A few days ago I saw some parents in Norway being held for mishandling their children because the child had peed in his pants, some days ago I read an article where few youngsters killed 3 members of a family to steal money and later the teenager confessed being partner in crime himself to make things equal with his kin and then I read another newspapers article of horror killing by a brother who cut his sisters throat for marrying her love. All different incidences, in different places, different religions and most importantly different socio-economic conditions. I do not know how many of us read so many stories everyday in the papers and then steal away our faces from them linking these stories to various reasons economical, material, cultural, regional etc and believe they will never come face to face with us. How blind we are? I wonder.
When we read stories like these I feel an instant urge of connecting them all together by our basic unit in society “Family” and most importantly a trait that all these stories had “Obsessive Parenting.” You may ask me how and why do I connect them this way but I have a reason to do so.
Parenting is a natural instinct of any life form. In nature it is brought into an animal as basic instinct which transfers through genes and inspires every animal to be the perfect parent without any external help. The role of parent begins from the day the child is conceived in the womb of the mother. The feeding, needing, resting and loving of the child can be seen easily in the body language of animals.
However nature also has different ways of parenting:
If I begin from the smallest life sources of bacteria which split in the process of creating the next one and next level of insects or few other egg laying animals. They let the young one discover their world all by themselves all alone scientifically correct because being simple life forms their functions in their bodies are extremely limited and do not specifically need any training from their parents. Their large numbers is the guarantee of survival of their race.
The next one is some other egg laying animals like birds, some reptiles and mostly mammals. Each of them is a complex life form and thus each of them shares small or big special role as a parent in helping the little one adapt with the new world. And then after sometime lets the child find a new horizon.
The next level is us. Human beings, probably the most complex life form available on earth. Thanks to our brain development we share the most unique relationship with our children. Not only does a human parent help the child adapt to the new world but also become the provider of every need, protector at every danger and guide to every action. This is indeed the most wonderful of all relationships on earth. Until came the time when we got obsessed with our children.
The reason behind all these 3 incidents was the extreme urge of the parents to make their child perfect. Perfect according to what they believe was right. The first incident of Norway the parents wanted their specially gifted child to adapt to the ways as a normal child – all good in their intention but that desire went to outdo the child’s capacity to change his present abilities. The next incident the teenager was compared to the extremes with his kin – again all good in the intention of the parent to improve the child, but that criticism, comparison and constant rejection was killing the teenager from within. Then a little attention and acceptance from his “so called” friends pulled him into the circle of crime. The next was still more extreme I still keep wondering how obsessed the brother was that he could cut the throat of his sister in full public , so convinced he was that it is good to cut her throat than let her be married to someone outside her caste. Such deep convinced notion to make our children “be accepted” by society, by family and even by our caste/religion.
Why are we trying to make our children so perfect? Why do we want to design every move they make? Why are we trying to prove they are wrong in what they do? Why at all we are being Gods in their lives?
The deeper answer lies in our idea of “My” or “Our” Child. From the day the child is conceived in the womb of the mother. Parents get struck with the idea of bringing up the best child as perfect as their capacity and vision would permit. “My” child has to better than xyz , “Our” child would follow some abc code of conduct they would be appreciated by the society in any other case they would be shunned and God forbid if your child is not normal by your standards you’d bend hand and legs to put things to normal.
The attachment to the thought of “My” or “Our” child is so in-grilled that every tiny sway from your perfect standards is an attack on your face, your image. Outside nature human parenting has forgotten that every young one no matter how deeply attached to us is a separate individual, a separate thinking mind and life learns to find best way for itself. No matter how naïve or immature their action is, by their standards they try their best. The role of the parent is to guide and bend the actions towards best with protection and love not by force, comparison, criticism and definitely not by anger and punishments.
As the human civilization has grown the idea of individual freedom has deeply taken place in our democracies and most evolved laws in world have been made to protect them. No freedom in world is complete if there’s no sense of respect. In similar way a parent child relationship is also deeply rooted to understanding the individuality of the child, freedom to the child to grow up with his best qualities and giving the child his due “Respect”. Respect comes when we learn to accept the present individual as he is and then try to work around it. When we separate our image of being a “Perfect Parent” with the image of the tender child. We would then be able to see the deeper needs of the child.
Today is the time when parents struggle in parenting. When counselors are needed to bridge the gap between the parent and the child. When hundreds of books are being written on parenting and perfection in it and yet we see generations drifting away from each other. Why? Today parents have learnt to “let us talk about it” method but they sit with a mind convinced whatever child does is wrong. How can such a talk be fruitful??? The child returns the mind what the parent is doing is wrong. This is not just a teenage problem it impacts how we have grown up as individuals and therefore affects society and country as whole. We tag everybody as wrong or right and complex childhood is the prime reason of our complex adulthood problems.
Something drastically went wrong in our ways of handling children in our parenting. Today if a parent comes to know about his teenager drinking, smoking or bunking school havoc is created in the home, the fear inside the parent of being a bad/non competent parent works before the feeling of handling the need inside the child. The cigarette or drinking or bunking school can be wrong but your young one wanting do that is not wrong, it is alarming to see what need has been missed ? Why the strength of the child fell pray towards such acts. Why could he not say no? But instead possessiveness drives us to think “I have failed as parent”. Once I drown how I can then pick up my child.
Some can argue nature’s way is not the best way. You can just not let go of your child especially in such a competitive environment but sit back for a second and think is it really possible for parents to hold hands of their children at every move? Can we really bend ways and make child perfect? Even if we do that will your child always be happy who gives this guarantee? No one, yes no one gives guarantee of happiness and even the most probable paths of happiness cannot guarantee it. But freedom will, a free mind is always a happy mind.
A child is like a plant you put a little support, some attention and care it will grow and find out its way. Develop physical, emotional, social and spiritual world of child not with force but with logic. Trust the capacity and instinct of the child help him make his decisions. Individual freedom blooms like flower, received respect always returns respect.
Perfection is good with objects not with living beings. Change in a home can change the world.