Dr Jyotsna Bhattacharjee
We often hear of growing students' indiscipline in the whole country, including our own state. Some of them have taken to drugs and other antisocial activities. Frequently we hear of criminal activities perpetrated by students. Drug menace has spread out over the entire country like an infectious disease. With their wrong activities the young people have brought much sufferings not only to their parents, but to themselves as well. They are following a ruinous path to disaster.
Parents complain against their children, teachers complain against their students, elders complain against the youngsters. In earlier times children used to venerate their parents. Their word was divine command to the offsprings. They could not even dream of disobeying their parents. But today it is no longer so. For modern children it is not a sin to go against the wishes of their parents. For most of the adult children parents are outdated and their talks are silly and entirely valueless. The gap between parents and children is widening. This is what is termed as generation gap. To bridge the gap some kind of mutual understanding between parents and children is necessary.
Parents should realize that they should respect the views of their children, when they are sufficiently grown up to make their own decisions. Mothers cannot possibly keep their children tied to their apron strings for long. Children too should understand that parents want only their success and happiness. Parents want only good of their children. If the modern children think that their parents are domineering and want to impose their will on them, they should not take umbrage at that. There is no problem which cannot be solved amicably with frank discussions. After all, that is their internal matter. Parents love their children despite all their faults. Children also should give due respect and consideration to their parents. At least they should try to make the last phase of life of their parents happy, and I think, it is their solemn duty.
Every child is born with some natural aptitudes and sufficient mental prowess. It is the responsibility of the parents to help in bringing out and developing the inherent talent of their children. They should make every possible effort to make their children self-sufficient and self-confident. They should allow the child to put one step in front of the other without pointing out that they may fall into a puddle. Children should be allowed to learn by the method of trial and error. Let them make mistakes. They would learn to tread the right path only through mistakes. The children must not be wrapped in cotton wool. They must face the rough-and-tumble of life boldly and learn to overcome them by themselves.
Often we find young people drifting away like a rudderless boat. What is the root of this problem? And what is the solution? Inferiority complex and feeling of insecurity are the primary impediments of personality development. There are many reasons for these obstructing factors. Sometimes young people are conscious of their deficiencies and instead of trying to overcome them, they behave in an atrocious way to bolster their ego. Their minds work in a negative way and they try to show the world that they do not care regarding what others say. These misguided youths behave in such offensive way that the elders have to look at them with aversion. Their minds work in a negative way and they try to show off to attract attention as well as to show the world that they do not care for anybody’s approval or disapproval.
We can look with distaste at these symbols of rebellion—usually clothes, hair style and outrageous behaviour. But if we see all this for what it is—the outward expressions of youth’s natural desire to be different, to be independent, then perhaps we would not be so very shocked. We often hear of generation gap. Parents grumble that they have done so much for the children, yet they never show the slightest respect to the parents. Though it is difficult to accept such rude behaviour placidly, yet we must admit that times have changed. The wish of parents is no longer regarded as divine command. The views of parents are no longer regarded as gospel truth by their children.
Perhaps parents are equally, if not more, responsible for the behaviour of the young people. It is hard for the loving and caring parents to accept calmly any misbehaviour or defect in their children. But it is also very true that they greatly hinder the development of personality in their children. Sometimes they unwittingly compare their child with a more brilliant ones, or perhaps they might narrate their own achievements and this saps the confidence of their child. The child becomes ashamed of his or her poor performance and gets inferiority complex developed in him/her. It becomes disastrous for his mental development. He/she thinks himself to be a failure and to overcome this feeling he/she acts in such disagreeable way so as to shock everybody and gets a kind of perverse pleasure. In this way he also takes revenge on his parents for their poor estimate of him.
In most of the cases we find that parents themselves put obstructions in the personality development of their children by over-protection and constant nagging. They impose their will on their children, thereby forgetting that their child is an independent person with a will of his/her own. I have seen parents deciding as to what they have planned for their children, as though the children do not have any mind of their own. Some of the parents even do the homework for their children. So apparently the parents do the school work of their children, which were the tasks given by the teachers to the students. Strangely enough, the parents do not realize that by doing the work of the children they are destroying their intelligence and confidence. Because of the interference of the parents, the children become too much dependent on their parents, and consequently lose their self-confidence.
