“What do you want to become when you grow up?” This is a favorite question for every parent. I have seen parents (including me and my husband) repeating this question to their children many times over the years. The first few responses are simply adorable. I am told that my first response to this question was, “I want to become a Dad”.
As the child enters adolescence the response starts to be more thought through. As parents, we also start becoming more serious about it. After all, it is time to lay the foundation of their long term career. If they want to become a painter, they should join painting classes. If they want to become a dancer, then parents should look for dance masters, and so on. Parents nowadays go to great lengths to fulfill the ambition of their children. I know of many parents who even uproot the complete family, just to give the right environment for the child to pursue his/her ambition.
Given that most parents, today, want their child to follow their passion and are ready to support the passion, children of today should be the smartest and happiest kids ever to walk this planet. Unfortunately, I see the reverse trend. It saddens me to see that majority of this generation is more frustrated, confused and direction less than we were as children.
As a young parent, I always believed children’s mind was like a clean slate. It had nothing written on it. It was the parents responsibility to teach them everything. What is right, what is wrong, what food they should eat, what games they should play, etc. If this was true, then the knowledge and sense of purpose in kids should grow as they age. But I see a reverse trend here again. I see younger kids more self aware, confident and purposeful than their older counterparts.
It almost feels like that our whole ecosystem has methodically and successfully robbed our children of their innate sense of purpose over their growing years. Sit like this. Eat like this. Do this. Walk like this. Read this book. Do not run, you can fall. Do not stare, it is bad manners. Do not watch TV, it will dull your mind. Do not hit even when you are angry. Do not cry even when you are sad. Do not jump in the water. Do not roll in the mud. Do not eat chocolates. Do not … do not… do not… Do not think on your own cause you don’t know how to.
Well, if this is what we have drilled into the innocent minds of our children, forcing them to fit into the seemingly perfect world, should we expect an answer when we ask, “What do you want to become when you grow up?” We forced them to forget everything that they were born with. We forced them to believe that their natural instincts were wrong. How then, can we expect them to look deep within themselves and find their answer?
If you have been a parent who has made all the choices for your children so far, do them a favor. Don’t ask your child this question, ever. Decide their career and life partner also for them. Also be around for them till they become 100, so you can continue to guide them and their children as they grow up. You have done a lot already, just do this for a little more time.