Towards a Happy and a Fulfilling Childhood

Naveed Shafi Khaja

In our society children are considered as an inseparable part of individual and societal existence. A married couple without a child feels incomplete and emotionally distraught. Perhaps such may not be the level of longing for a child in the West given the fractured structure of their families and extremely individualistic lifestyles. However, all is not well with the way we parents deal with our children in terms of our methods of nurturing them. As a boy myself I have been panicked by the inconsistent approach of our parents in the nurturing of children. Some of my observations are:
We raise our children with enormous love, care and dedication even to the extent of forgetting our own health and agency as mothers and caregivers. Sacrifice is the word that denotes the character of our relation with children. In our care for the child we associate the universe of our happiness with the happiness of our children. However, in our extreme care for the children we hardly leave scope for our children to grow as ‘free individuals’. All that we want is to force them to grow as sons , daughters and as bahus(daughter-in-laws). Besides, we want them grow as doctors, engineers and officers. We want them emerge as powerful and the dominant. Our egoistic heads carry a truckload of expectations which we want our children to meet. We actually use our children as instruments to fulfil our suppressed and unfulfilled desires – those desires we failed to translate into reality by our own. We want children to make us feel proud either by their extreme obedience of our patronizing dictates or making their intimate decisions in accordance with our whims. This parenting is suffocating which mars the happiness of our children. It fails them to grow as independent, creative and well meaning individuals who fail to realize their true individuality and identity. Our faulty parenting fails them to realize self-esteem, individual agency and happiness that accrues from within. We don’t let them taste the meaning of life at their own terms; we don’t let them derive pleasure from their own personal exercise of agency and we don’t let them question the dominant schooling of our entrenched oppression in families. In this whole process we end up creating a frustrated lot of men and women who become victims of anomie due to poor parenting and faulty socialization.

In the fit of our parental love, we teach our children that we do every fair and foul deed for their material prosperity; we demonstrate the art of cheating and double-speak before our children on regular intervals; we master the process of lecturing on religion and morality and ignore when it’s time to practice. Such a dichotomy will create a generation of our children who become casualty of split personality and extreme hypocrisy. We destroy relationships and force children to grow in front of the idiot box or with a mobile phone. We don’t want our child to take pride in our indigenous ethos, language, culture and social roots and instead force him to reduce life to that of a dull technocrat.
From where would happiness come when we disturb social harmony, promote moral and material corruption, set different standards of ethics that suit our convenience? Happiness is a state of mind, it does not come by the mere consumption of power and riches. It comes out a harmony amongst various ingredients of individual and social life. I hope we discover the causes of unhappiness in children among our homes and in our parenting methods.

The author is a student at the Monarch Public School, Handwara. He can be reached at:  [email protected]

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