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Selfishness, rather self- centeredness has gone to an altogether new level these days. I feel this trait by
itself is a side effect that started showing up when the human race ‘developed’ from interdependence
to self sustainability. The concept of selfishness still had a wider perspective of ‘Me and my whole
family’ or ‘Me and my friends’. This later reduced to ‘ Me , my spouse and kids ’ and then to just ME.
The irony here is that beyond this, there is no level to stoop to and the ‘self ’ comes to a breaking point
when the realization of ‘I am alone’ strikes. We blame umpteen things for this –the competitive world to
inflation in our economy to the growing trend of single child and what not! But seldom do we recognize
the fact that we are teaching our children to be selfish. I can’t really say consciously or not; that’s for
each parent to introspect.
Let me share a personal experience here. I and my little nephew were once flipping through my
wedding album and there was a picture where I was posing with two of our domestic helps with my
hands on their shoulders. I was dumbstruck when he popped a question- “Why did you pose with
them? It’s not looking nice “. I tried making him realize how important their role in his daily life is- from
making him food to cleaning up the house for him to hop around. But those disturbing words from a
child left me thinking - where is it that we are going wrong with our kids.
We do have reasons, our rights and wrongs, and it’s difficult to judge or prescribe a ‘one correct
method’. The only way is to become conscious- so that even when you do damage, you can do some
damage control too. I am sharing here some very simple signs that may help you look within and be
aware of your negative influences you may have on your child.
In the name of hygiene: Undoubtedly, hygiene is something every parent is paranoid about and that’s
totally called for. But when you say do not play with the poor children in the locality, or do not take food
from the cleaning lady in the apartment - it is not obvious to our little one that you are just being
protective. You are feeding some conflicting thoughts in their innocent brains and you will need to
reason it out to them why you said so.
Sharing , from food to gadgets : I was this kindergartener who was least interested in food and would
happily distribute whatever I had in my snack-box until I grew up and feeling of appetite set in. So ,my
mom would constantly pester me to finish my food on my own and this is genuine motherly concern
that could have some side effects. Nowadays, this has extended to iPads too. Sure, you don’t want your
hard earned money to be broken into pieces by the brats. But, it is a better way to write it off the
moment you decide to give an expensive toy to your child than telling your child to play it alone when
friends are not around. It is important to ‘show’ that sharing is caring.
Inter-dependence: Ms. Google aunt helps you with the intricate routes and you do not even have to
look up from your phone to realize whether its day or night. Each to his own is a principle that the
current generation is living by. While it is difficult for us to unlearn, try not to pass this on as a legacy.
Nurture empathy in your children and while teaching them to be independent, teach them the
importance of inter-dependence too. Encourage them to help and ask for help. Financial and emotional
dependence should not be taught as something that’s undesirable. While earning on my own gives me
confidence, I am happy not to be carrying my wallet and feel totally dependent when I hang out with my
parents or husband. My mom has not worked all her life, but every penny my dad earned is in their joint
names whereas now there are pre-nuptial contracts that details how the joint property will be split in
case of a divorce. Let our children not grow up into adults that will fight saying ‘my money and your
money’ even in a committed relationship. You can be stingy on the pocket money you give- but do not
give them ideas on how not to spend it for a friend so as to save on it.
Selfishness will bring negativity to your own child, if not addressed at an early age. Let them learn to
share their toys and tiffins and they will grow up to share their time, money and feelings too. Even if we
cannot raise selfless children, let us not raise selfish ones.