They say the most talked about topics in any part of the world are weather and politics! However, if you talk to parents anywhere, then obviously their children’s career would be the most discussed topic. There is no doubt that parents are always preoccupied with the need to plan ahead for their child’s future. Right from the day the child begins to walk, they open a planner in their mind – Which language medium to choose… Which school to join… Which syllabus – State, CBSE, ICSE… What type of hobbies to inculcate – sports, music, dance… and finally, which career to focus on – engineering, medical, management, etc!
The biggest concern among all parents is whether their children will grow up to do better academically and be successful in their career. This worry constantly looms in the backs of their heads and affects every action the parents undertake.
There are one set of parents who have a simple desire – their child should achieve excellence in academics and get a good career so that it can support them in their old age. A child can make a good a career in any field, however, the problem begins when a parent decides to make her child an engineer or a doctor early in childhood. From then on, every step the child takes must be oriented towards achieving the end goal. The child has to focus on academic studies and sideline everything else. The movie ‘Three Idiots’ vividly illustrates the result of their endeavour – concentrated H2SO4 ne pura bachpan ko jala dala!
There are another set of parents who want their child to be a super achiever in everything. These are the ones who will push their child to centre stage in every get together to perform in front of everyone. Such parents put enormous pressure on their child to score high marks in academics, achieve excellence in sports and in extra-curricular activities as well. With the explosion of reality shows on TV and the internet, parents push their children to excel so that they gain bask in their reflected glory. You might have seen such tiger moms and dads who quarrel with reality show judges to change their judgement about their child’s performance! Obviously, every child is differently skilled and cannot be judged on the same measurement scale.
OK, am I professing that parents should show complete lack of interest in their child’s career… they should not be bothered even when their children go astray… Surely no! When I say over-parenting is dangerous for a child’s growth, I am not advocating under-parenting either! We need to provide the right learning environment, give enough guidance for our children to do the task themselves, and resist from interfering in their daily activities. A simple example would be to help your child to his/her school homework, but not do it yourself!
Madeline Levine, a clinician and the author of “Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success” says, “The central task of growing up is to develop a sense of self that is autonomous, confident and generally in accord with reality. If you treat your walking toddler as if she can’t walk, you diminish her confidence and distort reality. Ditto nightly reviews of homework, repetitive phone calls to “just check if you’re OK” and editing your child’s college application essay. Once your child is capable of doing something, congratulate yourself on a job well done and move on. Continued, unnecessary intervention makes your child feel bad about himself (if he’s young) or angry at you (if he’s a teenager).”
How do we allow children to learn skills by themselves and not push them to do it… simple, allow them to explore rather than teach through books. Eminent educationist Lalitha Appachu trains teachers by conducting workshops on how to make classroom learning fun for children. “A child is a learning machine. A child wants to do things, discover stuff and show it to us. But it’s always the other way round in a class. What do we do in a class? We just want to finish a book cover to cover. With that we also finish the child!”
If a child can excel in any career, how do we know if it has made the right choice… The best way is to allow children to explore all options such as dance, music, sports, science, arts etc. and then let them decide what career suits them the best. For instance, just because everyone else in the school learns to play cricket, that does not mean your child should not try its hand in chess. It is all about the right skills and the interest coming together.
This Children’s Day, let’s take a oath that we will allow our children to grow independently and have the right to choose their career.
Text & pics: Levine Lawrence
– Factfile –