Should parents burden their child with their expectations?
Like all parents I want my son to be disciplined, don’t eat junk, eat healthy, sleep on time, take interest in his studies, have good manners, listen to elders, be nice to everyone, become something in life … and the list goes on. But often I think should I burden my son with my expectations? Am I putting too much pressure on him by asking him to study well, study daily, be disciplined? Am I stealing away the fun of doing something when I say whatever you do, do well? Did I do right by scolding him? Did I do right by hitting him? Was I being too harsh? Will this serve him or make him a rebel? Will this damage his confidence? Am I giving enough time to him? Should I have me time to do the things important to me or should be available to him first as a parent? Am I being a good mother? Oh God, it’s so confusing, parenting looks so tough because I am never sure if I am doing the right thing for my kid.
Then for a split second, I think, how were my parents? They were not rich, not successful, didn’t have all the good habits to lead by example, were not able to fulfill all our demands, didn’t have much so-called quality time, they were busy trying to make ends meet, they used to scold, hit, whenever they felt required. BUT they did bring us up fairly well, one doctor working as one of the top Radiologists and one engineer passed out of IIT and now an entrepreneur, coaching people to live great relationships & life. Not just that we are fairly well-mannered kids(at least I would like to believe so), we are not only educated, but we are also grounded. I did take care of my parents right from getting the first job before my father’s retirement, getting dad’s open-heart surgery done, to buying a house for them in Kolkata where my dad always dreamt off, buying a car for them, to taking them to different vacations all across India, to getting married by taking a loan, to buying our house after marriage, to buy our dream car, to traveling abroad to multiple countries for work and leisure, to shifting them near to me to serve them in their old age, taking care of all medical, physical, emotional demands of old age, to giving them the pleasure of spending umpteen amount to time with their grandson, to even doing dah sanskar* for my dad.
When I look back, I see one thing that propelled me to fulfill all my responsibilities, fulfill my parents’ dreams, do better in life with every passing year was my father’s expectations from me and his belief that I can do it.
When I go back to my childhood, see how my parents brought me up, I find all answers there. Unlike us, my parents never hid their challenges and financial crises from us, I have grown up seeing my dad work hard to earn money to meet our education needs, to buy new dresses on festivals, to take care of his old parents, to get his sisters married and seeing my mother doing all household work on her own as they couldn’t afford servants, seeing her sacrifice for us, for my dad for in-laws & to meet other responsibilities they had. Unlike us, we always hide our challenges from our kids and most of the time our kids believe we are rich and can afford everything. Knowing my parents’ struggle has created never-ending gratitude in me for my parents and their efforts, it has created value for money, the value of human relationships and an honest desire to take care of my parents when I grow up, to make them happy, to fulfill their dreams and give them all that they sacrificed for us. Today I feel it’s ok for my son to know my struggles, my challenges and the way I am dealing with them.
I remember my dad had big dreams, he was an excellent photographer but never could leave his govt. job to pursue them, he loved traveling for photography but hardly could do so as he couldn’t afford to fulfill his dreams and desires, instead, he chose to do his job to take care of two daughter’s education, take care of wife ( a homemaker) and old parents. But that never dampened his spirits, he always used to say “Khana hai to hanthi ka gu kha*”, he never taught us to compromise, he will say wait, let’s take the best one. He used to speak about the kind of house he wanted to build, the design, the make, the interiors. He took us on a flight the first time when I was five and I remember every small detail of that trip because he made us live every moment of that trip, with him I have learnt to dream. Till today I live to dream big, we fulfill our dream once but in the journey dreaming about the dream makes it such a wonderful journey. He always used to say we will find a way, kuch kare lenge*, and I have learnt not to give up, believe we will find a way and keep trying different ways till we make it happen. I have learnt that my son will learn to dream as I dream, will learn to work hard and never give up as he sees me do so, it’s immaterial if we reach the destination or not but definitely the journey will be worth traveling.
What propelled me to achieve whatever I have achieved in my life, are his expectations from me and his belief that I will fulfill them. It created a desire in me to one day buy a house for him, for which I really had to do well for myself, to buy a car for him, for which I had to do well for myself, to take them around the country, to take care of them at their old age, for all that I had to do well for myself. Not only that, every time I fulfilled one of his dreams he expressed his happiness, his pride, his emotions, shared with every friend and relative of his so much so that it created a desire in me to fulfill the next dream and the next one and in the process, I really created a fulfilled life for myself. In his unique ways he inspired to do well in life not only for myself but for my love ones too, after all the real joy of life is in doing something for our loved ones and we experience heaven when they acknowledge, appreciate, admire us and are proud of for what we are capable of doing & what we could do for them.
By expecting from me, by expecting that I can do what I did eventually he gave me a purpose in life. He was never the richest father, who could afford it all, he was never the coolest dad who would never get angry or never hit me, he didn’t protect me and escorted me wherever I went, he didn’t spend all the time in the world with me, he was a Hitler when I was a kid and the same dad became my best friend when I had grown up. He never made it easy by saying if you fall I have your back, instead he said we can’t afford to fail, that made me a person who knows to stand for myself, never give up and fight till I succeed as I knew I can’t afford to fail. He taught me to deal with my emotions and deal with all kinds of people by being angry at times, short-tempered at times, strict at times, broke at times, lively at times, sad at times, tense at times, loving at times, …
I hope you get some of your answers in your ongoing quest for parenting
*dah sanskar - Cremation & last rituals after death *Khana hai to hanthi ka gu kha - if you have to think, then at least ithink big *kuch kare lenge - we will do something, we will find a way