Let’s not leave behind a generation which is as much mentally crippled as we are

John Lennon, an English musician, singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a founder member of The Beatles, the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of popular music said “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”As the saying goes, do not educate your child to be rich, educate him to be happy so that when he grows up, he will realize the value of things not the price.

Ever wondered what we are teaching our children? More importantly, what about the systematic attacks on Childs emotional well-being and sense of self-worth instigated by the parents without realizing its fallouts? Parents unknowingly exhibit a pattern of behavior that attacks a child's emotional development.  These attacks include violent verbal onslaught, or simply put, chronic, excessive, aggressive and unreasonable demands that place expectations on children that are beyond their developmental capacity.

The violence of parents can manifest itself in many ways which can include verbal attacks, judgments, shame, blame, guilt, comparing, criticizing, teasing, name-calling, insulting, rejecting and evaluating children's behavior. We somehow can’t expect a child to grow into a better human being who has passed through the traumatic experiences of encountering criticism, isolation, punitive consequences, negativity, shame, blame or guilt. 

However the most damaging aspect of killing a child’s development pertains to the silent epidemic of emotional abuse which is generally overlooked. We unconsciously tend to blame our children for the countless conditions we themselves have created.

The most common “demand” by majority of the parents relate to expecting their children to sit quietly for an extended length of time without realizing that they just do not have the physical control of their bodies nor the coping skills to always manage listening to the requests to behave. This ultimately renders the parent to frustrating feeling of lack of compliance.

If we look at the pattern of statements we make every day to our children, the realization will obviously lead to the conclusion that there is something terribly wrong with our own mental state. The day starts with a typical judgment “you are acting like a baby”. For goodness sake, he/she is a baby. Then comes the next one; “you are not being nice”. Every wondered asking the kid how nice we are to him?

You are making me angry, you stupid trash, you constantly disappoint me, I can't trust you, you have no respect for me, get out of my face and the list goes on and on. If put in a similar position instead of the child; our journey to the lunatic center will be obvious outcome. But stop it, we are adults and we are always right.

The fallout of all this leads to child’s self-destruction, withdrawing from the people, making negative statements about himself, overly aggressive, shy or passive, overly demanding, overly compliant, cruel to others or delayed mental, physical and emotional development.

Lastly, killing creativity is the worst abuse which can be done to a child. We tend to impose our own set of established set patterns and mindsets. We act like worst kind of dictators. You will become a doctor. You will become an Engineer. Monetary considerations are supreme. Writer? No way. Artist? Have you ever thought about the moral values of our forefather? You will have to step over our dead body to become one. The poor child can’t even say, when?

Failure to provide the emotional nurturing, love, support or guidance necessary for a child's psychological growth and development can lead to grave consequences which can severely affect healthy development of brain functions. Let’s not leave behind a generation which is as much mentally crippled as we are. Teach them to find happiness in whatever way they want to conduct their lives. Looking inwards first is the starting point.

The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He is life member of the Pakistan Engineering Council and senior international editor for IT Insight Magazine. He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living In The Grave and several research papers.