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Let Your Children Grow, Don't Crush Them With Expectations

07/04/2016 8:29 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Watch out for your child's fatigue.

He could be buckling under unrealistic expectations.

My association with education has brought me in contact with students and their guardians from all fragments of society. A particular incident remains etched in my mind. A mother of a nine year old was gushing to fellow parents about how she was pushing for newspaper coverage of an award won by her child at a game. Achievements have to be lauded and parents feel proud, but what got me wondering was whether such coverage would change the nature of the achievement.

If so, for whom?

Is it the child in the picture?

Or is it for the parent to cash in on a bit of social interest generated among friends and neighbours? A bid to improve perceived social standing?

It has become less about the child's attitude towards his success or failure, and more about the parents' chance to rave to friends and family.

We are living in dynamic times. The subtle pleasures of childhood are fast fading, partly due to technological interventions and mostly due to pressures of time. Along with their heavy bag of books, children can surely do without the burden of expectations from parents who should ideally be a shoulder to rest on after a tiring day.

They are dealing with too much pressure to perform already--peer pressure too--and have been ever since you made them spend an hour or two each at a dance class, swimming, then music, a bit of skating sprinkled in (because someone told you roller skating is the 'in' thing, didn't they?). Have you assessed the tender capacity you are gnawing at each day without rest? Is it your will or theirs?

And in the age of social media, we have observed, unfortunately, that it has become less about the child's attitude towards his success or failure, and more about the parents' chance to rave to friends and family.

Leave aside social validation for once. It's time to realize it that your ward's happiness matters more.

Spare a thought.

What if the child has a less fortunate sibling and what if you rave less about him/her? Or what if a success is followed by failure? Are you willing to celebrate the failure as well, egging on your ward till success comes again? Chances are you haven't or won't.

We are taught to be good, never told that good and bad, success and failure are two sides of the same coin. Leave aside social validation for once. It's time to realize it that your ward's happiness matters more. This happiness could be derived even from something you perceive to be inconsequential, but for the child, it may be his world. Beyond the initial years of growing up, when a hand rocks the cradle in protection, there is need for the child to stumble and fall and rise up again so they know which stone to avoid when they walk next.

Our teachers share with me how when a child is asked about a future choice of profession, an innocent answer received most of the time looks like, "I want to be a pilot, but my father wants me to be a doctor."

The twain shall never meet.

There is need for the child to stumble and fall and rise up again so they know which stone to avoid when they walk next.

We should respect our children's wishes. Let the Arts win if that is the choice and area of interest. It is a misconception that Science is more lucrative. The student succeeds where she finds her calling.

Also, accept flaws in children and don't blame yourself for them. One doesn't have to be perfect to gain a mindshare and audience. Remember that the hands working behind the scenes to deliver a perfect show are as important as the performer dancing on stage.

Do steal an opportunity to salute that spirit.

Unnecessary social pressures only create unwanted stigma. If your neighbour's child has bagged a ticket to the 'wanted' university abroad, it does not mean yours cannot flourish in the domestic market. The focus should be on tapping and nurturing skills early, understanding them and channelizing them in the correct direction. Prepare children to face the world head-on. And let them accept the world with all its flaws and imperfections.

Prepare children to face the world head-on. And let them accept the world with all its flaws and imperfections.

They should be told that failures are steps to success and not the ultimate doom. It is indeed time for parents to do a self-analysis of where they have gone wrong. Their errors are well manifested in the society we live in today.

Student suicides have gone up. Drop-out cases are on the rise. There is still a lacuna to bridge between educating a son and daughter. These should not find a place in an ideal society. We can surely do better than this.

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