Few days ago, I attended a session in my daughter’s school regarding the upcoming exhibition. Arghh… I groaned inwards as I dreaded the task that lay ahead. Naturally, daughter’s project will become a family project and take over our lives in the coming days. So, imagine my surprise when over coffee and some awesome chocolate cookies (served by the school principal himself) I read the first line of the first slide of the power point which says- ‘It is a pupil led exhibition, parents are not expected, rather prohibited, to take over’. Ah… praise the Lord! Relief swept over me and the cookies seemed crunchier and chocolatier (is that even a word?)

As the teachers continued their presentation, a sentence that was oft repeated was, “It’s not the product, it’s the process”. The idea was to tell us that the children would be assessed on how they go about their research and project and not on the final outcome. It got me thinking how we are always so bothered about the product and not the process especially while bringing up our children. When they are born, we wait for them to stand up and talk, when they do, we wish that at least sometimes they would rather sit and shut up. In their primary years, we think about their secondary and once there, it’s their career then marriage, then THEIR children and its only when our breath gives up on us do we rest, don’t we?

Of course, occasionally we do take time out to ponder, ‘Oh! Where did all these years go? When did they grow up?’ but beyond that our life is spent in this jaddo jahad (struggle). We inherited this from our parents and are passing on the burden of our expectations with an unprecedented enthusiasm to our children. I use the word ‘unprecedented’, with a reason. Our expectations are higher than our parents had for us. This, while the amount of time we spend with them is lesser and admit it, that the temptations for us were lesser too (the simpler times logic worked there as well).

At this point a lot of folks, actually every one (of my generation) are nodding their heads in disagreement and ready with their defence. A request… pause, reflect and be honest with yourself and may be, just maybe, you will see a grain of the harsh truth staring back at you. We mouth the right words but ever so often our focus is on the destination and not the journey. We share our kids’ every small win, every little accomplishment on social media. How many times have we celebrated their loss; told them how the path to this loss is paved with precious lessons? Even if we aren’t one of those competitive set of parents still subconsciously, we are guilty of this oversight.

Our aim is to teach our kids how to embrace failure not fear it. Once the fear of failure gets ingrained in their psyche, they wouldn’t be able to relish the process. Their focus would be on achievement and knowingly or unknowingly we would have made them a part of the rat race that we ourselves hate so much. And their hobbies, passions and interests are the collateral damage in this pursuit.

So, as you click a picture of that certificate of recognition, to upload on Facebook, just book a table for an impromptu dinner date with your kid to celebrate the hard work that went behind the ‘B’ grade she just got in Maths.


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