The happiest gift I got on this Fathers’ Day was a comment from my younger son Mithun, that I’ve been a good father and that he has imbibed certain timeless values from me that are handy for him as a young father. To admit, none of those values were my personal inventions, rather those that I imbibed from my parents who were simultaneously disciplinarians with regard to punctuality, honesty and straightforwardness, as well as loving. Parenting, I believe, is more than focussing on mere academic success. We have to train children to be good human beings and socially committed citizens. My parents trained me like that. Like Mithun said, my parents never compelled me to get first grades in school, but were never tolerant when it came to practicing values that make up a good human being. Whatever good is in me is due to them and I have tried my best to pass it on to my children likewise. I have dwelt in detail on the experiences of those bygone days in my book “Ormakkilivathil”.
I know many parents these days, who give primary importance to academic success and achievements alone, neglecting other aspects that make up a person, making it easy on themselves and the kids ending up to be selfish and self-cantered. The old parenting is like eating gooseberries – sour first and sweet later. Some of the rigid disciplinary practices and actions of my parents which were considered a burden then, I should admit, helped me the most to be a successful and socially accepted person that I’m today. The same has been vouched by Mithun also.
I believe there is no meaning in simply advising the children to be good and virtuous. We have to show example through our own life. When it was time for my kids to be send to school, many of my friends opined since I have enough money why don’t I send them to boarding schools in Ootty or elsewhere. I didn’t, because I strongly believed that children should stay with parents till 17 years, only then they can imbibe the value system of their parents. But, of course, if parents themselves are not disciplined, punctual, straight forward; going to clubs and parties every day, it is better to send them to some boarding school, so that they learn discipline.
In the rat race that characterizes the lives of most children today, parents should teach them the importance of quality time with others and just ‘being’ instead of constantly being focused on ‘performing’.
In the nuclear families of today parents find it so hard to say ‘no’ to their children. They must remember that it is more important to teach kids to face failure, disappointments and delayed gratifications in life, so that they won’t lose hope at the very first taste of a challenging situation in life.