Hey, remember the adorable song from The Lion King, where Simba says he ‘just can’t wait to be king!’ I think he speaks for all of us when he dreams of a time when no one will tell him to do this and do that.
So why do all kids dream of growing older? Find out in this wonderful write up by Karishma Mehra, a counseling psychologist, family therapist and a parenting coach.
‘I want to grow up fast! I can’t wait to be an adult!’
This was my own mindset while growing up. As a child brought up in a conservative Indian household, all my life I was only instructed and directed, time and again, about how I was SUPPOSED to behave and to be.
A while ago, while doing some research on schools and how this system of education and child development began, I was amazed and shocked to find out that schools were only created in the 18th
century to teach factory workers certain skill sets, in order to boost productivity and output.
Structuralism was strongly embedded in the schooling system– in fact, classrooms today are still based on the Prussian Model of education, focusing more on the ‘year’ of study rather than on ability. A documentary released on Netflix called Batch of 2020 aptly portrays how structuralism is so deep rooted in children’s culture.
In fact, our children’s lives are often being limited to assessment, management, intervention and treatment, while conveniently marginalizing the knowledge and skills the children may possess for their own lives. Problem-saturated stories of children often make them feel, “the problem is me and I am the problem!”
As a therapist, I explored the understanding and expression of individuals about their experiences in life. Very frequently childhood memories and issues often show up in conversations, evidently having profound effects in shaping the lives of young people.
As parents, interestingly when we make decisions, there are intended consequences as well unintended or undesired consequences of these decisions. Culturally, the power dynamic has evidently been one sided. We sometimes tend to authoritatively feel responsible and take
the liberty to decide for children. A child’s perspective is never given much weightage in our structured society. Adherence to typical ideas about ‘growing up’ and conformity is expected from a child.
In my pursuit to make a few teenagers in my workshop comfortable with each other, I once asked them to write down what stops or hinders them from truly relating to others in a group. I was amazed to learn how the fears and conditioning of our structured childhood and culture stood out in showcasing how they felt about themselves. Interestingly, a lot of them voiced how they felt bad about not being asked or consulted about their major life decisions by parents and elders. The power imbalance in our relationships is more than evident, and needs to be worked upon.
The children’s culture definitely struck a chord with me; I think it has a great deal of influence on parenting practices, which are also passed down and followed through generations of structuralism and normativity.
I observed the power of allowing children to give feedback to parents. When I dwelled on it within a workshop, I was amazed at the kind of compassion and empathy they held for their parents; but because we are so politically restricted and culturally controlled in our responses, the entire group of teenagers refused to actually approach their parents with the feedback. The power imbalance in our relationships is more than evident, and needs to be worked upon.
The words and actions of adults can leave a permanent mark on the identities of children and adolescents with impressionable minds. However, still, most of them voiced the same idea– of wanting to grow up as soon as possible to be free from these authoritarian relationships. Through deliberations and active reflections about observed parent-child relationships as well as from personal experience, I have come to realise that involving children and dealing with them as individual souls – not controllable kids – can be an invaluable tool for parents to build a rapport with their children. Truly connect with them and with their inner voices.
Parents and kids, do you have a question for Karishma? Please send them to email@example.com and we will have it addressed by her. We are grateful to Karishma for also being the counselor on board for ‘What’s on my mind’ , the 1st ever live podcast run by adolescents on their mental health.
Know Karishma Mehra better:
Karishma is a counseling psychologist, family therapist and a parenting coach. She is a mentor to the young and a life-coach for women and children. Her centre, Happiness Quotient in New Delhi, is designed to enable people to explore and enhance their inner potential. A Masters in Psychology, Karishma is certified to practise Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Solution-Focused Behaviour Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Mental Space Psychology. She is also a practicing graphologist. Karishma is keen to actively combine psychology and education, and is currently associated with Max Hospital, Delhi, and schools such as Sardar Patel Vidyalaya.