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Role Reversal

Close relationships change so significantly over a period of time. This is most obvious in the parent-child bonding. A small baby needs 24/7 attention from mother, a toddler needs parents around him all the time, a teenager tries to avoid his parents and only be with his friends, a young adult may have either a love-hate relationship with his parents, or start taking responsibility for them.

At midlife the roles may slowly reverse and the child starts becoming the parent.

The greatest change happens if a parent becomes old and infirm and unable to care for himself.  That is when the clock seems to have taken a complete circle and it is as though the parent has become the toddler or the baby.

How do you deal with the situation?

Boosting self-esteem

For Parents and Tea­­­chers:

Here are a few important tips to parents and elders, that should be followed as far as possible at all times:

Never compare your child with a sibling, cousin, classmate, or any other person.  Motivate and encourage him, but not by talking about others’ success.

  • Do not undermine the self esteem of your child by making derogatory remarks about him. Statements such as “Why were you born?”, “You will never achieve anything in life,” “See how horrible you look, anyone will think you are a beggar,” “If you don’t pass your board exam, get ready to go and become a peon or a coolie,” can leave a permanent mark on the psyche of the child.
  • Do not make him feel unloved, unwanted, and thus making him insecure. Threatening to send him away to a hostel or to relatives, threatening to walk out of the family, or even threats of suicide, can make a child feel very guilty that he is not capable of winning his parents’ love.
  • Do not value him based on his marks or success. While it is understandable that every parent wants the best for the child, remember that some children just cannot excel academically despite their best efforts.
  • Listen to your child – encourage him to talk on any topic without inhibition. Particularly make him talk about how he “feels” in different situations.  Never ridicule or put him down when he says something wrong.
  • Give him emotional support when he is facing anxious moments like exam results. Reassure him that regardless of the outcome, you still love him and accept him unconditionally.

Unhappy with course you selected?

Dr. Ali Khwaja

Some students have very clear goals, lofty ideals and high benchmarks – most common being to get into IIT, National Law School, NDA or MBBS.  The competition being so high, barely 1% of the aspirants actually get a seat.  Even very capable students miss out if they develop stress or are not keeping well on the day of the exam.

Those who have Plan B ready and have made a list of their preferences in descending order, manage to move on to an alternative course. But many students select a particular course in a college they like (often based on what others have recommended), and then realize within a few days or weeks that they have made a wrong choice.  It could be because of the subjects, the teachers, the college ambience, or a fear that that particular course may not get them a good job.

In such a situation, you have three choices (1) continue with the course and somehow complete it even if you do not get very high marks, and plan what you would do after completion, including moving on to a different field through post-graduation or entry-level work experience. A university degree never goes waste, even if you change your field, and a strong foundation would have been laid to move into something which you truly desire (2) continue with your studies planning for entrance exams to get into a better institution next year. In this option if you do not get your favored choice even in the second attempt, you have not lost out and can go through the balance years to acquire the degree you are in (3) drop out, spend the year gaining in-depth knowledge of alternative careers and colleges, doing internship and short on-line courses in the field of your choice, and making a strong effort to get into a very good institution. In the third alternative, you should be very focused and spend the year fruitfully.  I have known students who have dropped out, wasted the year directionless, leading to bigger disappointment in the next academic year.

The essential factor in making choices is to understand and narrow down to your long term career goals, based on not just interest but on a combination of multiple-intelligences, personality traits, specific skills, social and commercial acumen, concentration and attention span, general knowledge and academic capabilities – which taken together determine your aptitude.  Then it becomes much easier to select courses that are most suitable to you and there will be no regret.  I have counseled students who selected a course such as engineering under peer or parental pressure and then felt that they could not cope or are not sustaining interest.  In frustration they dropped out and blindly took up a general course like BBA thinking it will be much easier, without knowing where it is leading them to.  Such students rarely carve out a rewarding or meaningful career in the long run.

Choices in courses and number of colleges and universities have expanded significantly in the past few years, and there are innumerable options in each field including technology, health care, life sciences, social sciences, communication, creativity etc. Detailed and careful selection can ensure that any mistake or wrong decision can still be set right.  The important factor is to select based on your capabilities, and not get influenced by what everyone else is doing, or where there is apparently good ‘scope’.

Completed 10th Standard?

Similarly, those who have completed 10th need to take a decision regarding their academics for the first time in their life i.e. to opt for science, commerce or arts, which combination of subjects, and which Board of study.  Some are very particular about a specific college, but either do not get a seat there, or are disappointed once they start attending classes.  More or less the same principle applies here. Explore whether it is still possible to change optional subjects (which should be done based on your aptitude as mentioned above), change college if admissions are still open, or go through at least one year and explore deeply to determine whether a change is required and for what reason. Taking a year off should be done only as a last resort, and with a clear goal of how that year will be spent meaningfully to ensure you move in the right direction.

One wrong choice need not mean the end of your dreams. If you do not succumb to frustration or depression, immediately start exploring alternatives, and take a calculated decision, you can perhaps move into a better and more rewarding career path.

Ali’s Notes:

“The greatest sin is the one which I don’t commit”

Give a thought to the above statement. Talking about values and principles, many of us inevitably have double standards. We hide or justify our own shortcomings, and we easily condemn others for their mistakes when we are confident that we do not commit the same. If I do not drink alcohol at all, then people who drink are “drunkards, antis-social elements.”  If I am a strict vegetarian, then all who eat non-veg food are inhuman and cruel.

At times it helps to look inward. I may have been fortunate to lead a comfortable life so I have never had occasion to ask favors from others, cheat or let down anyone, beg or borrow. So it is easy to look down upon those who are unfortunate, who have faced many setbacks in life, and who have had to cut corners to make ends meet.

Let us be more understanding towards those who have had trauma, challenges and hurdles yet are making the best of their life.