Parenting a child has always been a tale of some wondrous stories and some dolor savoir-faire.
Indians have learned things the harder way. The basic concept of upbringing a child in the shadow of one’s own personality is the first step in suppressing the very inherent and visceral quality of the child. As a child takes birth, we unfailingly start the very concept of matching his or her finer qualities with either the “parents” or the “dada” or the “mama” and the list goes on (genes becomes the top most determining factor) till he or she starts a little of his bemusing mannerism which is his own.
As the child starts developing his very own distinctive traits which is an innate virtue of his being, he is repeatedly being compared. The little soul begins to decipher that he is one of them shedding his own traits. Many a times deliberately imitating the person with whom he has been compared.
This is an initial sign of the child losing his character and being veiled by another personality. The very obvious things which the child might have done on its own are masked away and he or she starts adhering and emulating the role model.
We are generally quite accustomed with phrases like “oh! Your child is an absolute replica of his Nani or Dada or sister or mummy and papa” he must have just struggled to open his eyes a day before but their love and affection or their ego has already cloaked their real understanding.
Father might come with a chuckle on his face and declare “oh! Look at those fingers, just like mine.” (baby has his fists closed) well the mother still recuperating from her post pregnancy syndrome might propel and vow with a sigh “but look at the cheek bones, just my reflection” leave aside infinite metaphors of all the relatives peeping and blinking hard to find an analogy.
Years pass on and the child has started to breathe in other’s shoes, be it his dad or mom, his friends or his sister.
Once he is all set to step into the trail, the big bad world shatters his left over self-hood, his last chance of being his own self, of living in his own shoes, of breathing in his own air, of vaunting his uniqueness. He is all smashed by the repetitive refrains of his own mother saying occasionally “You could have scored a little better than your uncle’s son!” and the story does not find an end here but goes on with the perpetual and frequent attacks by the father who is ready with his peevish remarks “Beta! Your swimming strokes are not as great as Mr x son’s strokes “.
And the very erosion of character starts, the child is now fully shadowed by others. His own individuality eventually takes a back seat. His behavioural pattern starts developing the initial signs of crack. He quite often babbles in himself “yes I have to perform like him or her”.
The basic nature of the child has been overcast, what remains is a cocktail of different characters, personalities and traits. His own reduced to ashes, submerged in the burrow, concealed, clouded and camouflaged. The reflection shows a different person. The child fumbles and stumbles to seek for himself but everyone pushes him to disinherit his real self.
Let’s try to make the child unique and precious in his or her own way saying “You are unique and special in your own way and I love those ways.”
Footsteps can be followed but leaving an individual mark is more important.
Ronita-Maitra Bhandari is a free-lance creative writer who writes for various sites and blogs. She has also done a certified course in “Positive Parenting “from U.K. She is a mom to a 7-year-old and loves nurturing her greatest resource, her daughter. Apart from writing she is a nature lover and gets energised wandering around green patches. She believes family is a treasure chest and children are those precious jewels in the chest who sparkle to illuminate lives. What else would one desire to live a rich life?