Wednesday, February 21, 2018

We must be better role models to our children

As the world celebrated another Mother’s Day, somewhere in the island of Trinidad, a mother grieves over the loss of her 13-year-old son, a young boy who committed suicide a week ago. A young boy, who was about to start a new phase of life and his secon­dary years of education. A young boy who is no longer with us, perhaps due to the stresses of his early years of education.

What stress, you ask, can such a young boy encounter?

There was a time when school days were the best days of your life. That must have been when homework didn’t start until secon­dary school—not at age four, as it does now.

And when infants commenced their school life at age five—not at age four and three and two, as they do now.

And when eight O-Levels at Grade C were enough of an achievement—not ten A* GCSEs, as it is now.

My school days are long behind me, but memories of my children’s constant homework, projects and tests, coupled with the hysteria of stressed parents and teachers, private tutors and multiple school clubs during their primary years has had me reflecting on my tranquil infant days with fondness. If this is the state and condition at primary level, then what is to be imagined at secondary and tertiary levels of our children’s lives?

Children ultimately succeed because of who they are and as a result of good morals and values instilled in them, not because of how many school clubs they manage to cram in, how many tutor sessions they have a week or how many A*s they accrue.

Parental and school-inflicted pressure has resulted in more childhood mental health issues, such as acute anxiety and depression, than ever before.

These children have no time—no time to enjoy being children, no quality family time, no time to just sit about and relax.

When I wrote the Common Entrance examination many years ago, there were no after-school lessons or Saturday classes/lessons or stress-related tensions from paren­ts or teachers. I remember playing cricket on the road after school, riding my bike, reading my story books.

Where are our children of today? What has happened to children today?

I am no psychologist, but it is not hard to see the damage that can be caused by the stresses affiliated with our children today and what we perceive to be “success”, and we can easily summarise that these days may definitely not be the best days of our children’s lives.

We, as parents, need to be parents. We need to instil and foster love and good conduct into our children’s lives. We as parents need to recognise true success does not go by the name “SAGHS” or “Naps” or “Prez”, but true success lies in our being role models of excellent character to our children and in the inculcating of excellent conduct into the lives of our children.

We, as parents need to teach our children mothers and fathers are not recognised and celebrated once a year, but rather year-round; and not via a material show of gifts, but through respect, love and obedience. Likewise, children are not celebrated once a year or only upon their material achievements, but also daily, via love, respect and training.

Let us ponder what we are instilling into our children’s lives.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the young Devindra Boodoo.

Nazima Mohammed-Khan

Rashadi Foundation