Things get complicated when parents decide to add their two bits worth. A friend and mother-of-two likes to (somewhat incorrectly) call this ‘the 3 Idiots syndrome’. “It’s a typically middle class thing to do — push your kids into B-schools and expect them to earn eight-figure salaries at the end of their education.”
Sadia Raval agrees. Parental pressures aren’t easy to fight off she says and these very pressures drive young children up against the wall. “Very often, taking up a stream (of education) you don’t like results in a great deal of confusion and disillusionment. There are cases when kids manage to get into IITs but sooner rather than later realise their hearts are not into it; they fare poorly in their tests; disillusionment sets in and that leads to demotivation and loss of self esteem. It’s a vicious circle.”
These kinds of parental pressures, Raval says, exist at all levels often starting when the child is still in school.
When I asked Parul Sharma how early these pressures really start, she chuckles, “Pretty early on in life.”
Sharma’s book Bringing up Vasu: That First Year, offers a tongue-in-cheek view of a first-time mother’s attempts to give her son ‘everything that is best for him’. And while the situations described in it seem almost farcical in nature, the protagonist’s attempts to get her son into the best pre-school or make available the best that is there for him in the market does touch a chord.
“There is a certain type of parent that tries to push on its child his/her ambitions and there are others like Mira (her protagonist) whose intentions are well-placed and driven with the sole purpose of getting the best for her child. Does that justify the pressures on the kids? I don’t think so,” she says.
Raval continues, “Parents often push their children into tuitions and extra classes in the hope that they turn out to be superstars.”
The results however are far from desirable.
“There is so much on their plate that many students simply cannot cope with it. I have seen fairly bright students breaking down and giving up,” Raval says adding that the number of children breaking down just before Class 10 and 12 exams has gone up drastically in the last few years.”