Love your Child? Let them be

“See here, Jonathan – said his father, not unkindly. Winter isn’t far away. Boats will be few and the surface fish will be swimming deep. If you must study, then study food and how to get it. This flying business is all very well, but you can’t eat a glide, you know. Don’t forget that the reason you fly is to eat.” This excerpt, taken from Jonathan Livingston Seagull (By Richard Bach) conveys the same message that the films like Three Idiots, Tare Zameen Par and Tamasha show on screen. That imposing your ambitions on your children is not only unfair, it is also cruel. We all have watched and appreciated these films, many of us would have read the novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull. But how many of us actually understand and absorb the meaning?

Every year we get some students who take up the stream they are into because it’s their parents’ dream. And what is their own dream? Most of the times, they don’t know about it. They have never thought of it, because ever since they start thinking about career, they are bombarded with their parents’, grand-parents’ and society’s dreams, expectations and aspirations. If at all they have had a chance to wish a career which does not match their parents’ dreams, it’s condemned, rejected and the child is thrown into a vicious circle of guilt. They have never been given that space when they can think of anything apart from what their parents want. A doctor’s child will undoubtedly be a doctor, an engineer’s child an engineer. There is no other way. Who else will run the clinic/office/business? Have we ever asked the child if they want to run the clinic/office/business? Have we ever given them the space when they can think openly – without any pressure or guilt that they have options, that it’s after all their life and they have the right to decide?

If our wishes are imposed on our children, we are only using them. If we impose our aspirations and expect they have to live up to our expectations, we are only asking for a payback for our love, and that, I regret to say, is not love. That is business. Do not throw your child into this selfish trap of business, if you really love them. If you love them, let them be. Let them find their own strengths and weaknesses, and let them take their own life decisions. It is our duty and responsibility as parents, as human beings and as a society.