Lately, I have been quite disturbed by the growing number of suicide cases among children. We read about these cases in newspapers everyday and feel upset for those few minutes but then get back to our routines. Have we ever tried to analyze the reasons for such actions?
Do we realize our responsibility as adults of this society to take steps to stop this act of weakness?
“Suicide”- the word itself creates shivers and numbness in our mind.
Then why are the teenagers of this so called sophisticated, modern, independent, solution oriented and technologically advanced society allured into it?
Doesn’t it raise some serious questions in our minds about our parenting and the value system of our society?
I tried to analyze a few of the reasons as per my understanding, though I am not an expert at parenting nor am I a Psychologist. You may or may not agree to these.
- Passion for Perfection:
Have you ever imagined the plight of parents when their young studious, hardworking and intelligent child is forced to take this drastic step when he or she is unable to cope up with the pressure of studies?
We are living in a society where scoring 100% or around 100% (don’t you dare go below 95%!) in all subjects is considered as the rule of the game else you do not get enrolled in a college/university of your choice.
I mean a 100% or 99% in all the subjects?
You mean that the child is not allowed to commit even a single mistake in those three hours?
So, the child should be perfect in English, the language; Mathematics, the logic and calculations as well as in his/her chosen stream- science/commerce/humanities!
Wow! Today’s children are genius, I must say or an entirely different breed!
Can you imagine the kind of pressure the child is carrying in his/her mind and soul when he/she appears for the examination with this expectation given by us that he/she has to score a 100% or near 100%?
Do you really think that he/she will be able to put in his/her best under such circumstances?
And then we even have the audacity of scolding/reprimanding the child if he/she is unable to score as per our expectations!
Are we grooming our children to become robots or machines? I guess we are forgetting that they were born as humans!
I understand that we want to secure our child’s future but if he/she doesn’t score a perfect 100 or above 95, is his/her future doomed?
Will all his learning go waste if he fails those three hours?
Is our education system really doing justice to the hard work and brilliance of hundreds of children?
Are we forcing the child to take some drastic step?
We instruct them all the dos’s and don’ts but we forget to advise them that life doesn’t end if they score a little less. The world is full of opportunities, if only we step out to seek them. Depression/humiliation/scolding over score will only shake the confidence of a brilliant child.
And aren’t we also forgetting the challenges we faced as children while studying in our own times?
Did anyone ever score a 100% or even 95% in all subjects in our times? I guess, no.
Then how did this bar of assessment get stretched so far in last 20 years?
Who has raised this measure of evaluation to such levels that children are struggling to achieve it and if they don’t, the society and the children themselves consider themselves as failure?
Who is a failure here- the child who commits suicide, the parents, the society or the education system?
“Better than the best”, is what I read somewhere….better than the best?
Doesn’t English language define degrees of comparison as “Good/Better/Best”?
Then what is “better than the best”?
What kind of a standard are we looking for?
Are we so obsessed with perfection that we cannot accept anything beyond a perfect child?
- All rounder:
Here comes another diktat of the society.
A child who is not only a master of his studies but is an all rounder; meaning, he excels in sports; wins a medal or two in debates as well; is emotionally strong; socially active; technologically updated; even able to swing his body at popular music; aware of his surroundings and the list goes on.
The poor child, who gets up at dawn, is unable to rest till dusk.
We forget that he is still a teenager dependent on us!
By putting him to test on so many parameters, we feel we are making him strong to face the challenges of life.
Do we, really?
Yes, it might be true of a few (God gifted, as we call them) children but then those are just a handful of kids. How can we commit the mistake of keeping it as a measure of evaluation of each child’s success?
Are we not supposed to run the capability test?
Are we not expected to check their interests?
In an effort to give him exposure to every thing in life, we are either creating a confusing personality or a child who would always look for options or backup in life.
Have you ever seen a single employee handling all the management functions in a company? We have different departments and different resources for Admin, HR, Marketing, Finance, Operations and Customer Service. Why does the same person not handle all functions?
Because each function needs specialization and we do not expect one person to possess all the capabilities. Isn’t it?
Then how and why we expect little children to excel in everything?
- He is better than you!
Comparison! Another weapon which we use to pressurize our kids.
If they do not live up to our expectations, we start comparing them to other kids.
“If Aadit can score a perfect, why can’t you? Does he eat something special?”
“Manav goes for football classes; Tanya for chess and robotics; Shaurya takes cricket and tennis coaching; Puneet knows swimming and skating. His mom said he’s a great artist too.”
Manav or Shaurya might be sports freak but your child is not! Each child is unique in his own way! Manav is Manav and Aadit is Aadit. They are all special with different capabilities, quite the same way as you are different from Manav’s father or Aadit’s mom!
Comparison is the root of inferiority/superiority complex, which in turn leads to competition, jealousy, ego and all negativities in a child’s personality.
We must accept each child’s individuality and groom him accordingly.
- You will live my dreams!
Some parents have this earnest desire of making their child a puppet of their dreams. They want their child to pursue their unaccomplished career. Why?
“Since I couldn’t be a painter, I want my kid to learn painting”, argue some parents, irrespective of the fact that the poor kid has a melodious voice and loves to sing!
“I always wanted to be a computer engineer but my father wanted me to take over his business, so I couldn’t pursue my passion. Now, I want my daughter to bring my passion alive”, stated one father.
But he isn’t even aware that his daughter, who is so creative and sharp, dreams to be a fashion designer. She has no interest in programming languages!
Why do we try to live our lives through their lives?
Why do we wish to fulfill our dreams and expectations through them?
Whatever we couldn’t do as a child, we start expecting from our children.
Then how and when will they fulfill their own dreams……..through their children again? Is it some kind of a ritual that we will pass on to our successors over generations?
We, as parents, definitely have the right and the responsibility to decide the future of our children but can’t we act as guide rather than dictators?
Can’t we support and stand by our children in their efforts for accomplishment of their dreams?
Shouldn’t we respect their choice/preference as well?
- Technology at Play
We are living in 21st century where a person’s worth is judged by the number and brand of gadgets that he/she carries and the number of times his social media status is updated. Then how can we expect our children to be reclusive?
This category of children, called Gen Z kids, spend most of their time with friends or gadgets, clicking and uploading selfies and party pictures and updates about their personal lives, at times betraying the trust of their parents.
When their brainy pals are burning the midnight oil, these Gen Z kids are enjoying night-outs on pretext of joint studies. So far so good but the problem arises when exam time approaches, as all their lies will now come to light with their results! Not only would they be unable to face and explain their parents but they would also be let down in front of their friends! The fear and shame mixed together ignites them to go beyond their limits.
I would conclude by saying that parenting has become one of the most difficult tasks these days. To strike a balance between your own aspirations and the dreams and desires of children in a world where everything is accessible at fingertips, is indeed challenging.
But nevertheless, we must protect, support and guide our children, as they will determine the course of our society in future. Teaching them life skills for their emotional growth is equally desirable so that they are able to recover from such situations.