She came in to see me with her son. He was a teenager, and well grown for his age. She wanted me to see her first. She was in tears; she said she did not know how to handle her son any longer.
Her story was typical. She had a difficult childhood, was married into a family which was not very supportive and they were not financially stable at the time of her marriage. She says she took up a job, also educated herself to improve her job prospects. She has struggled a lot; her husband is also a hardworking person.
They have this child, an only son, and so they were determined to give him the best. She was adamant that he should have a good education, and so has sacrificed a lot for that. But she said he was not very hardworking. She could not understand how her son could be like this. She said she and her husband were very hardworking and knew the value of money. Her son had completed his +2 and was awaiting his results.
He was not motivated enough to go look for good college prospectus. He had no idea which college offered which course. He did not even know which stream he wanted to take. The whole summer vacation was spent in front of television. He would at the most go out for an hour in the evening and play with his friends. He would wake up late, would slouch around, not bathe, and would eat watching television. When she came in from office, she would find him sprawled in front of the television.
She was fed up. She wanted him to join some part time course, a gym, (he could benefit with exercise), and generally be more active. She was so upset, she kept crying, and saying that she and her husband made sure he did not want for anything. She wanted him to get admission in an engineering college, and wanted her relatives to be envious of her. She said if it was necessary, they could pay for his seat in the college, but had told him he should get it on merit only. She was not sure he would get on merit. She was very disappointed and wondered why fate was being so cruel to her.
The first question I asked her was if she did everything for him. She admitted that she did. She would even bathe him. He was 16 or17 years old! When I asked her why she bathed him, her answer was he would not do a good job. He would not take a bath till she nagged him and when he did go; she would also go in and scrub him.
The first mistake she did was not giving him age specific jobs. He should have been taught to bathe, dress, tie his shoes, get his school bag ready, pack his lunch and water, do his homework without much prompting, etc. at appropriate age. She did no such thing. She did it for him.
No wonder his script of life was his mother was there to do everything for him. He grew up having everything being done for him by his mother. So he did not know any different. Suddenly he was being asked to do everything by himself. And he did not know how.
He was being blamed for being lazy, and not motivated enough to do anything on his own. He had no clue what he wanted to do in life. He studied and did the course of his parents’ choice. He was threatened with no money if he failed, but this threat was never carried out. That is another lesson she had to learn. Punishments must be age specific and behavior specific. Threats which one cannot carry out should not be given. Children soon learn to ignore such threats. And the parents are left frustrated.
He had to be taught to think for himself. He needed counseling, but his parents needed it more. Unfortunately, this lady did not come for any reviews. She realized her mistake, understood her parenting style was all-wrong. But to be fair to her, she did not know any other method. There was no one to guide her. All she wanted was the best for her son, the best she could give.
The boy said he did not mind his mother bathing him! He did not see anything wrong in that. There was much he needed to be told. With the time available, I did get him to admit he needed to go out and find information for himself. Maybe his peer group had to be changed, a group that was more outgoing was essential for him.
He accepted he could find out more about the colleges and the courses he could do. He also agreed to join a gym, said he was always interested, but was waiting for his mother to find out details. I asked if there was a gym near his house, he said there was, I asked him how would he approach the place, what questions he would ask, what information he needed, he was able to think and come up with the right answers. His thinking mode was tapped, he felt energized. He realized he could do quite a lot for himself. I wish he had come in for subsequent sessions. He would have definitely benefited.
It is amazing how parents make mistakes and mess up their children’s lives. They do it out of love. But if they are rational and mature individuals, they should know better.
Parenting is a 24/7, 365 days job. There is no respite, and a parent will always be on his/her toes. Instinctive parenting is fine; it should be tinged heavily with rationality.