, Nishith enjoyed school. He picked up things fast. And he really had a good time in school. What had gone wrong? So his teacher went home.

The school had made Mama angry with him. He wouldn't come to school. He wouldn't make any more mistakes, thought three-year-old Nishith.

While speaking to him, she realized that the day prior to the one he stopped school, he had made a mistake while doing his writing. Though the teacher had only corrected him, he was reprimanded by his mother very severely for this mistake. And little Nishith was upset and angry at himself and the school.

The school had made Mama angry with him. He wouldn't come to school. He wouldn't make any more mistakes. Mama wouldn't get angry with him and that was all that mattered in the life of little Nishith.

***

My next case spans three generations. Patriarch Raghunath Singh believed that children should only be seen and not heard. Having been in the military, he believed in ordering his kids as he did his soldiers. His word was always the final one. His kids had no say in any decision whatsoever. He never asked for their opinion. He believed that kids were meant to be implicitly obedient.

His son Rahil grew up an angry man. Angry with his father for never letting him do what he wanted as a child, he rebelled against Raghunath Singh. He refused to join the army, walked out of his home in Punjab, ran away to Bombay (as it was called in those days) and struck it out on his own. Slowly and surely he built up his own business and became a successful businessman. He lived life king size.

This second generation father was thrilled to see his son Tanay growing up into a strapping young lad. Rahil ensured that he did nothing that his father had. He let Tanay do what he wanted. Tanay grew up to be a free-spirited boy who never knew any boundaries. No limits were set for him. The best schools, the best books, the best movies, the best toys, the best parties among his group of friends: Tanay had them all.

His dad is the "coolest" father in his gang. His friends envy him. Rahil never denies Tanay anything. He is constantly praised for everything he does.

When was the last time you shook yourself up and thought: What am I telling my kids?

Tanay today is confused. He is unsure of himself. He lacks a sense of direction in life. He doesn't know if his father Rahil can give him any answers. He feels his father is a good friend but doesn't know to whom to turn to when he needs a philosopher or guide. His father does not exude the comfort that he seeks. He lacks faith. His father failed to nurture faith in him.

***

The main issue which stalks all the above cases is the lack of communication. All parents -- Rajesh and Rakhi, Nishith's mother, Raghunath Singh and Rahil -- all failed to communicate with their children. They projected visions of what a child should be to their children. They tried to mould them in that manner. They never tried to find out what the kids wanted.

Gaurav is a product of his parents' misplaced pride in success and achievement.

Rahil is a product of misplaced regulations and discipline.

Tanay is a product of misplaced anger.

When was the last time you shook yourself up and thought: What am I telling my kids?

Golden Baba

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