Just yesterday, there was this very sad case of an 11-year-old school girl committing suicide in Bangalore. It so happened that she used to write her feelings in a diary, which she hid in her cupboard. Her mother happened to read it. She had written about her special friendship to a boy in that diary. Her mother, very upset, then confronted her and worse went to her school the next day and spoke with her class teacher during the school hours. The girl all the time pleaded with her mother to let it go, but her mother brushed her aside. She also demanded to speak to the Principal who being busy could not meet her that day. The girl had scribbled a note to the boy in the class that day saying that her mother had read what she wrote, and the boy was petrified that now everyone would know.

 

The girl went home dejected and scared and committed suicide. Maybe she feared how the Principal would react or how she would face the taunts in her own class. No one knows. It is such a sad loss of life. Obviously, the parents would not in their wildest dreams have imagined that this would have such an extreme outcome. I felt so sad that the parent decided to go out and do this exercise publicly. Could she have not taken up the matter with the Class Teacher and Principal in private.  Don’t we say that praise in public and punish behind closed doors. The aim of any censure is to reform not to humiliate. An 11-year-old child is not a baby and should not be treated like one. Why can’t we as parents talk to our children? Is there something that we cannot resolve by talking?

 

Why must some parents cultivate an overpowering fear in their children, and we constantly read about massive pressure on kids to perform. It is not uncommon to read about children committing suicide when they fail or score low marks to escape their parents’ ire. Is there a deeper problem of trust and communication among parents and kids? There might be. But, it is an eye opener for all parents to tread cautiously when it comes to the tender feelings of kids!

 

PS: Pic courtesy Louisa Stokes

Comments

comments

40 Thoughts on “Kids need to be understood

  1. Sad, indeed :-/

  2. That is a very sad story. Sometimes parents just take it too far in their anxiety to do the right thing. Mother-daughter relationships are also volatile, especially in teenage. Thats why I try to engage my niece in conversation – encourage her to speak to me as she would with her friends. I wish parents would not put so much pressure on their kids. But then, I’m not a parent. So I guess it is easy for me to say this.

  3. I totally agree with you. Granted our initial reaction to this would be similar, still we would not go the principal or the teacher immediately.
    I mean why would one want to draw attention to this episode if it can be handled subtly.
    We would talk with the girl and advise her accordingly. It is sad that people in their hurry to set things right, do things that would make them regret later on.

  4. It is very sad that anyone should feel so humilated that they take this very permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    I kept a diary when I was a teenager – my mother often read it! So I took to putting things down in code … (thats I knew she read it, she asked how to translate the code!)

    Of course we want to know what is going on in our childrens lives but it is a thin line that divides us from becoming domineering and controlling – our kids will do lots of things we didn’t, they live in a much changed world from the one of our youth. We just have to be there for them when they need us. And believe me they will!!

  5. @Bart Yes it is.

    @Deepa I agree, sometimes we parents go too far in proving that we are right or in doing the right thing. And, parent-child relationships especially when the kids start growing older are fraught with altercations and differences of opinions. I wish too that the pressure on our kids are less, and I am a parent so I can say so :). Seriously, I try my best to be my kids good friend. My elder son is almost 9, and we see a huge streak of independent decision making in him already.

  6. @rama Can’t add to what you said, you said it perfectly. Sometimes small oversights or mistakes could make us repent but cannot reverse the consequences.

    @Jane And, you are so right. But have you noticed that often it is these smaller incidents which just spiral out of control into larger disasters.

    That was very smart of you. But, really we have to respect our kids’ privacy to a certain extent. I do agree with internet and dangerous content available easily, we do need to keep an eye on our kids’ activities, but do not stretch it so far that they feel stifled and suffocated. I would personally hate it if my parents had stooped around, and I would not do it to my children.

    And, you are so right. The yardsticks by which we judge our children have changed immensely since we were kids. It is high time that we became a little tolerant of the times we live in. I mostly try to remember how I felt at that age or what I would have wanted my parents to do when I was their age to guide me when I am in a dilemma.

  7. Hi Rachna,

    The Kids, I guess, are not all right.

    I think there’s a sea of change in India today. I know a friend whose marriage fell apart because he was trying to solve a new India problem (his wife and him worked very late hours) through his parents (the old India). Now divorced, he later told me that you cannot (n shud not) solve new India problems with old India wisdom….Imagine telling a well educated lady today to quit work, sit at home and look after the cooking while the husband can go to work. I don’t think many would happily respond to this but for the yester generation, this was almost a given.

