We parents are forever in a competitive mode these days. There are hordes of us out there with the wrong idea about how we can propel our children into becoming ‘world-beaters’. There is so much eagerness and ambition in parents to see their children atop the highest of pedestals that they all but stifle their young ones.
Thus we find parents boasting about the accomplishments and talents of their progeny at dinners and ‘kitties’. The children become, as it were, trophies to display and tom-tom about. We go to town with the information that our growing kids having attained a milestone much ahead of time. We do not hesitate to broadcast the news that we have a star-in-the making at home often with adverse results.
There is indeed a time to celebrate achievement and a time to highlight it to the world at large. But what we tend to do at times is to put unseemly pressure on our youth by playing them up too early in their learning curve. The result is that the youngster concerned usually loses focus and typically does not live up to expectations when his time comes.
A more common problem is constant pressure of the opposite kind though. Some parents tend to keep denigrating their children and pressing them to raise the level of their performance.
At a Talk which I delivered not so long ago, a schoolboy rose from the rear portion of the audience to ask me a question. “My parents keep comparing me with others all the time. What should I do?”
He spoke with some pain in his voice, clearly feeling the impact of the constant barrage of comparison that his folks carried out every day.
I paused and reflected before answering him. Hundreds of questions had hitherto been thrust upon me by attendees at similar events, but never one that was quite as sensitive. After the pause I was ready with the answer that I thought was best suited to the occasion. Over 500 students gazed at me with eager eyes. Most of them clearly faced the same dilemma at home. I took a deep breath before I spoke, knowing well that my answer would impact the mind of each boy present.
‘Do you think that your parents love you?’ I asked the boy. “Do you think they want the best for you? I am sure that the answer to both questions is ‘Yes’! Once you realise this and know it from within, you will understand that their methods may be incorrect but their intentions are not. You should not feel demoralised. You may be better than that other boy in several things, even if he is better than you at some. You have to take such moments in your stride, remain positive and improve yourself bit by bit.”
I looked intently at the questioner while speaking and noticed that he looked more relaxed. So did several others. I felt as if I had passed a test in front of hundreds of little examiners!
What really matters in life? This is the query that I wish to pose to parents who overly pressurise their kids. Yes indeed, academic performance matters and some children need to work harder than they do, so they need to be pushed. But are the marks attained in school always indicative of a successful life ahead? There are numerous instances of people who do well in life due to other talents like confidence, communication skills, artistic acumen, sporting prowess or sheer verve and entrepreneurial spirit!
It is thus imperative that we parents should take a ‘chill-pill’ and relax a little instead of fretting all the time about our little ones. Loving encouragement with a little firmness when necessary is the way to bring them up! Pontificating to them all the time is not going to work.
We human beings are constantly engaged in combating life’s circumstances, and there is no time to pause and reflect. But when it comes to our kids, we simply have to take a reality check from time to time and correct our course if need be. It might just be too late if we do not!
(The writer is an administrator, author, and motivational speaker)