Itís not a childís world

We work towards improving the way we look, hanker after lucrative job offers, keep long unpleasant battles with spouses undercover and bully the kids into portraying the socially acceptable form of the perfect kid, writes Aditi Garg

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In our fiercely competitive world, we tend to struggle on various grounds. We vie for superiority in our work sphere with our colleagues whom we consider a threat to our supremacy. At the home front we want to be the best homemakers and providers. In our circle of friends, we compete on different levels. We want to be the best dressed, have the most sought after job, want an adoring spouse and kids who would be parentsí dream. Kids will be kids and parents will be, well, kids too! Right from the moment a child opens up his eyes for the first time, he is launched into what the shape of things will be for quite some time. Apart from the cooing, either of or both the parents exclaim, "Isnít he the cutest!" That marks his journey through his formative years. He is introduced into the competition that his parents have made their own. But for now, being the cutest and making the right sounds should suffice.

As he grows and interacts with other kids his age, his parentsí ambitions become more cut-throat. Now, there is so much more to vie for.

The length to which parents can go in coercing them to do things that they cannot or simply do not want to do is evident from the increasing number of help-lines available for children. We want our kids to be the best in studies, excel in extra-curricular activities, have impeccable manners, be witty, smart and so goes the list. There is no denying that there are kids who are truly gifted in every which way. But then, there are couples who get along like a house on fire, are always in tune with fashion, earn handsome salaries and are just about everything you want to be. Still, do we not get on with our lives after the initial pangs of jealousy die down?

But then we tell ourselves, "My kids must have all that I couldnít." How convenient!

Rajshree Sarda, a Chandigarh-based psychologist states that little children are not able to articulate their feelings and feel stressed out. When they refuse to participate in the activities their parents insist, their refusal is not taken seriously. The elder children can become very unhappy and may confide in their friends. They are emotionally and financially dependent on their parents and refrain from outbursts. Their reluctance is manifested as passive resistance. They may start indulging in delaying tactics and also complain of stomach aches, headaches, nausea and sleepiness. Such behaviour should immediately be noticed as not regular and the necessary changes be brought about in their lifestyle.

When the baby turns into a toddler, the parents start comparing him to everyone roughly his age. From he-walkedĖso-early-you-canít-believe-it to he-already-calls-out-to-me, they have a chip on their shoulder and all you can hear is baby-talk. The only time they smilingly relent is when their own parents tell them how early they talked and walked. After all, this rightly implies that the kid takes after them. We are ready to crown him the moment he gives us something to talk about and God forbid, should he disappoint them, be ready for tantrums- adult style.

If the neighbours son/ daughter walks before their own, a doctorís appointment to rule out a problem is just a week away. Tripping ever-so-often between the fine line that divides helping the child achieve his potential and pushing him for everything, parents unknowingly put the burden of performance on their tender shoulders.

By the time the child reaches school, you can see mothers making a beeline to meet the teachers. Extolling each and every one of their virtues, they donít stop till they have, according to them, convinced the teacher that the child is single-handed capable of carrying out all bits of any annual function or sports day. At the parents-teacher meet, be ready to wait for your turn beyond your stipulated time. Parent after parent will sit and argue with the teacher for that one mark that she deducted in a particular subject. Not stopping at that, they expect the teacher to explain to the child why he should not waste time playing and rather go for drawing, tennis, singing, computer and any number of activities.

Try starting a conversation about gadgets with any parent; be sure it can go only one way. ĎMy son/daughter was barely two when he started playing games on the computer. He can play games on the tablets also. He is a real genius!í Donít even be tempted to say that he should probably be playing real games and with other kids. Hell hath no fury as a parent scorned. Have you ever come across a mother looking forlorn in the midst of a party? It is most probably because her child embarrassed her by not talking in English with someone she was trying to show-off to or he had not sounded smart enough. What a waste of all the classes after classes she had been towing him to. And be sure the child would be in for grilling and a lot of emotional blackmail; with most sentences ending with: "Am I not doing enough for you?" We are probably doing way too much. High time we learnt to let kids be.