Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
I recently saw ‘Hindi Medium’ and was pleasantly surprised that it was such a refreshing, light hearted movie essaying the plight and frustrations of young parents. And the unimaginable lengths that we are willing to go to, to ensure the best for our child. Exaggerated...a tad. But a lot of it was sadly true in this satirical, breezy movie.
But this isn't a film review. What actually stayed with me was the resonating dialogue where the quick-to-hyperventilate, over involved mother (basically: all of us, or we would not be following a parenting blog) stresses that if things don't go their way, their daughter might end up getting depressed and then will start taking drugs.
Until finally, at the end of the movie, her usually doting husband retaliates by saying, “I can't understand why every scenario ends in our daughter taking drugs??!”
Hilarious on screen. But terrifying off it!!
The movie discreetly touched upon the throbbing nerve of every young parent's secret subconscious nightmare, right up there with rape, murder, kidnapping, cyber bullying and the worst of all….suicide.
We pray none of these will ever happen to our children but as much faith as we have in our upbringing and moral values….no matter how much we monitor our children's friends and control the peer pressure... the truth is no matter how hard we try, a lot can be chalked to destiny and is beyond our control.
Doctors nowadays confirm, that there has been an alarming increase in the number of teenagers and adults in their early twenties being prescribed anti-depressants. The reason for this is the easy availability, early exposure and dependence on drugs which causes their moods and feelings to oscillate so violently that they end up getting depressed and in need of prescriptions.
This depression is also possibly related to suicide.
I know the idea behind blogs is to offer suggestions. As a writer I've been doing this for years. And I can very easily and mechanically say what we've all read countless times over:
*Teach your children to say no to drugs
*Involve them in productive activities, especially sports
*Keep an eye on the company they keep
*Monitor their social media accounts
*Involve them in community service
*Raise them to be less entitled.
*Less pressure on academic performance, or any other unrealistic goal for that matter
*Ensure that they have stronger values. Focus should be on life’s experiences rather than acquisition of the materialistic.
But every parent knows all of that! In fact, I could probably get better pointers from others. I am not an expert on parenting and neither do I claim to be one. Nobody really can be. Because every child is an individual and every life situation is unique.
But as a mother, every time this anxiety and worry rears its ugly head, I think of all the things I could do to ensure my children stay happy and safe in this big, bad world.
What I can do is talk to my children. Now! While they're still too young. Too young by society standards to understand and comprehend. Too young to be exposed to information on drugs or sex or porn or relationships. Too young for me to have ‘the talk’ and effectively end the innocence of their childhood.
But because my parenting style has always been a 100 per cent instinct driven, I decided to have ‘the talk’ anyway….and many, many more. Not because I want to think of myself as a cool or progressive mom. But because of the following reasons:
First: I'd rather they have all the information they need from me than get half baked ignorance from anywhere else. Which is happening earlier than we think. And by talk, I mean I state all the facts possible and answer all their questions as simply and as truthfully as I can.
Second: I have found that when a child is a pre-teen anything I say about the birds and the bees, or drugs or suicide, for e.g. is simply information that he or she listens to and registers. With the same detached emotional involvement as when we talk about history or geography.
Since their volatile hormones have not actually kicked in yet, and the topics do not directly concern them, it becomes an advantage to us parents. Because they comprehend the information as though we are talking about someone else.
Waiting for them to turn into hormonal teenagers when these issues are directly connected to their lives, means making the same conversation doubly hard, filled with snickers and giggles, much embarrassment and even more eye rolling at their elderly, uncool mother. When the child is already experiencing an emotion, like a crush or a mild flirtation, in their minds, they are the subject of that conversation and so much effort is spent trying to deny it or cover their embarrassment, that the message is diluted.
Of course, I don't mean to adulterate their childhood. Like any other mum, I wish my babies never had to grow. But they do! So while Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy were very much alive and kicking for more than a decade in our homes, pre-teen is a good time to stand on the threshold and give out instructions for the next daunting chapter of their lives.
With suitable statutory warnings against drugs and sex issued, I took the plunge and confronted my worst fear about suicide too. But here I felt talking was simply not enough. This one goes way beyond tips and instructions. Here, I am not averse to begging and pleading. Pleading with not just my own, but hopefully every other child out there:
“As a mother to a daughter and a son, and as a woman I want to say this, nobody and I repeat NOBODY is worth ending your life for! Please, please consider how much your parents love you and how you will forever destroy their lives with one single act. NOTHING cannot be overcome with the support of your parents, friends and family. No other human being is that important even though it now feels like the end of the world. Life is beautiful. The world is beautiful. There is so much to experience. So much joy that you deserve. So much joy that your family wants to share with you that you will be forever depriving them of.
Life isn't always fair. There is so much sorrow in everyone's life's. Yet the world is full of inspiring examples of how people in the worst and most inhuman situations have overcome everything, just to have that one chance to live. If they can do it, we can too. Together! Suicide should not even be your last option. Suicide is simply NEVER an option. Your parents have a right over your life. Just watch one birthing video to see what a mother has to endure to bring a child into this world. Does her love really mean that little to you?!
I know sometimes life feels bleak. I know heartbreak is tough. But your heart can heal. Take it from me. You're not the only one in the world to experience it.
Neither are you the first to experience any amount of bullying, blackmail, monetary requirement, pressure to succeed. Nothing is insurmountable. Nothing should be equated with the value of your life.
It is impossible to get over the loss of a child. Especially, a loss that should never have happened in the first place. And the eternal regret that we could have, should have done something to prevent it. Please, I'm begging you, please don't punish your family and friends through that kind of never-healing pain. There is only one way:
Talk to us!
We are always right here!
Time really does heal!
Life will always give you a reason to live!
Give your life a chance. You owe it to yourself and your family!”