Over the years, I have been counselling parents and young people who are facing all kinds of issues: feeling overwhelmed, feeling lost, feeling despaired, feeling like giving up……. These are not due to the parents' inept or incapacities. They are not at fault! For they do try very very hard to be good parents to their children whom they have much hope for. And the young people try very hard to make their parents proud of them.
But the ugly truth is, we are living in an age that has all kinds of scientific and technological advancements, but very little humanistic development. Our education system puts enormous emphasis on examination achievements but little emphasis on character building and how to be better human beings. Everyone is pressured to produce tangible results but no one cares about the quality of living – interpersonal relationships, how to communicate efficiently, how to develop good values and live by them, how to care about oneself and others so that the world is a better place for all……so if the education institutions are not doing it, who will?
Parents today are trapped in a lose-lose situation: they lose their children to institutionalised learning and they lose themselves to institutionalised bodies and corporations. And in the end, mothers especially, feel helpless and defeated when all kinds of issues surface amidst all the crazy stress and meaningless pursuits.
Raising a family in today's world is a highly complexed and perplexing responsibility. Gone are the days when children are free to roam the world and seek things out for themselves. Time stood still for the unhurried child taking his time to watch the sunset from atop a climbing structure at the playground, or observing worker ants build a nest in the garden, or catching spiders with friends just for fun. Today, time is of essence and it is in short supply for the child who is hurried and rushed to grow up too fast too soon. The competition has increased many folds and the winner takes all, the losers will fall. What does all this do to our children?
Not very good I'm afraid. Thousands of children and adults are found to be suffering from mental health issues, and other health issues are also on the rise. The relentless bombardment of fragmented information via the social media especially, is found to have enormous impact on our children's developing brains, which in turn affects their emotional development. The less we connect with other humans, the less human we become. So it won't be surprising that in the years to come, humans will be more robotic and robots more human!
What can we do? I have these suggestions:
Stop the crazy busy-ness (even if for awhile). Stop following what others are doing. Stop following the trends. Stop listening to well-meaning but totally delusional advice. Stop the monkey mind from darting from here to there. Stop the worried mind from worrying needlessly no end. Stop the anxious mind from fearing the unknown. Stop the chattering mind that drowns out your voice. Just stop.
Breathe in. Relax your mind. Breathe out. Exhale the stress. Breathe in. Reclaim your self. Breathe out. Expel the bad. Take a walk in the park. Breathe in the fresh air. Go for a run. Feel your breath go faster. Feel your body breaking out in sweat. Feel the sensation of being alive!
Write down what you really want. Not the material possessions, but your inner desires to be. Wanting to be somebody or to do something, but you're too afraid to do so. Write down your fears, your anxieties, your worries. Write down your dreams, your passions, your desires. Writing can make you see yourself more clearly. You can also rewrite your future by changing your present state of mind. Write off the negative thoughts!
Talk about it. Talk about what you really like and what you really want to do with your life. Talk about the possibilities. Talk about your dreams. Talk about your strategies to get there. Talk about the obstacles you are facing. Just let it all out. (But do select a good candidate to listen to you, because talking to the wrong person could spell disaster!).
When you have decided on your point of action, just do! Start slowly step by step. Like training for a marathon, you got to train body to work with your mind. Too much too soon, and you might get permanently injured. Too little too long, and you might just give it up.
Do it with like-minded friends. They do exist. You just got to find them!
Last but not least, reclaim your family. No matter what happens, you only have one another. Do not let anyone or anything rob you of your precious family time together. It will be a challenging task indeed. Lock up all electronic devices while you spend your devise-less time together! Your child needs your undivided attention. So does your spouse.
Read the books who have always wanted to read.
Write the book you have always wanted to write.
Play an instrument you have always wanted to learn.
Learning is no longer confined to childhood. It is lifelong! When we continue to learn as adults, we will continue to grow mentally and spiritually. When we continue to learn, we will find our way back to our original self.
Unless you're a cat. In which case you can sleep all day 😉