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Let Them Follow Their Dreams

Ever since Ira was born two years ago, everyone, including me is always on the lookout – she has quick responses, she must be sharp! Her tongue is pointed, she is going to be very talkative (old wives tales go a long way when it comes to anything child-related, right from conceiving)! Her fingers are so long, she will be an artist!! Oh that sweet cooing, she is already a singer!! That was when she was actually just being a baby. Now she has grown older and our aspirations have grown manifold!

She knows many poems, her pronunciations are great, her memory is amazing, her grandfather never tires of praising her memory. She has started using our phrases on her sentences seamlessly, her observation is really amazing. She can say those prayers that even some elders at our home can’t. As you can see, I can go on and on and on. And so can most parents of my generation. There is an immense amount of emotion, and layers of them when it comes to parenting a child. It is vulnerability, possessiveness, belonging, fear, hope, pride, frustration, impatience all bundled into a journey, which in retrospect always seems romantic and lovely. But when we are facing each day of parenting, I feel, we need to be aware that these emotions are running high and not let them get the better of you.

I always want to think of myself as that parent who does not believe in comparing kids, who knows better than to attribute all importance to studies and grades, who will let the child decide what he or she wants to do at one point. I believe in these things, yes, but it is equally true that I have noticed I am often not this person! I find myself comparing Ira with other kids (mentally), I find myself wanting her to like drawing and reading, basically things I like to do. I also want her to be sporty because I never was and that has affected my confidence in general. Do you see where all this is going? I am trying to model Ira’s life according to my so-called successes and failures, my yearnings, and conditioning. And that is exactly where it all starts, subliminally. Parents wanting their children to lead a life they feel is perfect. There are just too many issues with this – firstly, what even is a perfect life, secondly the subjectivity of an ideal life and thirdly and most importantly the idea that children must obey their parents and that parents own the children. There, I said it – parents feeling they can take decisions for their child without their consent, all in the good faith of wanting their child’s well being.

 

Every child is an individual, even when they are babies. Each has likes and dislikes and because a child is good at something doesn’t mean he should pursue it professionally or at all! As parents, it is our responsibility to let the child explore his/her existence in the world, find their own relationships with things, with people, with ideas and thoughts. And this isn’t always related to being able to afford things financially. A substantial part of giving our children opportunities is related to finances, but the most important is independent of it – the process of finding their way out of things, of situations they face. It is, and I say this with a lot of caution and belief, about the gift of creativity. Creativity is not art and craft and poems and tunes. It is the way you think. It is imagination. It is a possibility. As a parent, I want to give that to Ira, first and foremost. And all else will follow.

This is all very simple and very complex all at the same time. All that I have written above is something I know, something I want to happen. I want to be a mother who doesn’t push her own agenda with her child, but I slip. The only thing that gets me through is what I mentioned in the beginning – mindfulness. And if I am mindful, I know I am slipping and can resurrect almost real-time. It is not easy, but it is how generations change. It is how Ira won’t have the burden of certain social conditioning that would limit her thoughts. It is how there will be one less inhibition in the way she thinks and projects to others.

We are already carrying too much past baggage I feel, why pass it on to our children? Children need our wisdom that comes from experience, not our judgment which comes from our unresolved feelings and trauma. Let them have their own aspirations, their own learnings, let’s just be there whenever they need us, otherwise just let them be!

About the author:

Shweta is a Senior Project Associate at Parisar, an NGO working on sustainable urban transport in Pune. She loves to travel, needs her alone time, when she can read, write, and draw. She has a two-year-old daughter, and being a mom is her full-time job too!

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