Have You Set The Right Benchmark For Your Child?

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Can you empower your children and believe in their ability, asks educationist Fatima Agarkar

When engaging with parents across the country, be it metros or smaller towns, it is fascinating to note that the expectations remain fairly consistent in what parents desire of their children. Everyone wants their children to be all-rounders, gifted orators, sensitive and intelligent human beings, and do or become everything that can be possibly achieved. And to be fair to parents, the assumption is that a lot of sacrifices have been made, support given and/or facilities provided to make sure the expectations are fulfilled.

If life would be this simple, for every input, a desired output produced, we would be in possession of a god-like quality as adults, but the reality is that it does not quite pan out like that for all of us.

I have spent hours with leading developmental pediatricians, experienced educators and progressive and well-meaning parents. It all comes down to ‘our’ expectations of the children devoid of their abilities or desires.

Perhaps at times, even the most progressive parents in a bid to protect their children from failure deny them opportunities to experiment using ‘personal experience and wisdom’ as their winning argument.

We simply set benchmarks so high, then deny the children the path of self-learning and eventually make them so dependent on our dreams and not their own, which makes ‘living up to them’ a task and when something is achieved by force and lack of passion, its outcome most likely will fail expectations.

Quite frankly that remains some sort of legacy that gets handed down each generation! Instead of allowing them to work out ‘cause and effect’, instead of allowing them to set their own benchmarks, instead of allowing them independence, our well-meaning nature makes us ‘plan’ for them and ‘control’ their instincts so much so that we almost make it impossible to achieve these goals that we set for them.

My little one, ever since he held a bat in his hand was assumed to become a cricketer because his father represented the country at the national level. Because he showed a natural flair, the entire family was heralding an era of yet another cricketer in the midst till he ditched his bat for football shoes and simply told us, “It is assumed that I want to play cricket and make it a career, and I simply want to play ball!”

Were we disappointed? Sure, because we saw some talent that wasn’t optimized but quickly braced ourselves to the reality that his passion and interest were so different.

Just the other day, this parent driven to tears shared that she was a perfect role model to her son, committed to spending quality time with the child, regulated screen time, organizing book clubs and sports classes and social awareness projects etc. yet the child was socially awkward and unable to mingle despite her best efforts. The child could not match his mother’s expectations of being articulate, courteous, gracious, intelligent, sporty, sensitive. He is six years old; how can he?

So let’s give our kids a break and recognize that life for them follows a bell curve with growth spurts and lessons to be learnt, and in that journey they will emerge with their own dreams and set their own expectations.

I remain in awe of this parent whose child achieved the highest honour in the undergraduate program to be chased by Ivy League colleges for an admission to pursue higher studies. As parents, they insisted the child take a gap year “to learn” instead of enrolling immediately into college, citing the rationale that ‘once life takes over’, there will never be the time to enjoy these “learning moments”. To consciously hold a child back from admission in a prestigious college of repute may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But imagine if we took inspiration from this mother and allowed our children some freedom.

The author is an educationist and co-founder KA Edu Associates.



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