It was after many days that I came to know the true story behind Anusha’s breakdown. Anusha’s dad was a famous doctor. Her parents were constantly putting pressure on her to make her a doctor. As they were very sure she was brilliant, they had made up their minds that she should be a doctor. They made her study day and night. The notes I had seen her make from her friends answer papers were actually demanded by her mother. Her competitive parents were constant comparing her to her peers and shaming her even when she lost a few marks. Even her dance performances were viewed competitively as improving her admission file!
A compelling need to excel and the deep seated fear of getting a lower percentage had crippled Anusha’s morale and self esteem. When she felt she had not performed to the very high bar set for her, her world crumbled. She felt her parents would not accept her failure and sunk in to a deep sorrow..causing her breakdown. How could she seek help then from the family who considered her worth while only if she could make it as a doctor?
Post the exam results, she had apparently rebelled completely. After that fateful exam night, when apparently had even suicidal thoughts, she had decided she could not take this anymore. Without consulting anyone, she had gone and paid fees for Arts stream.
While it took a long time for her parents to accept that they themselves had pushed Anusha to the brink, I would still think they were lucky. Anusha had completed her examinations and survived. She had taken a different path and succeeded on her own.
But, many times other children might not be so lucky. In a number of cases, the children study hard and even join medical colleges or IIT only due to the parental pressure. Tutuions for the classes that coach for these exams start from as early as Grade 6. How many years of childhood are sacrificed for his future?
Most suicides are a result of parental pressure and sky high expectations, with little regard for the child’s ability or interests. These young children are not able to cope up with the high pressures of being a disappointment in their own parent’s eyes.
Who is responsible for this sheer ludicrousness? Is it only the parent’s mistake to be over ambitious about their children? Is it the mistake of the colleges to keep such a high standard that so much external coaching is required?
My request to all you parents is……
- Don’t force your children to achieve what you wanted to become or your dreams of what you want them to be. Guide them. But seek to see their own dreams, whatever they have a talent for and enjoy doing.
- While you push the merits of hard work and excellence, remember to teach your child to accept failure without losing heart. It is your reaction that makes all the difference. If you child studied day and night and came back with 96/100, celebrate the effort that made her get there…not the 96 marks..and certainly don’t ask her where she lost the 4 marks immediately!
- Check where his aptitude lies. Professional Counsellors are now available and you can take the help of them to test their aptitudes. Then discuss and lay open the possible paths for your kids..not just one, so he always remembers there is hope.
- With the TV channels coming down with so many live shows parents are now even sending their five year old child for acting, dancing or singing because they had that dream of becoming a star some time! Any competition in school level or anywhere as long as it is one time competition, it is good. But this type of six long months of live show, dragging on and on, where this tiny children are forced to practise 14 to 16 hours a day —do you think if it is truly needed? Do you think that your child’s future as a star is secure after this competition or are you throwing your kid in a fast forward adult world where he has to constantly fight for his space in the rat race?.
- While obvious, truly understand that your child’s happiness and his health should be your priority over academic success at all levels. Let them enjoy their childhood and you relive the simple pleasures of paper planes and pen fights and running through the grass through them.
- Yes, give them the best opportunity and guide them and nudge them at every stage…but stand beside them like rock, holding their hand no matter what… always..