Amrita was slightly nervous for her son Nik’s first parent teacher’s meeting at school. It wouldn’t have been too much of a worry if she had not known that her son was a hyperactive and aggressive child. She often wondered why her 4 year old son was so restless. Yet, nothing had prepared her for the feedback she received at the school from Nik’s class teacher.
‘We don’t know what comes over your son. He is extremely aggressive with other kids. Although we do understand that some kids are physical more active than the others, yet it is not appreciated. We try and talk to him, but he is extremely unyielding’, said Nik’s class supervisor.
Amrita felt her world spinning around her. She did have a difficult time managing Nik at home too. He would jump around on the sofa, throw things and physically charge at other kids if they disturbed him in any manner. Although she had been concerned earlier, but she had not taken Nik’s behavior too seriously, attributing his behavior to young age and an innate quality of a physically hyper energised kid. But such a feedback from school made the ground beneath her ground slip.
She was trying to do her best while juggling her various roles as a working mom. She spent most of her time, once back home with Nik and tried to facilitate his learning as much as possible. There were days when she felt overwhelmed with the fast pace of her life with no time for herself. Yet she was trying that Nik not suffer from the aftermaths of her hassled state of mind. But now after the meeting with his Class supervisor she realized that she had failed miserably. Nik was turning out to be the naughty tantrum throwing boy that she had had always despised and feared.
Where have I gone wrong with his upbringing?, thought Amrita. As a mother who was constantly suffering from the guilt of leaving his child back to go to work, her demons began to dig at her conscience once again. Shall I give up my job and spend more time with Nik? May be then things will change for better. Amrita went around her day at work with numerous thoughts about why and how of Nik’s feedback from school.
When she shared the reason for her distraction with her a colleague mother during lunch, the mother of two girls approaching their teens told her that everything will be ok and that Amrita must counsel his son and continue to support him while he deals his ever changing environment during his growing years. Amrita smiled back at the encouragement, but did not really feel any kind of relief from within. She reached home in the same volatile state of mind and spent her time with Nik. She was contemplating if she should try talking to her 4 year old, but wasn’t sure how much could she drive home the point she wished to make with him. So she decided against it and thought that she must wait to have a conversation with her husband before proceeding on a course of action.
Throughout the evening, her mother-in-law Radhaji observed Amrita’s distraction. She knew something from Nik’s parent teacher’s meeting was bothering her, but did not ask her anything about it in Nik’s presence. She made a mental note to brace up the topic once Nik was off to bed. Unfortunately for her, she had to leave to meet an ailing neighbor while Amrita retired to put Nik to sleep.
Once Nik was fast asleep, Amrita settled on the sofa to have her daily dose of screen time. While surfing through the channels, she came across a new program on a news channel that was meant to be a helpline for parents. The host was accompanied by a child psychologist and they were in a conversation when Amrita stumbled upon the channel. The words ‘parenting philosophies’ caught her attention and she decided to watch the show.
TV Anchor: So Dr. Tripathi, how do you think that parenting is a larger challenge for the new generation parents?
Dr. Tripathi: Before I answer your question, I must give you some background to how like everything, parenting too has evolved over decades and generations.
TV Anchor: Oh! You mean to say that parenting methods are also evolving like technology?
Dr. Tripathi: Absolutely! The Genration Y parents are of the view that parenting in 21st century is much more complicated than that when they were kids themselves. The simple reason for this is the coming together of the world due to technology. Yet, that’s besides the point. I am talking from the different perspective about how parent attitude on issues other than parenting too is making a huge impact on the upbringing of the kids.
TV Anchor: I must request you to elaborate. I am curious due to your choice of words.
Dr. Tripathi: Ok let me pose a simple question to you. Did your father discuss things concerning your life while you were growing up?
TV Anchor: Uhmm! Sorry mom-dad, but I have to answer this honestly. Not really doctor, I had extremely authoritative parents, who believed in one way communication.
Dr. Tripathi (smiling): Yes! We call it the Instructional Ideology of parenting. This was a very common method of parenting a couple of decades back. Parents passed out instructions to their kids, and the kids followed them without questioning too much. Ofcourse I am removing the outliers, but this was a prevalent trend. But tell me, did you feel good about it?
TV Anchor: Not really! I would see my friends’ parents, who were so friendly with their kids. They would freely talk and discuss issues of mutual interest and even have a reasonable discussion on topics of conflict to arrive at an amiable solution. Looking at the display of rationality from these parents, I often felt that my parents were from stone age.
Dr. Tripathi: I would say that your parents’ friends were practicing the interactional approach of parenting, where they encouraged their kids to talk about their life and gave enough space to the kids to have a difference of opinion and try and find an amicable solution. They even shared their fears and shortcomings in their thought process with their kids. This made the kids slightly more understanding and considerate of their family circumstances and made the parent child bond stronger. You would agree with me if I said that this interactional approach of parenting had its own shortcomings in terms of bringing some embarrassing and awkward discussions to the dinner table.
TV Anchor (smirking): I remember, once my younger brother broached up the subject of menstruation among girls infront of my father. I remember that he was quite uncomfortable, yet he tried to take forward the discussion in the most rational way possible.
Dr. Tripathi: Now coming to the current generation parents and the evolution of parenting that I mentioned earlier. The present day kids are more evolved than you or I ever were. Also they have exposure to so much media that their minds are much more sensitive. They pick up by intuition what is going around them and assimilate it within them.
TV Anchor: You mean to say that there are things beyond the words said out loud or prominent actions performed infront of them that impact their personalities?
Dr. Tripathi: Yes. You’ve got me right. The present generation kids absorb every little display of emotion you make in their presence and form their opinion of the environment around them. It strongly impacts their sub-conscious mind and shapes their attitude and behavior. For example: In our times it was a well know adage that what goes around comes around. Thus, people tried to keep their actions clean. But with today’s generation, its not just the actions that need to be clean, but the thoughts too need to be in sync with the actions. Today’s kids are smart enough to pick up contradicting vibrations. So, I like to say that today’s parenting involves parenting by intuition.
Something snapped inside Amrita as she heard what the child psychologist on the television just said. The conversation on the show blurred as she went on an introspection trip. She realized that with too much on her plate with the job, kid and a large family to cater to, she was herself always over-whelmed and on the verge of break-down for no specific reason. A curt reply to her husband, a sarcastic response to her mother-in-law, a snapping comment to her brother-in-laws joke or over reaction to the domestic help for smallest of mistake. These were all indicative of how she was always walking on the thin rope. After listening to what the doctor on the tv show had to say about this ‘Intuitional’ parenting, that even if she was careful about not having Nik witness to her quipping, he probably was picking all her vibrations and was slowly transforming into the overwhelmed kid her class supervisor was talking about ealier during the day. When she resumed the chat show on TV she inferred that the solution was to transcend to a more peaceful state of mind. And the simplest way to do it was to go the spiritual way. As individuals we might not be religious, but spirituality was different from religion. And probably meditation was the simplest way to raise one’s vibration and simplify one’s life. Further testimonials by various parents who had gone the spiriatual way reinstated what the doc had just said.
Amrita sighed as she realized that the program was a promotional chat by a specific spiritual organization trying to promote their meditation technique for parents to improve the relationship between their kids. She waved her hand at the realization she was almost taken for a ride by some doctor who had been paid to say what he said. But later that night when she went to bed, the talk by the child psychologist and her own reaction to what he had proposed reverberated in her mind and she wondered if she really needed to clear her mind and soul of the complicated thought forms for her and Nik’s mental well-being.