My blog has moved!
You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, please visit:

Thursday, 3 February 2011

My Child Should be...

[The following article was published in Deccan Herald on February 3, 2011]

POSITIVE PARENTING Children need to find their own purpose and create their own path. Parents should merely support them in this process of searching for their self, writes Maullika Sharma
In my counselling practice, and in the various workshops I conduct on different aspects of parenting, I often meet parents who have a clearly mapped out future path for their children — every milestone documented (or at least etched in their mind). Their children must follow that path if they are to have a happy and successful future (and therefore, life).

However, children are here in the world, to find their own purpose and create their own path, and then to go down that path with zeal, enthusiasm and drive. Our role as parents is to merely support them in this process of their search for their self and their path. And we do this best by giving them the roots to grow and the wings to fly.  According to Brian Tracy, an American TV Host, “If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.”

As enlightened parents we need to know that our children come into our lives to fulfill their own purpose. They are not here to fulfill our purpose. They are not here to give us a sense of validation. They are not here to carry on our family name or business, to achieve our unfulfilled dreams and aspirations, to provide an insurance policy for our old age, or to bring glory to us. They are not here to fulfill our dreams, or think our thoughts, or become someone we think they should be. They are not our family “trophies” — to bring fame and glory to our family name. They are here to walk their own path.

So if you have any such expectations, it is imperative that you open up the windows of your mind and let the expectations go — not only because they are not based on any reality, but also because they can really make the environment toxic for your child.

There is a controversy raging in the Western press these days about the Chinese style of parenting, vs, the American style. The Chinese style is more regimented, disciplinarian and loaded with the highest expectations of their children in the path defined by their parents. Chinese children, for example, are not allowed to attend a sleepover; have a play date; be in a school play; complain about not being in a school play; watch TV or play computer games; choose their own extracurricular activities; get any grade less than an A; not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama; play any instrument other than the piano or violin; not play the piano or violin ( The American style, on the other hand, gives more space to a child's individual needs, interests, desires, aspirations, feelings, self-esteem, etc. While it is correct to say that the general level of academic performance of the Chinese children is higher, and therefore, we may conclude that the Chinese style is more effective in the long run, I believe that the Chinese system produces performers, not composers.

A quick Google search in the Classical Composers database threw up just 20 ‘Chinese’ composers but several pages of American composers. A question for us to think about is do we want our children to be performers (i.e. replicators, followers, doers, executers) of pre-written pieces, or do we want our children to be composers (leaders, designers, inventors, creators) of pieces that they are writing. While the Industrial Age attached a premium to diligence, execution, perfection, towing the line and other such qualities, the knowledge age that we are now living in (and that our children will definitely live in) attaches a premium to creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, the ability to learn on the job, the ability to problem solve, the ability to be a team leader, and a team player (in formal and informal team structures), the ability to communicate our ideas and opinions, the ‘can do’ attitude, the ability to be self-motivated and the ability to learn from failures, to name just a few. None of these get tested by our current system of examinations, and none of these qualities get developed by our current system of education.

So if you expect your child to get a hundred per cent, and she lives up to your expectation, she may still not be a success in life, and in the work place. Do you want her to succeed in her exams, or do you want her to succeed in life? It is a decision you may need to take as a parent, because the paths to both may be completely different.

Does that mean that parents should not have any expectations. No, far from it. Children are known to try and live up to parental expectations, and therefore, having some expectations will spur them on to push themselves to achieve greater heights. It will push them to get out of their comfort zone and try out new things. All it means is that the expectations should not be about marks and performance.

Expectations should be about behaviour, not performance. Expectations should about your child's putting in their best effort; about learning; about living by values that you help your child believe in; about your child pushing the boundaries and limits of his or her capabilities; about being socially well-adjusted; about believing in themselves; about having dreams and aspirations; to mention just some of the few drivers for excellence in today's world.

So what CAN we give our children? Our knowledge and belief of who they really are! And an honest, authentic, safe and secure environment where they can grow, without fear of non-acceptance.
And, what can we expect as parents? In the words of Sharon Goodman, we should expect nothing less than “a magnificent adventure as we guide our children to know who they really are!”

No comments:

Post a Comment