Why do we look at children as an epitome of our personal aspirations?
“You know, Keisha’s daughter has won the prestigious award, her daughter is brilliant.” I overheard the conversation of mommies standing next to me while I was waiting for the school bus to arrive.
“Keisha is a stay- at- home mother, she left her job and dedicated herself completely to her daughter.” another lady retorted.
Being a working mother, the last sentences pinched me. ‘Am I doing enough for my children?’ a question lingered in my mind while I walked back home.
Parents need a platform to vent-out, they grab every opportunity to share their struggles and to stew competition in the heart of other mothers.
I started repelling such places to avoid that awful feeling budding inside me. (I get anxious discussing my parenting skills and growing waistline.)
Looking at children as an epitome of our personal aspirations:
Our world revolves around our children. We set our expectations and hope, and wish them to excel in every sphere.
Sometimes it gets entangled and we refuse to see what belongs to us and what to them.
We start overindulging when the line starts getting blurred between our expectations, derived from our own aspirations and the child's actual needs.
Often, our aspirations could creep in from our own achievements or unfulfilled desires, we have held for long.
‘I couldn’t become a doctor, so my child should.’
‘I was the class topper, so should she.’
‘Maths was my favourite subject, my son also needs to be in love with the numbers.’
‘My neighbour kid is a stage performer and a classical dancer, why not mine?’
Also, the environment brews competition - it feels we fail if we ignore to join the bandwagon.
The awakening and realisation to lose control:
The moment we hold the bundle of joy in our hands, we want the best for them. Loads of advice mounts us, some we find helpful, some obsolete.
And the urge to prove a coming-of-age mom drives us.
Which activities to enrol?
Which learning app and toys to buy?
Which book to read?
How to talk? What not to do?
Sometimes all these might turn us into a micromanaging control freak mom.
I realised in my journey to figure out what is in the best interest of my child, I am turning into an obsessive figure.
This could be sneaking inside me from my surroundings or my innate desire to prove the world that “I am the great mother and my child is the best.”
I looked around and saw the similar pattern - one of my friend’s daughter’s schedule was busier than her busy parents.
Her parents driving and scooping her from one class to another to ensure she excels. Poor kid, there was no time for her free play.
Her calendar was packed with the activities she hardly showed any interests in.
One day she cried that she wanted to play with her friends and didn’t want to go to the classes as she found them boring.
‘Unless you enjoy what you do, you won’t be able to excel in it’- we overlook such fundamentals.
Realisation to Nurture the child innate needs:
As the child grows, so do our aspirations. Children marks are another battle. God! exams are the nightmares - who excelled echoes all around.
How can my child excel? This question throbs our mind. Everyone wants to be at the top of the game without accepting that 'each child is different'. They could have different interest, abilities and preferences.
Not all can have similar academic interest and can perform at the similar level. We know, but we forget to accept child individuality and push them to perform on the set scale.
Schools play the same role, judging a child distinctive abilities on the basis of marks.
Childhood offers a stress-free, carefree time – it is a must.
Nothing can replace the joy of free play and we are snatching that pleasure from them.
Either they are cramped with a packed schedule or glued to TV, mobile, iPad, and the laptop.
While our children need to develop creativity, problem solving, grit, and perseverance which often takes a back seat.
Even for studies, unless they enjoy, they won’t learn or retain.
Instead of identifying their interests, abilities, we pick a popular area and chart out a plan in front of them to follow. That’s why most children find study repulsive, boring and forced.
Creativity breeds out of interest and passion.
A sane voice screeched inside me, “Is this I am doing for my child or my own ego boost?”
Academics is important - I need to be concerned about it but overindulgence, mounting, undue pressure on the child - feel unjustified to me.
I questioned myself, “what exactly I am looking for?”
Do I want my child to achieve academic excellence for a better professional life and secure living-is this my only goal?
Or I want a confident, valued grown up adult who knows what she wants and can work towards it.
What is the success criteria?
Scoring great marks may give access to opportunity, but marks do not guarantee success.
If we take professional achievement into account.
The current world is dynamic - in the next decades, the probable changes are going to be massive.
We are teaching our children according to current demands, but will this demand last after a decade?
How only marks could guarantee future success?
It may provide easy entry to a few places, but success is a long process. Life is not only about employment and material success, it’s beyond that.
The end product is happiness, the process to achieve a happy and successful life requires a strong, confident self - Here it gets challenging.
So why hassle over grades? Instead, why not prepare them for change and make them learn to adapt. Teach them how to overcome failures and face challenges.
Our children need to learn to:
· Fight inner battles
· Cope with challenges and failures
· Learn to evolve with the evolving world
· Value people and relationship and to fall and rise
Since I changed my perspective, I feel better. At least I am out of the rat race.
I realised my job as a parent is to help my children to explore their own potential, pick their own battles and fight with determination. I am there to support and guide when they need. I accepted that it’s not about me, it’s about them.
After all, a calm and happy mind is productive, and excellent scores are the by-product.
Would love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment to know what do you feel and how do you wish to raise your children?