By Dr Pragya Mathur Kumar :
Awkward as it may sound, this question is meant for all parents who have high expectations from their children. We constantly needle the kids with inputs that compare them to their peers, that put them on the defensive and very often, send a message “you’re not making us proud”. The behaviour and academic performance of kids is in the limelight at all times. In just about every aspect of their life, they feel the heat. At school, the PTM is a test by fire. On the way home from a meeting with teachers at school, most parents bombard kids with lectures that are not welcome at that point of time. Here’s the thing. How often do we ask ourselves: Are the kids proud of us? Do we assume we are in a position to preach even though we really don’t practice the “good behaviour”?
Are we endowed with qualities worthy of a parent? Do we have habits that worth emulating? It is time to take a good look in the mirror. Reflect on the kind of parent we are. Are we lying and expecting kids to be truthful? Are we gossiping and expecting kids to avoid small talk? Are we rude, impolite, inconsiderate but expecting “good manners” from our kids? Do we raise our voice and get angry but expect kids to control their emotions? Are we hiding behind trees and smoking, expecting the kids not to indulge in drugs? Are we physically aggressive when being assertive is required?
Do we play games on the mobile and surf the net endlessly but expect self-discipline from our kids? There is a common lament. “The kids don’t listen to us anymore.” Well, this is no surprise. The kids are surely learning from us. The difference is: they do what they see us doing, not what we tell them to do. So you will see the “rude parent” receiving complaints of bad behaviour of the kids at school, the traffic challan being issued to youngsters whose parents violate traffic rules as a habit: there is indeed a clear pattern. The kids learn, what they see.
They do, what they see the parent doing. This may not always be the case but most often, it is. Thus, the need to ask the uncomfortable question: Are the kids proud of their parents or are they embarrassed? Foul language usually travels in the family. The kids pick it up and use it freely because they grow up believing it’s ok. Of course, some pick it up from their peers but their “internal conditioning” always plays a part in preventing rampant use of the same.
When we begin to feel the need to change, the first step is through. Motivation and will power to unfreeze, change and refreeze the behaviour in question make it possible to develop a more desirable mode of operation. There really is no “problem child”. There is an environment that is not conducive for healthy growth and all round development. The people around the child, the physical and emotional environment have a great impact. Course correction can begin when parents begin to ask themselves: Am I worthy of their pride or do I need to change something?
Happy, healthy and socially well functioning adults make good role models for their kids. So the next time round you see an aggressive kid mouthing foul language, look beyond. Thankfully, there is a growing awareness of the need for positive parenting among parents. Much of the social turmoil we see has deep roots and originates in the four walls of homes where there is violence, lack of trust, lack of responsibility and poorly knit family structure. Just like charity, good citizenship begins at home too. Time for a reality check… Are your kids proud of you? Discover the truth and do what needs to be done. They’ll make the world a better place if we make the home a better place for them. (The author is Psychologist & Trainer at Arunima Ankuran)