Dr. Ravi Kumar Surpur, IAS, is currently the District Collector of Kota, Rajasthan. Kota, as everyone knows, has become the nerve center of IIT coaching in India.
Dr. Ravi has written an open letter to all parents of young children in India. The letter is widely available on various news websites.
I consider myself a very unfortunate person because I got a chance to read around 20-25 Suicide Notes of young, brilliant, beautiful and wonderful children.
Am I giving so many adjectives to such children just because they committed suicide?
I am sorry…. The answer is No… They were in fact young, brilliant, beautiful and wonderful children.
A girl with an amazing command over English language in her suicide note (grammatically perfect 5-page Suicide Note with beautiful running handwriting) thanks her mother for giving up her career for raising the children…. Subtle hint that she was pricked on this matter again and again…. Another girl wants her grandmother to become her mother in her next birth…. Another requests her parents to allow her younger sister to do what she likes and not what they like…. One tells candidly that he was manipulated to study Science which was not his taste…. Many simply write in fewer lines that they could not fulfil the expectations of their parents…. Rather few say they were not really capable of doing what is being asked of them….
All of them thought that Death was a much peaceful and effortless action than going through this dilemma of artificially doing what parents want them to do….
As they say, “Tip of the iceberg reveals little and hides mountains within.” Similarly, apparent Suicide Cases reflect small numbers but the reality is all those children who did not opt to take this extreme step but certainly are going through stress/worry/anxiety due to pressure on performance.
Many parents cannot believe after the disaster that it was their own child who took such a drastic measure and I don’t mean to hurt their sentiments any further but the reality is that the child was mentally looking for some blade of grass which a drowning man searches for…. That blade of grass could have been your simple appreciation of his efforts… your solacing words of comfort of asking him to do his best and forget the results… your absolute unconditioned appreciation of his extraordinariness….
Instead, what the child got was threats of performing still better… psychological manipulation by repeat and re-telecasting of the hardships you have gone through for the sake of family…. comparison with better performers (neighbors, relatives, children of colleague, ancestors…could be anyone)… sharing imagination on the loss/notional gain of social status being dependent on child’s performance.
I need to take a pause here since I hear many of you saying that kids do not like many things which are good for them….
Well let us try to see what all good things they resisted…. Eating right, sleeping right, talking right, behaving right, seeing right, listening right, reading right etc.
Child actually observes parents and never follows anything blindly….
Moreover, there is one thing which is certain…. Child analyses and looks at the parents to see whether any of those things preached are followed by parents to begin with, and if so…. Whether their parents are really loving, joyful, peaceful, and happy by doing so….
They tend to pick up only those habits of their parents that make the parents happy and peaceful…
In case you have seriously messed up situations, your child may even not like you….
It may appear strange and extremely annoying…. But there is a possibility of your child not liking you…. This comes in many forms and shades…. Absolute dislike, not liking few traits of yours, not liking you by comparing you with someone better, not liking you for your over-protective care and concern which you may think as love but is suffocating for the child, not liking you for your double standards, etc.
So, is it the objective of this letter to make you realise that your child dislikes you?
Answer again is a big No…. Your child does not dislike you… I am just making a point that unconsciously we may have created such a situation, which we need to undo….
Parents really think good for their children’s future, but the point I need to make is that your dreams are always limited to your experience of what is good… what is successful… what is the best thing…. Well, the truth is your child may surpass your imagination and reach places which you never even dreamed of….
Creating the right kind of atmosphere for the child to grow and flower in the home by making home a really happy, loving and peaceful place to live.
Understanding the needs of the children… There are two extremes in this case… Making the child go through terrible hardships to realize “your” dreams is one extreme, and the other extreme is over-pampered care…. Both of them definitely do not work….
Take time to switch from “teaching mode” to “learning mode” from the child. Children will show you the way to be really happy and peaceful at times…Instead of learning from them, we tend to always assume the role of teacher / preacher.
We certainly are not the benchmark for the child. Many a times, we may be regressive, rudimentary types in comparison to the ability of the child.
Just a final thought. Are you interested in making the child realize “Your Dreams” at any cost, or should it be like creating such situations that the child realizes “His/Her” dreams?