Parents, Children and Hush-Hush Culture

By Anam Mukhtar

PARENTHOOD is never easy, with most parents in Kashmir using the same plan of action as was passed on to them. Kashmir seems all the more rooted in the prude and retributive outlook on how parents should handle their children. This paves the way for children to establish unwanted barriers between their parents and themselves with the fear of punishment.

This creates a very dangerous no-talk zone between children and parents. The scary transition of children from a life of innocence into the challenges of adolescence needs a lot of guidance — but our kids find themselves alone.

We see that parents lay out certain rules that they want their children to abide by without any justification for doing so. This hinders a child from thoroughly understanding the impact of an action. As a result, they aim to hide things rather than not indulging in them. More than 600,000 youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir are drug addicts owing to the lack of preventive measures in the Union Territory. We do not know what drives youngsters to drug abuse. However, if conversation was open and friendly between parents and children, it would have saved a lot of children from resorting to this momentary high to evade a stress they can’t navigate. The growing HIV cases in Kashmir are also increasing and doctors have already bugled the alarms calling it the next big crisis that our society is going to face.

Parents need to understand that children are stepping into this world of newness with many questions in mind. Not talking about some realities that children and adolescents are confronted with doesn’t make them absent. Like it or not, your children know that people get into relationships, they may even be in one, they may have adolescent attractions and worse still, they may have been lured into compromising content that is life altering.

It makes no sense having silence around this issues. Take your wise call for your children. However, help them navigate these. If there’s fear, there will be no honesty. Chances are great that your children end up in a crisis they have no wisdom to address. Adolescent relationships can lead one into some adult crisis. If you don’t let your children be open to you, how can you protect your children?

Doing something bad for the first time for the sake of knowing what it means is horrific. But children are not to blame because they’ll keep seeking answers for what they were essentially to know from their parents. A young person is impressionable and can be lured to do things that they think give them a feeling of being an adult. Instead of letting all the hell loose on them when they do happen to be involved in relationships, we can walk them through with a reality check and allow them the space to reflect rather than forcing them to quit out of fear rather than understanding. Remember, force is never a suitable means to terminate an action because it isn't sought from the point of logic.

Youngsters, especially young girls, often face sexual harassment in public spaces. They have no space to share it with their parents and guardians as this would amount to them losing access to public life freely. Additionally, trivial teenage matters may escalate into sexual offences. Often young adult children hide these instances even when they’re devastating. They fear that they will be reprimanded for getting into trouble and end up landing in more trouble. You can expect your children to have certain values and boundaries. But they will not always have the capacity to uphold these, when so young. It is best to always keep open the lines of communication and help them uphold these values more wisely.

You can't handle a situation without first being taken into confidence by your children. The biggest milestone is reached when kids confide in you, telling you how their day was and what all wasn't that rosy. However, Kashmiri parents take children clearing the air with them as a sign of boldness which signifies them wavering off their track. It is okay for parents to want their children not to do bad things but for them to know that it’s bad out of the blue is pure ignorance. Nowadays, children have a higher scope of landing into undesirable situations than before because of the increased access. Thus, more responsibility for parents to keep everything in balance.

You can’t give your children the phone and not expect them to tour the parts of the internet which are not children friendly. What you are kept away from is what you get attracted to know more about. Instead of avoiding giving them undeniable access, you can make them understand the ills of practice with reason. They won’t look at you differently, nor will they think any less of you. In fact, they are more likely to look up to you for moral guidance. The problem with parents in Kashmir is that they want distance from their children’s minds and yet want everything to do with their lives. We need to come to an agreement with what we want, which is a child’s benefit and then see if our actions are moving closer or retracting from it.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer 

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