Monday, August 20, 2012

Whose dreams?

The world stands in judgement of mothers far more than it judges fathers. Perhaps the differential stems from the order of nature. In the animal as well as the human world, mothers remain the primary incubators and nurturers. Their bodies, emotions, thoughts are invested to a greater degree and in more immediate ways. Motherhood transforms their lives in a far more essential manner than it changes a father’s daily routine. Of course, there are demands on him to provide and protect but the degree….it is a matter of degree….

And then along comes the judging, following either of the two trajectories. If their children mess up, the Moms did not guide enough and should their kids shine, they are living their dreams through the children. I have never been able to make up my mind on which of the two views is more unfair.

For the sake of argument, let’s base the unfairness on outcomes. In other words, let’s presume that criticism when kids go tangential would be more acceptable than judging Mothers whose sons and daughters end up authentically autonomous. Why would people accuse these proud mothers of fulfilling their personal ambitions through their children?

It is true that a sizable animal population does not care for their offspring once they have been given birth; some species are born independent but the female cobra, mammals and birds care for their young until they are able to strike out on their own. This nurture ensures the survival of the species. It is owed by one generation to the other. I would go so far as to call it moral parenthood.

The level of nurturing would rise with every step up the biological kingdom. At the sophisticated stage of mankind, parental responsibilities ought to go far beyond the basic provision of food, clothes and shelter. In a complex and conflict ridden world, who else but the parents will primarily ensure the right software programming in their children’s hearts, minds and souls that will keep them safe and growing in the world outside? Granted that parents make mistakes but so long as there is love and desire for the young’s welfare, it all pretty much falls in place.

Recognizing and acknowledging and showing the kids that they are worthy of harbouring a dream is step number one. Next comes the path to realizing those ambitions. With so much information clutter swirling in their spaces, a little bit of filtering does no harm, it is in fact critical for some clarity and focus. It is the modern parents’ responsibility to be well informed and socially savvy enough to be able to function as a sounding board for their children. They are certainly not stoking their own embers by facilitating the path ahead for their young.

I would challenge anyone who says it is all right to leave the children to figure it all out for themselves today. These are tough times. Never has a generation been so far out and so in need of an anchor as this one. It would be too dangerous a waste to leave them without a moral compass and a clearly outlined work ethic they can use to climb a ladder they have defined for themselves.

Modern parents cannot use the excuse their own parents did viz. that they knew no better. It is not about living one’s dreams through the offspring. It is about placing your own dreams on hold until you have brought up your kids to nurture theirs and be well on their path to realizing them.

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