    India is changing fast and that change is profoundest at the youth demography. We need 2 take this into consideration as parents, as employers, as colleagues….I guess it might take us another generation to get this. I’m quite sure that the incident u’ve mentioned here would never have occurred in the west…but I think India is slowly but surely getting there, where kids are given more privacy and freedom.

  8. We must also understand that the parents try to do so in the best interest of the children.Isnt it?

  9. that is very sad indeed. But I think most parents react that way, but here before going to the teacher of principal she should have tried advising her daughter perhaps help her understand. If only people tried resolving such issues with more care, incidents like these could be avoided.

  10. @R-A-J and you said it aptly. Often, we are stuck in our old time molds and expecting our spouses or kids to tow that line. My point is that many women still quit their jobs to look after kids, but only if they want to do it. Force does not work here. Marriage is a meeting point for two partners and no partner should enforce his/her views on the other. Our kids are growing up in a different world altogether, and as parents we must be aware of the new situations and adapt. Communication and empathy really help a lot. I agree that we are slowly understanding these changing realities and challenges when it comes to relationships.

    @BKChowla That is true. Parents think they know the best. But, it is not always true. That is why I say that don’t treat young kids as babies. They have feelings, opinions and rights and they deserve to be heard and not brushed aside. Mom or Dad knows best is not necessarily true.

  11. @Vijay True, most Indian parents would blow up, confront and take it with the school authorities. But, I only say that handle it with a little sensitivity bearing in mind the consequences like shame to the child. We face many such conflicts and challenges when raising children. Our approach should be to resolve not to escalate unhappy situations.

  12. @Rachna, this is sooo sad. I can relate with this child. my mom mm she would teach me about things which would make me uncomfortable. If there is something that i am embarassed about she would bring it up at family events. She would hold me back and i am 18 but she gives me no importance and treats me like 5. Sometimes it’s so bad that even I have suicidal thoughts, one time I even cut my hand. Parents need to respect their children and their privacy else like me.. there will be a certain resentment towards them… mmm even last night I had suicidal thoughts because my mom is doing so many things that are hurting me.

  13. Emmy My heart goes out to you. I find it really sad that your mum pulls up embarrassing situations at gatherings and makes you feel small. Some parents and people just tend to lack sensitivity. Why don’t you try having a conversation with her and telling her that you really dislike it when she treats you this way. If it does not seem to have any effect, speak to a relative or a friend who is close to her and talk to her. Do not think of suicide. Life is too precious. I am sure you have friends, and when you are down share it with them. Be strong! I hope your mother gets some sensible advice from somewhere.

  14. I have read somewhere that kids should be watched out by parents. I do respect tht. But then parents should hav the maturity to monitor

  15. GOD.. why di the mother do that , she should have talekdto the child rather then going all out like this ..

    Now she has lost her daughter toooo

    sadddddddddddddd

    Bikram’s

  16. So very sad ! What parents end up doing!

    You know that we have a pair of budgerigars and last weekend when they were fighting and screaming I was very upset and told Aashi that if they continue like this I will release them. Ofcourse it was spur of the moment remark. The whole day she sat near their cage, didn’t sleep, seemed to be upset. Fortunately the birds calmed down.

    Few days later I came across a note scribbled by her. She had written a note to GOD praying that her birds should stop fighting or else her mom will release them and this would hurt her no end and she will hate me for this forever. It was so earnest. It made me realise how much her birds mean to her and how our careless words affect our children. Ofcourse I have made amends by informing her that her birds are precious to me also.

    Parents with so many pressures of their own, their own set of values and beliefs are not always in tune with their child’s feelings. It is surely a tough task being a parent.

  17. ITs so very sad, didn’t the mother understand that such feelings are very natural??
    How will the mother be able to live now?

  18. indeed, the parents need to understand their children more..

  19. As a Mother of a 11 year old myslef, my heart just aches.

    It is such a tremendous loss.

    I am so sad Rachna 🙁

  20. It is a sad thing.The loss of a child is the end of life for a mother.
    But,we do not know the exact events that had happened.It would be unwise to blame the mother outright.A mother would only want the best of things to happen to her child.She might have had her apprehensions.It would be natural for her to go to the school to find out more details.And we do not know what exactly the girl had written in the letter and the kind of relationship she had with the boy.

    A study recently conducted in the city of Cochin showed that about 30% of girls go out and have some kind of relationship with boys including sex and drugs.Many young girls even go out with men and make money.When this kind of news reaches a mother,she has reasons to get panicky.Recently I read the story that a boy acted in love with a school girl and took her out to have sex and then gifted her to two of his friends.
    Aren’t these reasons enough for a mother to get panicky?.It is easy to blame someone after things go wrong.With the best of care,children these days are unpredictable.

