A fun part of parenting is sharing your little one’s antics with your close friends and family members. It is a great way to make the people who adore your child a part of the child’s growth journey. Recently, I shared an entertaining dance video of my daughter wherein she is grooving to the tunes of one of the latest hits of Bollywood. I cherish the moments when my daughter and I dance together and it is lovely to bond with her over something that I am passionate about. It also helps keep her occupied for a good amount of time because once she puts on her dancing shoes, there is no stopping her.
Now let me come back to my point before I start digressing. When I shared this video, everybody enjoyed watching it and I received the customary heartfelt reactions. While everyone had some nice things to say for her, it was the comment of one of my friends which got me thinking.”
“Wow, she is good Anu. Looks like she will fulfill your dream of becoming a famous choreographer.”
Well, why do I need my daughter to fulfill my unfulfilled dreams? I can do it myself and am already doing it as best as I can. Yes, I will be ecstatic if she becomes a renowned choreographer, but I will be equally elated with whatever else she chooses to do, as long as she is blissfully traversing her chosen path and is taking responsibility of her actions.
I know the comment was well-intended or probably said in jest, but it is quite common in our culture to expect children to accomplish the dreams of their parents. Whether it is fulfilling our own unfilled dreams or the new ones we start weaving for our children once we become parents, it ultimately boils down to making us proud or gratifying us. But, it is not about US, it is about THEM!
Watch any reality show on TV and you will find a number of contestants whose motive for participation would be that their parents aspired to see them there. Almost every child must have heard these dialogues during their blooming years – “Mummy papa ka naam roshan karega/karegi” (Translated to: “Will bring glory to Mom and Dad”), “Will conquer the world”, “Will become a Sachin Tendulkar or a Bill Gates”, and so on.
Is it really necessary for our kids to match up to our ambitions? Why do we need our kids to bring us more glory? What if your idea of success is different from your child’s idea of it, which is quite possible as success means different things to different people? What if your child wants to become a writer who only writes stories he/she believes in which might bring him/her just enough money to survive but immense happiness too, nevertheless? What if your child loves baking and is happy to run a small bakery in his/her locality of residence? What if your child finds peace in being unknown, and living a modest life?
This brings me to the broader point that as parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children life skills and empathy, it is our responsibility to inculcate in them qualities which will make them mentally healthy, it is our responsibility to take care of their physical health and fitness, and it is also our responsibility to help them look within to harbour their own dreams. We need to guide them in their quest for finding their own ground instead of knowingly or unknowingly pushing them to chase our dreams.
Children don’t need to be made to believe that they should do their parents proud. If they aim to become fine, sensitive and independent human beings, it should be for their own selves and not for us. Undoubtedly, we all are proud of our children but this pride is for us to keep and not for encumbering our children with. We can dream for them all that we want! There is no harm in dreaming and more often than not it happens instinctively. But when we start hoping or expecting that our children will make them come true, we are being unfair. We need to stop glorifying the act of “fulfilling parents’ dreams” if we want our children to understand and embrace themselves. Let us help them identify their passions and what keeps them ticking without the unwanted baggage of expectations.