We hear a lot about teenage suicides these days. We had a seminar on the subject and it pained me to learn that teenage suicides in our industrial township are around 4 times the national average. Around the time when exams are held and results announced the suicide rates tend to peak. These days we feel less confident about scolding students. The other day a girl was talking to someone on the cell phone for over 30 minutes during class hours and I objected. Had it been two years back I’d have taken the instrument away, sent her to class and asked her to bring a note from her parents that they had given her the phone. This time around I merely said “If you wish to chat with your friends, do it anywhere in the college except this corridor. I have the habit of snatching phones. Please don’t give me a chance.” You see the teaching learning process continues and I am learning a new lesson every day. Who knows what the girl would do. If she prefers to talk over the phone during her class hours it was her problem not mine. Before I retire from my present job I plan to learn to smile at the girl and say “talking to your friend?? Please pass on my good wishes.”
I may appear to be joking. I am not. Our youngsters are ending their lives for reasons that seem to be trivial to us. According to experts there is a huge communication gap between parents and their teenage children. What is the reason for such a huge communication gap? My husband often recalls his childhood trips to his maternal grandparent’s home. The children would indulge in collective mischief and would be spanked by any adult who spotted their pranks. This adult could be an uncle, a neighbor or even a servant. Sometimes the actual culprit would escape punishment and someone else would get punished. They never took much notice as long as they got to spend time together. For every adult who spanked them there would be two others who would pacify them. No one bore a grudge and soon all was forgotten. These days one is not able to say anything to one’s own children, let alone a neighbor’s child. One reason for this could be lack of social interaction. When one interacts with those around it becomes evident that it takes all sorts of people to make the world.
Another reason is parental interference and support for wrong reasons. It makes them uncompromising and ill prepared to take set backs. Parents indicate that they would go to any extent fair or unfair to see their children outshine other children of their age. An unhealthy competition sets in and the child strives not for excellence but for one oneupmanship.
A third reason is misplaced expectations by parents on the children. A little girl I knew was good at elocutions and debates but she was just not interested in sports. Her parents enrolled her to play chess thinking that she would take to the game since it required mind power. Her father was a sportsman and he just could not accept the fact that his daughter was different. She had to excel in some form of sporting activity. The smart 10 year old asked her parents why it was necessary for her to do what they wanted her to do. When would she ever get time to do what she wanted to do? Her parents were intelligent. They let her grow at her own pace in the direction she chose rather than the one they had in mind for her. This is exactly how parents ought to act. Learn to draw a line between one’s ambition and its enforcement.