  21. @Jon True. In these days of so many things available before an appropriate age of kids, it is necessary to be vigilant. Like you said, the maturity required to be around and to monitor yet not get stifling or intrusive is a tough act.

    @Bikram She must have done it in the heat of the moment. She must have not thought of the dire consequences.
    When issues are related to tender emotions and impressionable minds, it is such a tough line to tread.

    @Renu It is a tough task being a parent. You are right. We have so many issues and troubles of our own. Sometimes, we may say or do things unintentionally, after all we are human too. These can sometimes backfire. Sad, indeed.

  22. @bbsearchingself I don’t think that the mother paused to think about all these issues. She must be very upset and thought that she had to set things right. But, now she will be saddled with guilt for life. Feel sorry for her situation.

    @Tomz Yes, that is the toughest thing in parenting — enforce discipline with compassion.

    @NRIgirl I know, being a mother one can relate to the mother’s sorrow and the child’s helplessness too. Very sad.

  23. @dr. antony Children were always unpredictable, Doctor. I am sure my parents would have lamented the same way as I do now. And, you are right, we do not know what exactly had happened. I agree that most parents would have reacted like her. I would have been angry and confrontational too. But, I still feel that her way of interaction with the school authorities was insensitive and high handed. She should have taken it up in private not publicly. She really should have paid some heed to her daughter’s feelings too, wrong or right in her opinion.

  24. @Rachna believe me I have tried talking to her, and asking family to talk to her. She admitted that she does indeed try to keep my self confidence low. But the thing is I am fine… yes sometimes I get depressed and I think about suicide but I will never do it.. and soon I am going away from her and I know that what she does is only making me stronger. <3

  25. @Emmy I am happy that you are a strong young lady and that you know how to cope with adversity. We all have to face terrible situations in life, but the winners face them with strength. You are a winner!

  26. There was Bachis article abt it in TOI also…very sad unfortunate and scary…parents need to learn from this sad incident.

  27. Hi Rachna ..This was very sad .A parent needs to handle these subtle matters very consciously.I mean ,atleast owing to the entering teenage and changing hormonal signs iof the gal ,parent should have just spoken to her alone ,rather than creating a mere issue out of it.

  28. @Alka I think I missed that article by Bachi. You are right, there is a lesson in this for all of us.

    @raji I feel the same way. With teenage approaching and all else into play, it would be better to show some empathy and handle it privately.

  29. Sad that one incident in the girl’s life caused her to end her whole life. The parents could have tried and sorted it out, or should have sat down and had a decent conversation with her rather than announcing publicly as if the girl had done some crime.

    • True, Bhavya! Sometimes in the heat of the moment, parents does do not realize the importance of a calm conversation. Small incidents just blow out of proportion.

  30. Why did the parent even need to go to her school and talk to her teachers? If she didn’t like it, she could have had a talk with her daughter only. Of course, she was the mother and she wanted the best for her child but now nothing can be done about it. It’s sad. News of suicides are a sad thing and rightfully so, but learning about children ending their lives really fills one with sorrow.

    • I agree, Say Cheese! It breaks my heart to hear about children committing suicides about reasons that seem so trivial at times. If only, the parents were more sensitive or perceptive. If only…

  31. sheethalsusan on September 10, 2013 at 9:36 pm said:

    How terrible an innocent crush took her life! Parents could have been more understanding and if talked to her… she might have been still alive!

  32. How tragic. This was such an impulsive reaction from both the mother and child. But I am amazed at a 11 year old child taking such an extreme step. Times have changed so dramatically, it is so imperative for parents to understand their kids.

  33. subzeroricha on September 10, 2013 at 11:13 pm said:

    Rachna this is very very tragic… I have no idea how to react. I just commented on another post how all of us are stressing on remembering the parents but someone needs to highlight the point of their responsibility. And here we have your post…

    How I wish people could understand that things to a child seem very big and different there is a thin line to be tread upon…

    Richa

    • Richa, thanks for reading! How a child handles issues may be so different as compared to an adult handling the same. I think as parents we need to be really tuned in to our kid’s emotions.

  34. It is this fear rather than dialogue that leads to such tragic death. Parents must communicate effectively and remove the E from the Go.

    • You are right, Vishal! So many times parents just do not understand the pressures the a child is going through and keep heaping some of their own leading to disaster.

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