A two-year-old Baby Falak made her way into millions of hearts as she lay on a hospital bed in AIIMS battling for life, brutally battered with severe head injuries, broken arms, bite marks all over her body and cheeks branded with hot iron. Having battled valiantly for survival for two months she left for a better world shocking the millions who prayed for her recovery.
The story of Falak, an abandoned child, who was at the receiving end of inexplicable trauma, and suffered a vicious cycle of abuse, brings to mind many other similar stories which remain buried, far from media’s attention.
And you don’t have to look far. There might be another Falak, lurking in the dark corners of her house, in your very own neighbourhood. Though the story of Falak is an example of extreme bestiality that humanity can stoop to, we shouldn’t be surprised to know that even parents do not hesitate to be brutally unkind towards their own wards and commit violent acts in the name of discipline.
I noticed one such story in my own childhood, when I saw Chandni, a little girl, aged 9, sobbing badly, alone in her balcony.
I kept staring at her, waiting for her to look at me. I beckoned towards her a chocolate bar wrapped in golden foil and managed to placate her. On asking the reason why she was crying, she showed me her palms, with scars of a hot iron rod. She said that, her mother had burnt her because she had ‘stolen’ an extra ‘imported chocolate’ from the refrigerator.
So much for an ‘imported chocolate’!
I wonder, how violence against one’s own child can be justified, who is an integral part of your very own self, physically, emotionally, psychologically and genetically for sure.
Bringing up a child is not a cakewalk. Parents do get annoyed by the quirky and completely meaningless tantrums thrown up by their tiny tots. Be it an infant, a kindergarten kid, or an adolescent, children continue to test the patience of their parents.
But guess what, all those things about children that parents detest actually belong to them - genes. Ironic but true. So, next time you start to get red hot and pick up a cane for any infuriating act of your child, try to see a reflection of yourself and most importantly, try to let the child completely live his childhood. Why should we make them rush into ‘growing-up’?
After all adulthood, with all its stipulated set of code and conducts, deadlines and redlines, pros and cons, is not that the greatest episode of human life. All phases are special in their own way.
But here pops a prominent question. How to instill discipline, etiquette and all that’s good and perfect in your very human child?
It won’t be right to let the raw earth mould into any undesirable form.
But have you ever seen a potter at work? Have you noticed how gently and patiently, a pair of careful palms caresses the wet clay, holding the marvel-to-be, patting it with affection every time the clumsy clay tends to traipse into a wrong direction, giving it shape, nurturing it with love.
Such is the subtly tough job of raising a child that requires a balanced mix of love and discipline. But many would ask where to draw the line?
If your child makes your day by topping the class, he could be the same to have fractured his radius and ulna and distorted a fellow classmate’s jawline in a brawl. If your daughter makes your heart skip a beat by listening to all those “extraordinary” and “marvelous” compliments at PTA meetings, she could also be the one to have broken or misplaced your costliest diamond necklace.
The trick is to read your child’s behavior and understand his/her thought process, know the child’s strong and weak points.
To know that children don’t listen to what you say as much as they look at what you do. And the most important one, before behaving like a parent, try being a friend.
Just be a little farsighted and look at the consequences of your behavior and you will find it a lot easier.
But what about those who think, spanking and beating and even burning their own children is their ‘birth right’ - the right that comes to them by the virtue of playing a role in bringing the child into the world.
Who expect their children to breathe and eat and play and live as and when their parents dictate to them?
Consider the recent case of an Indian couple being jailed in Norway after they were found guilty of torturing their seven-year-old son. I can’t help but wonder how on earth a father or a mother can even think of meting out such an inhumanly act on their very own progeny. Let alone one’s own child, a normally brought up person, wouldn’t dare do this to any other fellow being, by virtue of plain humanity.
Those in favour of such parents say that a rough hand is necessary to shape your child. They don’t know that roughing up your child would also bring with it the seeds of hatred and impatience. For, they learn from you, they imitate you. They would start hating you, but won’t stop copying you!
Parents must know that a stern stare is much more effective than a sturdy slap. That giving them a story book with a message to read is more effective an option than lecturing them for hours. That doing the things with them is a better way than just to tell them to do it!
Parents must believe their child and at times, let them commit mistakes and learn on their own. You can’t programme your child so as to make him act the perfect way in every situation. The child must trek the tough terrains, fall and get bruised and then learn to rise himself.
In botany, there is a process called hardening. The little saplings raised in greenhouses are gradually exposed to increasingly freezing temperatures, so that they develop the ability to tolerate the frost and survive.
In the same way, a child must be allowed to experience the roughness slowly, and tackle it in his/her own way. This goes on to say that a child must be left free to tread his own course after a preliminary guidance of what’s right and wrong. But this in no way means that the child should be left emotionally orphaned. It also doesn’t mean that a child must be deliberately meted out behaviours which are physically or psychologically painful for him.
Because, the physical scars might fade away with time, but the emotional hurt gets ingrained in the child’s psyche and personality. The child may grow up to become an insensitive, faint-hearted and nervous human being with low self-esteem, who would behave in the same way with his own children and also with his parents who would have turned old by then.
Our children are like the beautiful memories of our own childhood that we can choose to relive, or destroy. The little person that has grown out of you must grow up in a child-like way. With all his mistakes and marvels, successes and failures, smiles and tears, you have to accept your child.
May be not the perfect way, not the ‘Nor-way’, but never let the child get emotionally away from yourself. A pat posted on your child’s cherub cheek in a light hearted way is better than an acerbic splash of words that hit directly at a growing up soul and leave it bruised forever.
And for all those, who don’t understand this logic, I‘d say, you are just growing older and that you need to grow up before your child does.