“Mama, I want an electronic plane to take to school.”
“Papa, I want to take a car to college”…
“Mama I want … Papa I want ………”
To all these demands, what would be your answer? “If I can afford it, why not,” is one parent’s answer while the other says, ”I will do anything for my child.” But a sensible parent would tackle the whole thing in a diplomatic manner.
Most parents, especially the affluent ones, think that the best way to demonstrate their love for the child is by loading him with gifts and indulging his whims. The child grows up with the belief that the world is his for the asking and ends up as a self centred egoist.
“But what can I do?” wails a mother whose teenage daughter does as she pleases. She buys clothes from expensive boutiques, loves treating her friends at five-star hotels and keeps late-nights, partying. The mother is helpless. So also Kishu’s parents. He is a bright 16-year-old but spends all his time tuning-in to his expensive music system, taking girlfriends on long drives and watching action films on videos.
“Kishu just refuses to listen to us,” complain his parents. Who is to be blamed? The fun-loving youngsters or their indulgent parents?
Unlike the profound – which-came-first-the-egg-or-the-chicken question, the answer to this is simple – parents are the culprits. There was a time when children grew up on their own! This was especially so in a family of four or five children. Whatever their economic status, parents did not pay attention to home-work, lunch box and the lot. Either there was an old faithful servant to attend to these or a widowed aunt who made it her business. The youngsters grew up to believe that you had to either eat what was made or go hungry; wear what was bought or go out in tatters, study or be punished in school. The responsibility was entirely on their young shoulders. There were no tantrums, no bickering over ‘this is mine’ or ‘I want that’.
The scenario is different now. With the small family becoming more fashionable, parents are getting too obsessed with their children’s affairs. “My munna likes cabbage but baby doesn’t like it, so I make another dish for her”… this is the way mothers ‘charm’ their children, under the misguided illusion of showing love.
They make it a habit to sit with the children while they do their homework, some pay exorbitant sums to ‘tuition teachers’ to do ‘proxy mothering’ at study time. This way, the child becomes totally dependent on an adult to help him with what he should train himself to do.
Kids these days are made too clothes-conscious for their good. This is again, thanks to the fancy ideas of parents. Bow ties, safari-suits and three-piece suits pr slinky gowns with knee length slits, elaborate lehengas and cholis… no doubt the mites look attractive but it encourages a preoccupation with physical adornment which will become their sole interest as they grow older.
How does one infuse the children with a sense of proportion? It begins with having it yourself! Don’t get carried away by your own capacity to inundate your child with goodies. Teach him the value of things and that means, the Price is of secondary importance.
Let the training begin from the cradle. If he cries out, check for his being wet or hungry. If neither, let him cry it out. It’s good for the lungs. Don’t indulge him by picking him up and wooing him. The little fellow is pretty smart and learns fast. Allow him to amuse himself by tying a few rattles or other eye-catching baubles and go about your work. You may keep talking to him just to let him know you are around but not too keen on being exploited!
Feeding time, to many mothers is an exasperating one. That’s because they indulge the little one’s palate more than they need to. He must be trained to eat everything. If he makes a fuss, leave him alone. He will, when he’s hungry, come back for it. Don’t let your tender feelings get the better of you. A hard-hearted mother does more for her child’s development than a sentiment alone. It goes without saying that the ‘heart should be hardened with love and not malice’!
As the child grows older he learns a valuable lesson – he can’t get away with anything. Now, gradually train him to realize that everything in life has to be earned. Encourage him to look after his things and do his own work. Like drying his towel after a bath or making his bed. Of course you have servants to do these, but you should not let your child depend too much on another adult. Offer incentives – like a special cake every Saturday if he has behaved himself the whole week. This enhances the child’s pleasure when he’s eating the cake for he has ‘earned’ it. Put a price on everything. “I’ll buy you the electronic train you wanted provided you wash your hands without being told before eating”. Washing his hands becomes a means to his goal. Even your punishments must be sensible ones. Beating a child only makes him stubborn. Cut out his perks as per the magnitude of his misbehavior. Let him forgo his playtime if he has not finished his homework – no tuck money if he has thrown a tantrum. All this may sound like military regimentation but a bit of discipline in the younger days, inculcates values which remain forever.
The trouble is parents themselves have no discipline! The more affluent they are, the more problems they have! The child is not something unique, to be petted and pampered and made much of. Treat him as an individual – not another status symbol! By all means love them, cuddle them, provide for them … but behind all this, keep in mind a warning – “Where parents do too much for their children, the children will not do much for themselves”.