For the past month, Kisan Mehta has been dropping his daughter off to her school bus stop after his morning walk.
Her Class X board exams begin in a month and Mehta wants to give her as much moral support as he can without taking the extreme step of quitting his job. So he has altered his routine.
"I engage her in conversation, which is often mundane, just to lend her a ear," said Mehta, an educationist. "Her needs are my priority and I make sure I am accessible."
The months before board exams are often as stressful for parents as their children, especially if both parents have demanding day jobs.
"There is a certain inevitable and acceptable anxiety component vis-a-vis exams," explained Terence Quadros, director of the counselling centre at St. Xavier's College. "How much of it, how long it continues and the consequences have to be worked out. Parents need to watch out for transference of anxiety on to the child taking the exam. Nagging the child only leads to resistance to study."
With a daughter appearing for the SSC exam and son appearing for his HSC exam, Louella Pimento's days are packed. "I anticipated this and have been grooming them for this for a year."
"I help them manage their time better, but I am mostly around for emotional support," said the Borivli resident, who gave up her job to raise her children. "As parents, we have to understand their patterns and not force our ideas on them. For instance, my daughter can only study through the night but my son is an early
riser. One has to give them freedom as long as they get the job done."
For working couples, parenting during and before the board exams can be challenging. "As a teacher, I have to supervise exams myself and cannot take leave during my daughter's approaching boards," said Harsha Vijaywarji. "She is very independent, and doesn't need the added pressure of having me around. I keep an eye on her from a distance and make sure all her food and sleep needs are met."
Not all parents are so equanimous. On the contrary, parents are likelier candidates for counselling than their children, according to psychiatrist Harish Shetty.
In the run-up to the exams, Shetty often conducts counselling sessions for parents facing the board exam ordeal for the first time.
"Parents often commit two follies during these set of exams: they express their unreasonable expectations and draw comparisons with past scores or other students," said Shetty. "But it is crucial at this time to keep the child's morale intact."