Parents naturally want the best for their children, but they must not be over-protective, which hinders the mental progress of the child. The child should be helped by the parents to make his own decision, so that he/she can develop self-confidence. The children should be consulted regarding their choice of the future career. Of course, when they are young, the parents should keep an eye on them, but not with an iron rod and ruthless disposition. Young children may be guided by wise parents, but they must not be pushed too hard. Wealthy parents overwhelm the child with expensive gifts, thereby destroying his/her sense of economy and constructive tendency.
Children are not clay models— they have unique features and diverse dispositions, which would develop only under wise guidance by their parents. For personality development and a successful future, what are needed are wise guidance, a loving home and a little poverty. That is, the children should not be allowed to demand whatever they want. They must learn that the parents cannot afford to fulfill all their demands. Even affluent parents should teach their children the importance of economy. They should also know the implication of poverty.
Children are a vibrant part of the family—they are vociferous independent individuals. I believe that the children are of vastly different inclinations and capabilities. They should not be treated as rubber stamp of their parents—rather they should be accorded respect and consideration, though of course the observation of certain rules have to be insisted upon. Children should be given sufficient scope for their development. It does need enough patience and tolerance on the part of the parents.
Freedom to pursue own interest should be allowed in case of each child. One may be a future intellectual, who wants no company other than his own looks; another might be a would-be athlete, whose ambition is to shine in sports. Another one might be interested in painting and some might want to excel in music. The possibilities are endless and children should be allowed to pursue their own choice. Because the father is a doctor, he may want his son also to take up medical profession. If his son does not want to follow his father’s profession, he should not be labelled as a misfit. After all, it is his life- and he has a right to follow his own chosen career. If he gets thwarted, then there is every chance of his becoming frustrated and so behave in a way which might be ruinous to his future and personality development.
I think that the primary duty of the parents is to encourage the child to be self-dependent. They should be allowed to promote their self-confidence. Unless the child has self-confidence, he would never be able to be successful in life. In some affluent families it can be seen that the children are not supposed to do any work. There are servants to serve them and the pampered brats of the wealthy families behave like monarchs of all they survey. I think the children should not be allowed to develop a bloated ego. They should learn that self-help is the best help and God helps only those who help themselves. Circumstances may change and children should be trained in such a way that they can face any situation, good or bad, without hesitation. After all, parents may not be always there to protect their children from any untoward circumstances. So it is very important to build up positive thinking in children.
Wise parents never go criticizing their children. Parents may be disappointed if the child has not done as well as the neighbour’s son. But criticism is suicidal and it will only make the child rebellious. To overcome frustration and the feeling of incompetence they might take to drugs, alcoholism and other evil ways. They may also indulge in antisocial activities to prove their worth in a negative way. In this way perhaps they take their revenge on their parents, whom they consider to be unfeeling. We should note that we are not above criticism. Why should we think that own way is the only right one, which cannot be improved upon by anything new? Parents talk as if they know everything, which naturally the children resent.
Only loving and wise parents can help their children in personality development. If the child does something wrong, then of course he should be corrected, but with tenderness and love. They should know that whatever they do, parents love them. Parents should enforce discipline in their children from an early age. They should also be taught the value of morality-but by example and not by precept. Only a person, who leads a moral life can teach morality to others. If the father is dishonest, then how can he advise his son to be honest? If the children are given lessons on morality, then only they would become worthy citizens of the country in future.
In early stage of life a child does need parents' guidance. But when he grows up, he develops a will of his own. Parents should not think that they know the best. Children must learn to think in a positive way. To encourage positive thinking children should be encouraged to follow their own convictions. They must have some ambition. Let them choose their own career without interference. That will keep them busy and happy. If a young person’s will is frustrated, he may discard positive activities due to depression. All wrong ideas come to an inactive brain, because he wants to do something, whatever that might be. So I believe that they should be given sufficient stimulus to keep his minds busy in a positive way.
Some of the TV presentations are educative and very beneficial to children. But unfortunately in many of these homes I have noticed children and adults glued to the TV screen, enjoying feature films as some commercials. The shows on crimes may have a very harmful effect on the impressionable tender minds of the children. I think these shows may give some wrong idea to some immature viewers.
I think that it is important to keep the children busy with some constructive work. If they have nothing worthwhile to do, they may indulge in any kind of devilry. We should remember that today’s children are tomorrow’s nation builders. The country needs them. In building up the personality of the child, the contribution of parents is enormous. Positive thinking is essential in the personality development of the children.