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If you thought that taking care of a newborn is the most difficult phase in the parenting journey, talk to the parents of some of the teenage boys around. All of them would agree that it is much easy to stay awake at night rocking and feeding the infant but it’s extremely tough to trudge that difficult yet delicate path to guide the teenager. Especially for the boy, teens is an age when he is entering his puberty and starts to develop a unique personality based on his up-bringing and experience. The time with the friends, the outings and parties is much more exciting than the family. For parents also, it’s a very important phase which has to be dealt with patience and a truck load of communication. In today's age and times, when parents are getting busier with their careers and the boy spends most of his time with friends and of course mobiles, it is becoming a tad bit complex to give the right values and morals to him. Many a times, parents don’t realize that in an attempt to be in control of the situation, they invariably make mistakes which are impossible to revoke that easily. Even if their blunders are unintentional, parents in this date should take care that they should not do the below mistakes if they want their boys to be strong and wise human beings.
This is by far practically most unrealistic picture the parents want to project to their sons. In presenting themselves to be the perfect parents, these people always speak/do/behave in the good and correct manner in front of the boy. Thus they indirectly transmit a message that it’s unacceptable to make any mistake. If the boy is hammered with such a “no mistakes please” life, he might develop a fear for trying and experimenting new things. It also limits his creativity and once he is out of the parent’s shelter, he might not get the courage to deal with difficult situations.
A better approach: No one is perfect. So why project the opposite? Let the boy make mistakes and also learn from them. Let him fall and get up on his own. This will not only make him confident but also help him develop a sense of right judgment.
Remember the unfortunate engineer Joy from 3 idiots? He couldn’t deal with the pressures of the world and ended his life in despair. Although suicide is an extreme case, yet many boys go the same path of depression and stress if they are not taught to deal with their issues (physical/ psychological) on their own. Parents often pamper their sons too much and don’t let them experience even little inconveniences. Boys, living in such comforts and luxury find themselves unable to deal with even a little stress and want to hang their boots too early even without giving a proper fight. Over protective and pampering parents are to blame here completely.
A better approach: Let the coal be scrubbed and polished before becoming a diamond. A little discomfort and inconvenience is OK. Avoid giving him an option to leave only based on his own understanding of difficulty level. Ask him to sustain a little more. Keep a watch but don’t always run for help.
2 Indian boys don’t cry.
This is the biggest bullshit the parents can give their sons. And this is not just related to crying. Mind you. Some parents never express their negative thoughts and emotions in front of the boy and in a way create an adverse feeling about such thoughts. You are a boy, how can you cry?? - is the million dollar question. If the boy is not used to expressing his negative emotions, he thinks of himself as abnormal once out of the parent’s care. This also hinters a good communication as the boy feels embarrassed accepting his feelings which leads to severe psychological issues later.
A better approach: Of course boys cry and crying is a sign of a sensitive heart and a healthy mind. Negative feelings like anger, jealousy, envy, grief are as much a part of ones personality as other happy feelings. Parents should encourage the boy to let his emotions flow freely without any inhibitions which will help him in reducing his emotional baggage and make him happy.
3. Patriarchy without communication.
Even after increased standards of education and overall rise in intellectual levels of individuals, Indian homes still haven’t let go of the patriarchal mindset where the son has to follow his father’s orders without question. Even today in many illustrious and highly educated families, the word of the father is considered the rule and the sons are left with no right to express their views. These headmen of the families often exclude their sons from their lives creating a rift in communication which leads to resentment and misunderstanding. Result: Kabhi khushi kabhi ghum.
A better approach: Fathers today should understand that the times have changed and the traditional patriarchy would not work anymore. You don’t have to be pals or chums with your sons if you don’t want to, but at least you can include him in your private world, be a little friendly and share your thoughts and vision. What’s important is – the communication channel should be kept open.
4. Too much or too little discipline:
While some parent exercise too much of discipline to get that control, some of them leave it complete free feeling that the boy might get distanced from them emotionally if they hold him too tight. Any which way, too much of anything is useless. There have been cases where the boys felt neglected due to too much of leniency and felt caged due too much of discipline.
A better approach: Balance, commination, patience..
5. Making a crime out of smoking/drinking:
Almost all the Indian boys dread facing their parents after having a drink or two with their friends or having a fag and going back home. The way smoking and drinking is still demonized in some Indian homes is exemplary. Of course addiction is something serious and should be dealt with strict measures, a simple party with friends once in a while is OK. But alas, majority Indian parents (mothers especially) think that their son is turning into a drunkard after even a single party and want to feed him a huge dose of “ma kaa dudh”. DOH !!!
A better approach: Every boy wants to experience a smoke and a drink once in his life. And teens is the age when partying late night is the best adventure he can have. The parents should allow the boy to enjoy it initially and let the phase pass. They should keep reinforcing about the acceptable limits of partying. If they feel that it is turning into a regular thing, strict action should be taken so that the boy understands that it cannot be accepted beyond a limit.
6. Regular dose of “Khandaan ki ijjat”
Tell me one boy who hasn’t heard that line from his dad once in his life. “Remember you are the torch bearer of our khandaan ki ijjat”. The moment the teenager hears this, he has already drooped a foot. And then, whatever he does, his instincts constantly compare it with the invisible aura of his forefathers. He might feel he isn’t up to the mark and finally ends up doing nothing.
A better approach: Let him live his life his way. PERIOD.
7. Not talking about sex:
This is without saying much. There are lacs of boys who haven’t discussed anything about sex and gender with their fathers. Most of the boys get a grotesque and convoluted idea about it from their friends and reading cheap magazines which creates confusion or an entirely wrong understanding about masculinity. Many boys then develop major confusions and inhibitions which can lead to marital and sexual issues later. And if one thinks to the extreme it also leads to crimes like molestations, rapes and what not.
A better approach: TALK. If not possible. Get some books and make him read.