Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, March 17, 2005




Here's a typical conversation between a group of parents when they get together:

Mother#1: I am so worried about my son, his O levels are in a month and all he does is laze around the whole time.
Mother#2: Lazing around-that's better than a son who is constantly bunking classes, and getting himself in ridiculous car races, it's like I can never stop worrying about what's next.
Father#1: Please I know your sons, at least at the end of the day they manage to get decent grades, even after getting a conditional promotion last year, mine just doesn't want to study...
Mother#3: I'm still taken aback by what my daughter's class-teacher told me, MY DAUGHTER got caught cheating in a MID TERM EXAM! They said that if it had been a different teacher she would have been directly expelled, but this one didn't go to the authorities. How can I ever show my face in school again?
Father#2: I know how you feel, my daughter got suspended from school for 2 weeks because she got into a fistfight and managed injure another classmate. I would expect this from a son, but the fact that Amaaira could do this is too much to take!
Mother#4: All my children are addicted to this 'band' craze. All they do is sit, around in the roof, doing god knows what and singing, the people coming into my house...I just DO NOT LIKE!
Mother#5: That's right, sometimes I feel like throwing that guitar into the lake.
Mother#6: You are worrying about all these miniscule things, my son's new girlfriend is that smuggler cum politician cum thief X's daughter, and they seem pretty serious, I can't sleep at night thinking about how insulting this is!
Father#3: All of you are worried about cigarettes, studies, I recently found a bag of 'substances' under Imran's bed. I had a talk with him, but the attitude really hurt me.
Mother#7: Allah, you won't believe it, last New Year's Eve, I found a bottle in Shafkat's room! That was just wrong. How on earth do they get hold of such things?
Mother#8: Accha, How do you think I can get my son a bit out of sports? If it's not tennis, then its Basketball, or football...he just doesn't understand that there are more important things in life.

By Chowdhury Rashaam Raiayan

And so it continues. It's like they go on a marathon letting the whole world know our short-comings. Who will get the trophy for having the worst-possible-messed-up child? Why do parents parade all our bad deeds amongst their friend group or chachas and khalas and mamas? I still don't understand the inner satisfaction they derive out of belittling us in public.

I guess it's our culture that makes it a normal thing to say only bad things about our children. Besides, we do hate those over-conceited parents who continuously brag about their children's successes: "My son got into Princeton, Faisal got a new job, Shaila makes me so happy all the time, she's started a new..."

I have come to the conclusion that some parents are just never happy. In class 1 when you flunked, they were upset about that, after that you manage to get to the middle of the class, that's still not good enough, 'if only you worked a bit harder you could be first'. Then when you are 'first' (i.e.: all As in your Os), you have to go to Harvard or some elite College, you don't get into the college of your (their?) dreams and its like their life comes crashing down for some time.

They made you take lessons in Rabindro Sangeet or the tabla all throughout your life, (which you are grateful for) but then you realize you want to play the guitar or drums, what happens? They are not happy! So what do they do? Continuously give you their unwarranted opinions about music...Even after you are old, happily married, and successful they find other stuff to put you off, like 'You don't know how to take care of your children!" But that's another story.

So here is how it works, parents think that by pointing out their children's mistakes in public, it will catalyze their transformation to the path of 'goodness'.

What it actually does is stabs the person's self-esteem. It makes him/her feel inadequate and once that 'I am a failure' notion kicks in it's pretty hard to get rid of. Once s/he thinks 'I'm not good enough anyway so why bother trying to be better: that is, something I'm not', they enter the path of greater destruction. Like experimenting with drugs, cigarettes, a bit of alcohol, no studying etc because he feels like it is his job to live up to the 'bad' image that he has been given.

Hey, I'm no expert on parenting, but common sense says, it's easier to deal with those wild ones with some quality time, non-criticizing talks and providing incentives to be better. You can't just expect them to turn over a new leaf in a short span of time. Besides, when parents are continuously judgemental, children pick up on this habit and in the future they themselves become overly critical. The same old 'he is not good enough, she comes from an inferior background' kind of mentality kicks in when they're interacting with the outside world. In the long run this can have an extremely negative impact: (in the form of not having any friends because none of them are apparently not good enough')

Here's the thing: we are children, we are bound to make mistakes. And parents will be parents, I guess they would always want what is best for us. You know when in our teens, we explore life, and find out our own way the difference between wrong and right (even if it is the hard way). So our parents shouldn't parade around our mistakes because with time we ourselves understand them and feel ashamed of it.

In conclusion, I would like to request all parents (and those of us who will end up as parents in a few years) to stop worrying so much. Parent-offspring relationships should be based on mutual respect. So don't go off blabbing about the things we get wrong along the way, because in 5 years down the line, it's insulting to be remembered as the boy with drug problems, or the girl who cheated in her exams...



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