Two babies were 'caught' in Delhi International Airport a few days ago with 16kg of gold stuffed into their diapers! The families they belonged to took a flight from Dubai to Delhi and very cleverly (they hoped), they "hid" the gold in the last place they thought custom officials would look—a baby's backside.
When I heard this, my initial reaction was laughter, but it slowly turned to bewilderment and sadness thinking about the plight of those two babies. Babies who can't talk and voice their disapproval even if they wanted to.
Your children may have come through you, but they do not belong to you.
As parents, we think we have every right over our children. We own them. After all, for the most part we "made" them, so to speak.
While the above scenario may be an extreme case, we all make questionable decisions vis-à-vis our children at some point in our parenting journey. It's a thought that gets reinforced as we navigate our way through parenthood—that our children are the one thing that will ever really be our own.
It's time we re-think this idea. Your children may have come through you, but they do not belong to you. They have a separate identity, and while you may share facial features and mannerisms, they are NOT you.
I often come across young children who are bombarded with classes which they don't even enjoy. Competition levels in this country are so high, and many parents want to have brilliant, over-performing children who can read and write by the age of three. Some do it to kill time and entertain their children, and to each their own, as it rightly should be. But are you really helping them? Have you asked them if they are truly enjoying themselves? Or are you doing it for yourself so you can feel great about having a genius as your child?
Our children are not here to fill up the holes in us of dreams that weren't fulfilled, or lives that weren't led.
Boys are put in cricket or football because that is the macho thing to do, and girls in dance and singing classes because that is what poised girls do, apparently. I met a little girl the other day who was dreading going for dance class, and I asked her why she did it. And she said it was because her mom wanted her to do it, although she didn't enjoy it. She'd really rather bake, or read a book. She was living her mother's dream, not her own.
If you are a student who is about to get into college, you know the sort of pressure kids have to get into courses related to either engineering or medicine in India—because, again, that's what their parents want them to do. Because that's what society wants parents to do. It all just ends up being one vicious circle—parents putting their dreams and expectations on their kids and not allowing them to have their own
I always remind myself of what Kahlil Gibran once said:
You may give your children your love, but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies, but not their souls
For their souls swell in the house of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams
You may strive to be like them
But seek not to make them like you.
For heaven's sake, "seek not to make them like you". They are not us. Our children have their own minds, their own characters, their own spirit. Our children are not here to fill up the holes in us of dreams that weren't fulfilled, or lives that weren't led.
They are beautiful, whole and complete—irrespective of what you are.
The most valuable gift we can give our children is the gift to discover who they truly are—not who we want them to be. Ask them if they are enjoying growing up every day. Give them self-confidence to be themselves, and be aware of the moments you are trying to make them like you. Remind yourself they are not an extension of you. They are beautiful, whole and complete—irrespective of what you are.
And you'll see, they'll end up happier and better equipped for life—and perhaps, you too will learn a thing or two from them.