STUDIES / CAREER
OK so let’s start with the obvious. Of course our job as parents is to guide our children in determining their career path. Today more so than ever our children need our guidance when it comes to their studies or their career goals. In the world invaded by social media and with a plethora of choices sometimes children get confused as to what career path to pursue. We can share our experiences with them or if unsure ourselves we can take them for professional guidance. It gets very tempting to dump our expectations on the child but there are enough articles out there telling you that that’s not the right way! We need to identify our child’s strengths and her preferences while advising, after all we do want her to be happy in her work, don’t we ? If you are a parent like me who gets involved in her child’s studies only when the exams are round the corner ; just a little tip, it does not work that way.
We need to be involved at all times, of course that does not mean helicopter parenting but to ask a casual question about school/college over the weekend, grouse about the teachers or complain about the education system in general helps, so that when the right time comes the child has a ready listener and guide in you.
STRESS/ PERFORMANCE PRESSURE
Today’s life is stressful and we need to understand that our teenagers too are under tremendous pressure. Even when we want to be understanding parents and don’t put pressure on our child, the kids see all their peers doing well and they want to outshine each other, thereby putting a lot of pressure on themselves. The more information they get from the outside world the more stressed they might get trying to have it all, do it all. In this world of cut throat competition where even getting a 100% is not good enough, it is quite common for young adults to face early burn out. Lots of adolescents might develop lifestyle related health issues, lose their hair or start over eating or starving themselves. As a parent our job is to try and alleviate the stress. For that we need to understand that times have changed; most of the times the child who we think is casual and laid back is actually under a lot of pressure and trying her best to act ‘cool’. One way I tried to help my daughter during her board exams was to take all her books and some munchies and go to the nearby park, we would feed the squirrels, talk about life and she could study if she wanted to while I sat next to her with a newspaper or a book. Also while she would be horrified I made sure our plans for entertainment like going for movies, going out for dinner etc. didn’t stop.
Just telling the child to relax might not help because then she will start hiding her stress in front of you.
Due to growing pressure sometimes teenagers don’t know how to cope and of course smoking and drinking seems easy solution. Also social drinking has increased in our urban homes, so how can we stop our young adults from drinking when we have a mini bar at home? Well we can’t stop them but we can sure give them information-about the pros and cons, about long term damages, about making a public spectacle of themselves maybe. As a parent whenever I need to talk to my daughter where she feels I am lecturing, my strategy is to arm myself with facts and figures, I do a thorough home work myself and then get into ‘telling’ her. So yes lots of youngsters nowadays smoke and drink but I would tell my daughter about the pitfalls of addiction and alcoholism and how unchecked smoking and drinking can cause both and then let her decide. I will tell her about Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous so that she knows where to get help if ever she needs it .
This is one sensitive issue that is never discussed with kids, hell, even adults have problems discussing about money. How much is too much, what are the needs and wants, should the child earn her own pocket money–all these things are better if discussed openly, and the views might be divergent depending from family to family. Firstly though the parents themselves need to be on the same page where finances are concerned, decide what you are going to talk about and how and who should say what and then approach the child. Otherwise if the child senses discordant notes in the discussion she can easily manipulate one parent against the other. We need to remind ourselves sometimes that our job as a parent is to nurture a responsible adult. Earning money and money management goes a long way in determining whether our child grows up to a productive, contributing and responsible member of society or not, one who can take care of her life and of others if need be.
So finally the taboo topic! Well we don’t want to talk about sex; in some homes, even among husband and wife we do not feel comfortable discussing sex, how can we discuss it with our child? But well, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? Adolescence is the natural age to be curious. Also quite a few teenagers are now dating and we as parents know how strong hormones are at this age–it can supersede all common sense. Also teenagers want to know, they want to explore, and more often than not they resort to internet for information or worse still depend on their peers for information who are equally clueless! Our schools do not talk about sex education and one chapter of ‘reproduction ‘ in biology textbook finished hurriedly in class, causes more curiosity than answer any questions. It is imperative that we talk to our children about safe sex , about monogamous partners, about birth control etc. You might argue our parents never spoke to us about sex and we turned out fine, but don’t we want better for our children ? Information is power so why not empower them if we can. If you are a parent like me who feels lost as to how to start the conversation, you can do what I did, enlist outside help–get a counselor, a doctor whoever is professionally qualified. It is sometimes a better approach to seek a professional’s help because then the child might hopefully listen with lesser degree of embarrassment. As parents we are always lecturing anyways so the child might just sush us up on sensitive topics like this. Also I have noticed if I say something to my daughter there is 50-50 chance she will listen but when the same things are said by a qualified professional she pays heed 100 %
In conclusion please do remember that children are very smart, maybe smarter than us in some ways. Do not try to underestimate their intelligence, they understand us more than we know, after all they have grown up watching us and therefore will imbibe a lot of our qualities and behaviours–both good and bad. So if you don’t like something that your young one is doing or not doing it’s time to take a good hard look in the mirror!
Happy Parenting with BuddingStar …!