A child’s secret ask: Scold me, mamma

When one sees a child crawl towards fire, does one explain the harmful effects of fire to the child or physically remove the child away from the fire? Childhood and adolescence are periods of great uncertainty. All children and youth need the positive support of elders, especially their parents. The experience of the grown-ups is valuable for deciding on what to choose from the ever increasing alternatives in life, work, relationships, and so on. Encouragement by and an assertive voice of the parents help the child and youth unfold one’s full potential. A parent’s love can manifest in many ways—sometimes as a hug or a caress and sometimes as a scolding or a harsh word. The child should be trained to see the love behind these apparently contradictory actions. When done in love, even a rebuke gets meaning and without love, even kind and loving words do not cross the barriers of sound and penetrate into hearts. They remain just vacant sound with no feeling.

A person who loves one’s children has a tremendous responsibility and sometimes one has to resort to rebuke or harsh words to drive a point into the mind of the youth or the child. While children are generally more receptive, the youth needs the sceptre of authority to make them understand the bigger picture of things. When a child is born, usually the parents take utmost care to get them vaccinated for developing physical immunity. But can physical immunity be developed merely by vaccinations? The present-day parent gives only super-purified water and feeds only super-refined food to one’s child and keeps the child in a ‘protected’ environment. A child thus brought up falls sick when exposed to natural food, water, or air. Not many parents feed unpeeled and fibrous natural fruits to their children and the result is that the children develop cavities and weak teeth and are incapable of biting and chewing anything that is hard.

A bit of exposure to nature in its full vigour and strength would make the child strong. Even games are played by children now sitting in their comfortable couches munching junk foods! Let the child go out in the open, breathe in fresh air—which again, is increasingly becoming a rare commodity—and listen to the pristine sounds of nature. That will develop the child. Let the child learn from the animals and the birds the lesson of having to fight the fury of nature to remain alive and then the child will understand how comfortable and easy life has become for human beings. While the present-day child is quick at demanding, she or he seldom justifies the need for the demand. The child often makes demands that are ridiculous, outlandish, or plain stupid, and emphatically sounds that the demand needs to be fulfilled and threatens to do something injurious to one’s body if the demands are not met.

Overexposure to the Internet has only increased instances of this tendency. An average child today knows more about the evils of human civilisation than about the basics of morality, love, or peace. It is very common nowadays to come across parents who try to fulfil every wish of their children. The child knows that the parent would do whatever she or he wishes for and constantly increases the list of demands. Even when a parent is unable to meet some demand of the child, she or he gives a detailed explanation for the failure. While the present-day child knows how to demand, she or he is totally unprepared to go through the toils of earning. This manner of upbringing creates individuals, who cannot face real-life challenges.

Parents can strengthen their children by offering them an immunity of a different kind—emotional immunity. Every child should be gradually and systematically exposed to rebukes, failures, and rejections. Not every demand of the child need be fulfilled. Let the child have a good share of ‘no’. Today’s child has learnt only to acquire and not to cherish the value of such acquisitions. Parents should make their children realise and appreciate the value of what they have instead of hankering after what they have not. Parents should insist that the child earn or deserve what she or he demands. Sometimes merely advising in a soft manner does not help. A scolding or rebuke comes handy in such occasions. A bit of controlled and monitored rough experience helps the child not lose balance when facing the rough and tough world. It is a shame that in India, many children live off their parents even in their late twenties. Doting parents are the major cause of this phenomenon. Every child should be taught to earn money on one’s own even while a teenager. That would bring in them a sense of responsibility. That would also make them think twice before carelessly making a demand. It would give them a hard mettle so much needed to survive the adversities of life. Many times, the parent turns a silent spectator to the behaviour of the child, which the parent knows to be wrong. Such passivity is brushed off in the name of ‘freedom’. The child turns into an adult and when bogged down by the pull of that wrong behaviour carried down unchecked from childhood, wonders why her or his parent did not even for once attempt to correct it. Many children today are desolate that their actions are not monitored. They see it as a lack of love from their parents. If truly loving and truly concerned, the parents would hear their children’s hearts cry: ‘Please scold me!’