Come February and the entire nation turns deeply infected by ‘examina-virus’. We all parents, educators, teachers and schools start putting our children, right from grade 1 to 12, into a ‘pressure cooker’. All TV remote controls & cell phones get locked in the locker, newspapers are banned, outings are cut to zero and all eyes are focused on “kitna milega?”. While some fear of passing, some aspire to achieve better marks than their previous scores, few want to secure their ranks. What is consistent among all these is the unhealthy ‘pressure of achievement’.
In this process, parents are the one who are always at the receiving end of criticism, hatred and often termed as in-human. These are ‘Millennial parents’. Let me define millennial parents for you in a lighter vein. These rare species, found in India, who were largely borne in 70’s, were the last generation children who unconditionally obeyed to everything what their parents said and turned out to the ‘first generation of parents’ whose children don’t listen to anything that they say. This generation of parents, sadly, in the behest of insulating their children from all the challenges of life, couldn’t translate the values and struggles they have witnessed to achieve what they have in their lives.
Parents often are court-marshalled for putting excessive pressure on their children for marks. With no intentions of justifying it, one must realise that it’s the system & society force them to do so. Today’s education system and society gives utmost importance to marks, be it further studies, jobs or even social sanctity. That’s how the success is being measured. By rule, whatever gets measured gets done, and whatever gets rewarded gets done better. Parents, being part of the same society cannot be exceptions. They use different tactics, methods and ‘weapons’ to exercise this pressure on their children because they believe it to be the only way to ensure ‘success’ of their child. Till we mature, as a society, to take any examination as a tool to measure the progress and not the ultimate destination, this behavior will prevail, unfortunately!
Till we reach there, here are my two bits collected while working with children over last few years.
Firstly, believe in your child & he/she will not let you down. Every child is unique. We need to support them to find out their calling. Instead we become competitive and keep judging them with ‘Sharma ji ka beta’ all the times. And that puts them off. They either get disengaged, disobeyed or depressed with this constant comparison. Irrespective of their results or marks, let your child experience the faith of parents that they will stand by me no matter what the outcome is. This safety-net plays wonders. It reduces their fear of failure as they know they have a fall back. It makes them jump higher and often results not only in achieving greater success but trying hard.
Secondly, push them to prepare, don’t pull them up to achieve. Who knows our children better than ourselves? We know their limits and we also know how much they are capable of stretching. The biggest hurdle is to accept these limits. We must push them to prepare and stretch their limits incrementally without holding them for results. If they get rewards for their preparation, they themselves will turn into self-starters. Huddle up if they don’t. Change methods. This iterative process can turn into wonderful journey of co-discovering strengths of your child.
Thirdly, celebrate failures along with success. Don’t feel shy to update your social media status congratulating your child for getting 50-60% marks. Let them know that it’s a process to reach to their larger goal. Many of the times, we realize that our child is not cut out for what is being measured today. There is whole new world beyond maths, science & other subjects being taught. Hold them high so that they preserve their inner faith & confidence to give their best in what they are better.
Lastly, let your children live & discover themselves. In the process of being protective to pampering, we don’t realise when we cross a line to become prophets for our children. We directly or indirectly force our dreams and expect them to live/ fulfill them. We need to take a backstep. Help them to shape, and not dictate, their dream. The day they discover themselves, believe me, they will be simply unstoppable. We often see two extremes in parenting. One tries to be in the driving seat all the time while others just remain passengers. We should learn to be the facilitators of this journey. Enjoy!