Awkward parenting

Published January 27, 2022

THE increasingly social and economic parameters make parents more anxious than their children. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the academic competition, once only among students racing to achieve the highest scores, has become an absurd duel between the students and their demanding parents.

In lower middle class families, the plague of comparison begins with the birth of a child. Parents start comparing their children with others and become dissatisfied when someone else’s child is doing better than theirs. The competition gets unbridled as their children enter practical life and intend to appear in competitive exams in pursuit of better jobs and a decent livelihood.

All parents expect their children to outperform their respective peers, especially those in the family circle. And it goes without saying that these socially constructed expectations limit a child’s relative freedom and individuality. In doing so, parents forget that their heightened expectations make their children unable to achieve the desired results and they begin to feel like a burden on their families. They embark on this inexorable voyage of hopes with the intention of paying back their parents, which only adds to the affliction.

Some parents go too far and become so controlling that they see their children as their insurance policy. They believe — and also make their children believe — that because they have invested so much throughout the child’s educational journey, they must receive their share of the output with interest by the end of their studies, forgetting that children are already facing looming challenges of practical life at that stage.

Meanwhile, the unsupportive education system adds to children’s woes and they have a rude awakening from a fantasy world to the harsh reality that mere graduation is not a free pass to economic prosperity. As a result, children begin to see their distorted reflection through the lens of society, which idolises those who make immediate success stories of themselves right after graduation.

In this toxic scenario, only parents can comfort their children and inculcate a sense of security in them by their unconditional love and affection. They should encourage the perception that every child takes their own time to make their mark.

Therefore, a pyrrhic victory should not be meted out to children on the pretext of productivity that costs them their mental peace and happiness. On the contrary, they should be brought up with a sense of security that allows them to look ahead without fear of failure or obsession with success.

They should be given every opportunity to discover the full spectrum of their human potential and be allowed to learn to survive in the face of the harsh realities of life.

Rakhshanda Abbas
Gilgit

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2022

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