Excuse the rambling nature of this post. I am removing the filter between the head and the fingers, and so what you would read (if you choose to read, i.e.) are raw, possibly disjoint thoughts that rise at the moment. I don’t intend to be judgmental…just transient expedient thoughts, but they may end up being judgmental after all. Sorry about that, in advance.
I am hearing more and more of young people being “in depression” over issues ranging from academic failure to hormonal upheavals. A few minutes back, I heard of a college kid being depressed because he got caught cheating in an exam – get this right – he wasn’t depressed because he cheated, he was depressed because he got caught cheating. He spoke of “dying” and the entire adult machinery had to get to work overtime, to hand hold the kid through his stupidity.
Last week, a friend called me about her college-going daughter being depressed and frequently threatening to “run away” or “die”, which leaves my friend in a constant state of hyper vigilance about the child. As I spoke to my friend, I wondered if my friend needed help too, she was so high-wound that it was a matter of time before she snapped.
Another school (yes, school) going child I know, in the course of a spat with a friend, attempted to cut her wrist. I hear that two other kids I’ve known since childhood have attempted self-harm in the past couple of years for stupid reasons.
What the, excuse me, F?
We adults are doing something terribly wrong in raising youngsters with self-destructive inclinations and total lack of balance. I know one thing we are doing wrong as parents – we are thrusting our dreams and aspirations on our children, which leads to enormous stress of performance. One of my friends wants her 12th class son to get into one of the premium colleges in India, and has enrolled him for the past two years, in a school that trains for this college – the boy leaves home at 6 in the morning and returns at 9 at night, every moment of the interval being used to train, coach and coax the child. This regimen lasts all seven days a week, for two full years, with not a single day off. Another friend, who put her daughter into the same program a couple of years back, is handling an emotionally unstable daughter, who couldn’t get into the premium college despite the two grueling years of training.
I confronted my friend with the son, about why she would do this to her child and she replies that two years of hard work would pay off in terms of a good future for him. The chap who cheated in exams belongs to the premium college that the friend wants her son to get into – which means that the latter boy has probably had grueling training like my friend’s son, and see where it landed him – he not only cheated in his exams, but vilified the consequence of his action by “wanting to die”.
I have a 14 year old daughter who is in school now. I just want to rush to school this moment, drag her out and push her back into my womb where she would be safe and possibly sane. But that’s not an option. I revel in her evolution in all complexity, colors and occasional capriciousness into an individual. Then I hear and see youngsters doing stupid things, and I panic. The kid has been studying hard for her impending exams, and freaking out now and then about them, and when she freaks out, I panic because I don’t want her to lose her head, like so many kids seem to be. My constant refrain these days to her is “it’s ok to fail…just put in the best effort possible, that’s all you can do”. I know my child is stronger than most others, but I am a mother, worrying is my vocation.
I am torn. On one side, I am dragged by the guilt of not pushing my child to do more, so, like my friend says, she can have a good future. On the other, I think that it is insanity to pawn the certain present for an uncertain future. What if my child fails because of my lax parenting – is it irresponsible for a parent to say “it’s ok to fail”? Or, if I decide to change it all, what if she becomes the emotionally vulnerable youngster because I pushed her too hard?
Right now I am more angry than worried. I want to slap that chap who cheated and uncharitably say “roll over and die, you coward, if you can’t face the consequences of your own actions”. But I think of his parents, his mother, whom I will never know, and the pain she would feel at the pit of her stomach hearing her son say that he wants to die.
When did the self-preservation instinct become optional in human beings? And when did “dying” become a bargaining chip?