The parent-child bond brings forth the images of celestial love that makes life worth living, and sustains human life on planet Earth. The process of growing-up of a child and the changing role of parents, particularly during the initial years, have been the subjects of innumerable studies and research. Every parent aspires to give a better life to his children than his own and, within his means and comprehension, strives hard to make it a reality. Not everyone succeeds in this endeavour. Basic pre-requisites, like every parent being the role model, or parents spending time with children, are often ignored! Everyone is short on time. Migrant daily-wager has his compulsions, affluent businessmen or well-placed professionals have their heavy engagements.
Preparation for better life requires good quality education and skills in a good school and a congenial home environment to support the process of growing up and acquisition of life skills and family values. Ironically, children in ill-maintained public-funded schools are left to fend for themselves, while those in expensive private schools are made to go through a heavily-stressed schedule that urges them to wake up at 5 am and sleep at 10 pm! In the afternoon, its homework, preparation for the CCE test, projects work, followed by swimming, painting, dance classes, table tennis, and what not! Exhausted parents have little energy left to spend time with their kids.
The days of spending time in a joint family or with grandparents are long over. Grandmother’s fairy tales that ignited imagination are long left behind. If children spend time with elderly in the family, their chances of nurturing imagination are enhanced. When parents have free time to spend with children, this process is augmented and also supplemented. As partners, they could also help develop the creative talents that children are naturally blessed with. Einstein once said that children need parental “presence far more than their presents”. He also said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” Absence of regular intense personal interaction with near and dear ones just cannot be compensated with heavy birthday bash, or fulfilment of demands for new gadgets.
As children grow up in years, they do realise the complexity of the conditions that await them in their adulthood. The anxiety is accentuated manifold by parents who are apparently concerned about their future. Heavy competition and a corrupt system, in which nothing moves without greasing the palms, await children. Highly educated parents often thrust their aspirations on their children; make them study subjects and streams against their liking. Imagine a child interested in music being force-sent to Kota Coaching to compete for IIT! Huge depression, loss of personality and talent are the obvious consequences.
What parents, and also teachers, often ignore is, for a child, everything is a new discovery that fuels his/her imagination for more, and in the process enhances their self-esteem and thus nurtures ‘ignited minds’! It applies equally well to the preparation of a project on energy, or writing a beautiful poem in the language of his liking! Teachers have a huge acculturating role—generating awareness of the basics of child psychology among parents. It would help parental love manifest in the right direction. To nurture creativity, assistance in the process of discovery and exploration and enhancement of self-confidence are all part of the preparatory process to adulthood and self-dependence. The journey of intense love and affection becomes rewarding when parents let their child take their own decisions. Parents give kids values and help them adapt behavioural patterns that impact their overall personality development. This is best achieved when parents realise their ‘iconic’ role; their actions and behaviour being watched by the child, all the time.
J S Rajput
Former director of the NCERT