I am writing this letter on behalf of every Indian child specifically from the middle-class and the lower middle-class background. My letter is precisely a reflection of how I/we felt at different stages of our lives from the age of twelve, to our teenage years and in our twenties.
We are blessed to have parents who provide us with food, clothes, shelter, education and take us to fancy restaurants, cool vacations etc. All this has not just cost them money; they have also made many other sacrifices and compromises for our happiness. Sometimes owing to work responsibilities they skip meals; despite having diabetes, blood pressure or God knows what all health issues. Dear parents, we may not say it, but we do realise this, and it’s the reason we love you unconditionally.
You work hard to send us to big schools and pay for our coaching classes. Some of us go on to be successful in future while some of us don’t. But are you really investing your blood and sweat wisely? You might think you are not putting pressure on your child, but is it really true? Hmm, now begins the actual letter. Just like how life for us starts at the age of 16-17 or maybe a little early sometimes. Does the fact that you have invested a massive amount of money, makes it obligatory for us to perform well in schools and institutions? And if yes, is it fair? If I fail to deliver, am I wasting your money? And again if yes, is it fair on me?
You save a lot and buy a car finally; you take great care that not a single scratch appears on it, but if that car does not perform, what would you do? Will you ever say it was a waste of money? No, you will take it to a service station and get it fixed. You buy a filthy expensive mobile phone, but it does not work correctly and keeps getting hang right when your boss is calling, will you ever say it was a waste of money? No, never. But when a child does not perform well in education how can you say they have wasted your money? For God’s sake that is a child – a small, innocent child who has feelings and emotions. Your car and mobiles don’t even have emotions! This is just the beginning. Various issues need to be addressed here.
If you really want to invest in your child, invest time. Spend time with him or her, rather than money. Believe me; it will be worth more than your money. We don’t want you to be abused or harassed by your seniors or managers at work. Why should you suffer? For whom? If you are doing this for us, then please stop. We do not want that. We want your time, your support, your ears to hear us talk and your hands around our shoulders. Sit with us, speak to us, understand what we want, understand our mentality and our thoughts. And if you think that the child should come to you, then it means a person in their 30s or 40s, is expecting a person in their teenage years or in their twenties to show more maturity.
Agreed they are your brother or sister, but you should not give them a license to decide what is good or bad for us or what will make us happy. We understand you grew up with them, spent your childhood with them, but, you are the ones responsible for our childhood. Please remember that we did not choose to come into this world, you are the reason we are in this world, you gave birth to us! So, what is more important – people you grew up with or a human you brought into this world?
Please be responsible for your children, decide what’s best for them, do not leave us in anyone else’s hands. Tomorrow, when you will be on your death bed, your children will be by your side, and the people you grew up with will be on their death beds too, surrounded by their children – that’s how the world works. We look up to you, so you should not let them make decisions for us. I don’t want to divide a family, but all I am trying to say is, there should be a boundary – where you should stand and say- “No one crosses this line, because they are our children”. We don’t have anywhere to go and no one to look up to, except you.
It has been weeks, months and (in my case) years since you sat beside your child and had a serious conversation with them about their personal, academic or professional life. How do you think you know us then? To know someone you need to spend time with them. Living under the same roof, ‘seeing’ each other in the evening or some part of night or morning, does not mean you spent time with them. Spending time means talking to them. Spend time with them rather than with your clients in the USA or in preparing your work schedule or for a meeting at your workplace etc.
We have friends to party and to go on drives and restaurants with too. What we want is just you talking to us. And then you say we know you, how is that even possible? No, you don’t know us. I am sorry, but you never spoke to me, so how can you say you know me? You assume you know us or you decide what is good for us ( obviously after consulting our dear uncles, aunts and society) and then based on that, you take some important decisions of our lives. How do you know I don’t feel pressurised? I am asked to do something beyond my capabilities and that too with 100% success rate! As I am your child and not your car or mobile, I do not even have the luxury to fail and still not feel pressurised…
Someone who my parents have given a license to infiltrate my personal life and make decisions for me told me that I wasted my parents’ money, by not performing well in an exam to secure a seat in an esteemed college. Now this person, by the way, has a history of poor academic record. God’s mercy saved him from drowning. Could you imagine the level of pressure and mental stress that your child goes through? Of course, he will not perform because you chose a field for him that is beyond his capabilities. Still, the child won’t stop trying because he loves you more than his dreams, or sometimes because he is financially unable to take a call for himself.
Till the parents or ‘well-wishers’ think that parents’ investment in a child concerning money is a social service, no one will be happy. Your child will be stressed with the burden of performing well without failing and you with the disappointment of your child not fulfilling your expectations. Again, if you think that you get returns on your so-called investment then understand where your child can perform by talking to him rather than assuming what he wants or what is right for him. Please support us so that we are not afraid of falling. Let us fall, let us fail but please do not stop believing in us.
A child grows up seeing his parents putting efforts and money, and he decides to make his parents proud one day. He participates in events, wins prizes and accolades, goes on to have an excellent academic career. Even if he hasn’t achieved all of it, yet, he is still ambitious and wishes to reach great heights. He dreams of having a photo of him on the front page of the newspaper with his parents beside him; he tries to imagine that moment, and his eyes tear up, and then he commits to achieving it. But having high ambitions in life seems futile when he hears this statement – “You did not study to work where you have interest or passion in, you studied to earn money, and they will put you into something you don’t want to do again.”
Is it really about money? Do you realise how helpless a child feels when he wants to do something he is confident about, but you have the money but won’t invest because you think it is not good for him or that he will fail, and your money will be lost? Do you remember your words – “What we are doing is to secure a good future for you?” Well, you just contradicted yourself because after that the mental pressure of living and performing in an environment where I am not capable enough will slowly kill me from the inside like slow poison.
I will just be faking a smile henceforth. Money is not everything, and even if it is, that does not mean you take away the peace of mind of a helpless soul. Let him do what he wants. What’s the worst that could happen? Will he fail? So, what’s the big deal? Success takes time and a number of failures. That’s what you taught me – be patient and keep trying.
I am not asking parents to spend money beyond their capacity. I started the letter saying we acknowledge your sacrifices. Just walk up to us, tell us what’s bothering you and discuss the problems with us. If you think we will not understand, it is only an assumption on your side. If you do not have the finances to support us, it is completely fine. We are your children, and we will understand, discuss and even find a solution to the problem. We can always reach a conclusion that satisfies all of us. We don’t want you to sweat unnecessarily beyond your capabilities. All we want is, you not imposing anything on us before talking to us first. And if you are financially stable to support your child then it becomes your duty to help him – that’s his right!
I want to conclude this letter by telling all the parents that no matter how you treat us, you still are going to be our top most priority. All we want is that you make us yours too and in the right way. Talk to us, understand us, believe in us and give us the license to fall and fail in life!
We love you.