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Many parents are beginning to understand that life is much more than academic grades. Yet, they aren’t really equipped to help their children through it.
Come March, and I spend a lot of time thinking about issues related to our children’s year-end academic assessments. I have been a children’s coach for several years now. I have seen a significant change in the mindset of students and parents regarding exams.
More and more parents are now accepting the idea that academic excellence is not the sole factor that determines their children’s future. While the shift in attitude is welcome, there is still a lot of grey area that neither the students nor the parents have been able to clear.
For starters, parents have recognized that their children need to learn life skills in equal measure to be successful people. But, they are still unable to let go off their penchant for grades. It hugely matters in their grand scheme of things.
As a result, exam pressure is now more masked and covert than it was before.
Children are made to believe that success is a lot more than coming out tops in academics. At the same time, they are given a thorough dressing down if they fail to meet their parents’ expectations academically.
Yes, let us admit! A chunk of us still has mighty expectations from our wards, no matter how vehemently we deny it.
Of course, parents have altered their views to some extent. But, I am still concerned that they are unable to chart a clear course for their children beyond academics. A number of parents have recalibrated their beliefs about exams. They have now begun to advise their children to ‘look beyond exams.’ Yet, they are unclear about what the phrase means.
We all concede that our children need more than grades to survive the challenges of a new world. But, are we even clear on what those tools for survival might be? If yes, are we capable of teaching them how to manoeuver through the maze of difficulties?
A youngster, who is a sophomore at the university, recently made a shocking revelation to me. He said that a number of students in his campus inflict self-harm owing to demands of various kinds on them. A majority of them find self-harm as a means to release their stress.
What appalled me was the fact that parents are oblivious to these acts of their children who are away in universities and hostels. The pandemic and the physical distance have only exacerbated the situation.
The scene is not very different in families that stay together. Parents are still unaware for the most part of their children’s struggles. From academic anxieties to peer and parental pressures, our children are grappling with a lot more than we might be aware of.
It might be easy for us to label them as ‘unmanageable and incomprehensible’. But, we fail to understand, as parents and guardians, that we still cannot shrug our responsibilities by pleading helplessness. Neither can we be overly imperious in the way we tackle them.
A happy balance is not easy to achieve. We still need to labour a lot to get our young ones off the ground, and hoist them into a safe future. Needless to say, our task only got tougher with the nasty influences that they came under inadvertently.
The only way we can resolve this issue is by first deciding what we want for our children. I must stress, for them, and not from them. Secondly, we have to consider our role in determining their goals for life.
They may be young and immature, but it doesn’t mean we decide their goals and design their future. Instead, we would do better by helping them set their objectives for themselves. And, for this, we need to be clear about our own priorities in life.
When these two things are ascertained, guide them down the set path with sagacity and patience. Our lessons to them can come only from a source of value-based living that we ourselves practice. It is a sad truth that many of us are clueless about what we need and want in life. But, some soul-searching and self-analysis will go a long way in finding solutions to our children’s new age woes.
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Asha Iyer Kumar is an author, life-writing coach, and active blogger, based in Dubai.
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