Monday, March 7, 2011

Who is to be blamed?

I read in the Hindu Sunday Supplement a few weeks back, an article about the decreasing childhood. I nodded to it, messaged a couple of my friends whom I thought would be interested, to read it. There lay the matter. Long after that, a couple of days back, while skimming through the pages of a daily, a small snippet caught my eyes. The heading read '16 year old girl in the city commits suicide'. Like any other newspaper intro, the reason for the suicide was mentioned in the first para. And you know what the reason is? She was scared about her approaching 10th board exams...She was so scared about her performance that she decided to escape the torment and end it once and for all. The newspaper said, she had missed some classes and was skeptic about how she would perform, how her grades would turn out. All I can say is – DEPRESSING

She sure was in a phase of life where she could be molded or led to believe what is wrong and what is right, what is bad and what is good. Who is to be blamed here for the girl's untimely death?

Is it bad parenting?
Is is peer group pressure?
Is is the pressure put on her by her school?
Is it the perceived notions of the society?

One could argue, it is a confluence of all the factors put together. That its the mindset of the society, that children are growing up too soon, that the world is bad and its only the survival of the fittest. But I think, it has got a great deal to do with Parenting. Now, I cannot talk about parenting authentically since I have never been a parent. There are some serious problems with our value system I believe.

There is this line from the movie 'Thank you for smoking' where the protagonist is the spokesperson for the tobacco industry and he defends smoking in front of a jury. The jury questions him about teen smoking and how its is destroying young children. His answer was “Gentlemen, its called education. It doesn't come off the side of a cigarette carton. It comes from our teachers and more importantly parents. It is the job of every parent to warn their children of all the dangers of the world, including cigarettes, so that one day when they get older, they can chose for themselves”. That made a lot of sense to me. Upbringing is what it takes I guess. How you bring up the child.

If the girl was open and confident about her parents, I don't think this would've happened. If the parents gave the child that confidence about her academics and about what true performance is, I don't think this would've happened. Its the values that you impart to one's children that is called education. Whatever the society is or whatever happens in school, if the kid has that fall back confidence at home, thats a child's pillar.

Thank God, I had it all during my formative years and more importantly...glad to have such amazing parents.


  1. It’s a little bit to do with parenting, and bit of how confident the child is, I feel.

    Let me take my own case. I took science in 11th and 12th, because my dad wanted me to. And then I proceeded to consistently fail in all my science subjects those two years. I had to face a lot of crap at home. I just was not interested in the rat-race. And then I flunked my Physics paper in the board exams. My world all but fell apart. No one, including me, could believe that I had flunked.
    But I didn’t commit suicide, nor did I attempt to. The thought didn’t cross my mind even once. Because after the initial round of yelling and tears, my parents supported me thoroughly, so did my friends.
    But more than that, I didn’t attempt suicide because I was not a coward. I was ready to face the situation. I loved my parents too much to put them through the trauma, too. My agony would have ended in a second, with the slice of a knife or the tightening of a rope around my neck. But they would have to spend the rest of their lives thinking that I ended my life because of them. And I loved my life and myself, as shallow as that might sound. I was too arrogant to end my own life. I also knew what I wanted to do once this minor hurdle was crossed. I knew I had other options.
    Maybe that’s what these kids don’t have, or are not given. Options. They need to be reassured that engineering or medicine is not the end of the world. And if they’re not told, they need to explore it. They need to be told that marks are not the benchmark of success. It’s just a number.

    Now my father proudly tells people that his daughter is a Central University graduate. :). I’m glad I didn’t rob him of his pride..

  2. @ Spaceman: All these are values, these values were inculcated into you right from the beginning. 10th or 12th is hardly an age you can think properly for yourself, when you can take a decision. True, you were strong, but more than that its a strength you gained from your surrounding. When I was in the 8th I was pretty much sure I would flunk that year in school. I was tensed and scared about it. I asked my mom, what would happen if I flunked it. Her answer was just this..."whatever happens, you're my son" That is what had given me the confidence henceforth. Its not that I wasn't strong or anything, but the parental bond gives you that extra confidence that there are people who love you without a reason. And I believe at that formative age, that confidence you have from your parents is necessary.

  3. Well...I have not had any such 'pressures' from home. Though I got enough to wet my ears if I got low marks in my 11th and 12th, I was never worried coz I knew deep within that my parents weren't worried. In the end it's all about the confidence you have in yourself and also as Arun said, the strength you gain from your surroundings.

    But one thing is certain... kids now are really too chicken about the exams. This is certainly not the first time am reading this stuff in the paper

  4. @ Blick: The pressure to perform was always there, its not a new phenomenon. But cases of suicides reported for such an issue was lesser then I believe. And parenting is all about that confidence I believe. You have that confidence of none other than the people whom you need the most - your parents.

  5. Case 1: Guy I know was yelled at by his mother for not getting the highest mark in class. Her words - 'Go fall under the next train'. He didn't, thank god, but that is another story.

    Case 2: One of my colleagues "Which school is good? How many of their students get 100% in Maths and Science?"

    The problem is that people seem to forget there is more to life that Maths and Science and scoring marks in school. I know umpteen people who got to IIT and then had a burnout. I also know people who flunked school but are doing very well in their lives right now. It's very natural for parents to worry, but it's high time that they realise that life is not about coming first... Why is it so hard to understand that happiness means different things for different people? And that success isn't necessarily monetary? Some major counselling is required for everybody involved -children, parents and teachers.

  6. @ Divya: In both the cases, its the parents who are behaving insensitively and inconsiderately. They fail to understand the pulse of the child.
    Ya, its true that parents worry, but this is not the way to manifest and thats exactly what I mean by good parenting.It is not about giving your child the best always. Its about giving the child the benefit of choice. Helping him/her decide for themselves, correct when necessary, scold when needed and be there always.
    Parents should give that child the confidence.

    To take my own example, I have been a terrible student when in school, in fact terrible would be an understatement. I have failed without a fail for my maths and physics all through my high school. Every other week my mom has visited the school to see my school principal cause of her child's unbecoming behaviour. My principal in school has told me, I'll never do well in life. My teachers have told me, if I go on like this, I'll end up nowhere in life. Let me also tell you, I studied in a school where every year we had an above 95% distinction rate and almost all the time, the ranks. I was under tremendous pressure, I even felt I am a good for nothing. But you know what kept me going, the fact that my parents are there. I have had sleepless nights thinking about what my dad will say looking at the progress card, but once the initial firing was over, he would reassure me that its okay and I just have to work harder. He and my mom gave me that extra confidence. Thats an age when you are susceptible to many a thing, its easy to get carried off by what others say. If I say, its just my confidence in myself that helped me through, that would be too egoistic and arrogant. The strength I drew from my immediate family and a couple of good friends is what helped me sail through.