Dear Parents, Students & Teachers
The aspirations and ambitions of man exhilarate with the dawn of a new period in history when old meets new with the inquisitiveness of a small child; when future is wrapped up in a bundle of mystery and wonder and when we stand on the threshold of a new beginning.
Every new beginning brings in its fold a new set of worries, problems which may ultimately cause stress in life. It will not be an exaggeration to call stress the synonym of life these days.
Stress is like a tightly coiled spring and affects us all irrespective of age or gender. It provokes a deeper response to life and generally signals the changes we need to make. Short term stress makes life more challenging and meaningful which directs and motivates a person to find out solutions of the problem and as a result person becomes happy and confident and starts having optimistic views in life. Confident persons develop the capabilities to fight with the problems.
Constant and continuous stress in life makes life miserable. Small problems not tackled on time create worries, tension, hypertension, stress, depression and ultimately spoil the family. Stress is a set of problems that we don’t feel that we can solve or, do something effective to handle.
Parental stress is an integral part of every school-going child’s parents as much as of the teachers and principals of the schools in which they study. 30 – 40 years back we never heard or saw any parents under heavy stress on account of their wards. We can’t say that stress was not at all there at that time. It was there but it was shared amongst all the members of joint family. Grandparents were big source of inspiration, motivation, help and relaxation. They used to take care of their children and their grandchildren as well. In the absence of the parents, grandchildren used to share views, thoughts, problems with their grandparents and never felt the need of peer groups. These days children when go back home, they have to unlock the door, eat the cooked food on their own and then start talking to their peer group members on phone. This may not be true for all but I firmly believe that joint family system was much better as compared to today’s nuclear family system. Jokes apart this will solve the problems of Government of India to spend money on old age homes.
Mothers are more prone to it and often fall a prey to depression and psychosomatic problems due to their attitude. I personally feel that we can’t generalize parental stress. Parents living in rural background may be more worried about securing services for their children, about securing services of school and the problems of adjustment of their child in the atmosphere of the school. Again the opinion of the father and mother may vary about sending the child to school. Ultimately, it is the mother who has to bear the brunt of this discrepancy in views. Hence the type and level of stress is determined by the rural and urban background also. There are many households in both rural and urban India which have been torn apart in strife due to the stress caused by school going children.
In rural areas both the parents, in majority, are not highly educated and the standard of schooling is not upto the mark. In most of the village schools in India, infrastructure is not adequate; some are without building, some are without teachers; if teachers are there then they are not up-to-date and also lack in initiatives and sincerity towards the noble profession of teaching. This becomes the main cause of worries to the parents of rural areas.
In urban areas parents, comparatively, are more educated but either both are working or father is working for longer hours of duration to earn more money to match the standard of living in the society in which he lives.
In case the mother is also working, then the problem becomes acute in nature as she too is not in a position to give proper time to her kids and such students are brought up by servants or maids. Such parents do not have time for their children. We all have seen and heard in TV and newspapers about how they handle kids and such children are brought up with psychological disorders. This becomes the cause of tension to the parents.
On the other hand where the mother is not working, there she has to bear stress on two fronts. First due to the poor financial condition of the family and second is about the proper school education and proper up bringing of her ward.
CAUSES FOR PARENTAL STRESS
1. Academic performance of the child and level of expectation from him differ.
Parents over look this psychological fact that children are born with individual differences. Potential and caliber of two children is not same. Parents don’t take a realistic view of the potential and capabilities of their children e.g. pressurize the child to prepare for the IIT whereas the child struggles hard to pass even XII board examination. They forget that every person has unique problems, unique set of abilities to solve them. No two children can be mentally alike.
They impose their unfulfilled dreams on their children and make them their tools for their self-gratification. Live under the myth that their child must have inherited their intelligence if they / father / mother had been intelligent students. Wrong and imposed choice of subjects in case of senior students without taking into consideration their child’s taste.
2. Comparison with other families and their children:
This kind of comparison is becoming more common these days and taking place in day to day life in all aspects be it the marks of the children, their participation in any activity, so-much so that the model of mobile or motor cycle also matter a lot. Parents relate their social status and prestige with the performance and achievements of their children.
3. Attitude of the student towards parents: (Impact of media, peer group effect)
What causes maximum stress to the parents is the behavioural pattern of their children. Some children become very aggressive and disrespectful towards their parents and tend to ignore them. Majority of students these days disobeys their parents, indulge in arguments with them on various issues. It may be due to media impact or impact of some of the members of their peer group from very rich families, and as a result are not able to focus on self studies. Educationists have found that it is not only aggressiveness but many a time the child withdraws to his own cocoon and shuns any type of interaction with them and rather feels happy outside. But no communication or less communication or dialogues will aggravate the problem.
4. Difference in economic and social status:
Society everywhere comprises people from various backgrounds. Many times children from service class or from economically weaker sections make their parents’ lives hell because of their financial demands as they want to emulate the lifestyle of their friends from the well off families. The parents are overstressed by the demands of their children.
5. Non – availability of good schools:
Good schools and good schooling of their children matter in everyone’s life. But if parents are not able to afford a good school for their ward, they should not take it to heart, rather try to find the other best alternative best environment at home and best students can show wonders anywhere. On teaching, psychologically, they are motivated to work hard with all sincerity.
6.Activities of the child in the peer group:
It is very often noticed that the activities of children in the school are very unnerving for the parents. They may be in the form of non-compliance with the school rules, missing the homework, bullying in the class or fighting with other children. In many cases, especially in the case of teenagers, parents get complaints against their children about the use of foul language, thefts, overspeeding and too much involvement in personal relational ships under the influence of their peers.
7. Tuition mania:
It has become more a fashion today as well as symbol of status to have tutor for children right from nursery. In my opinion, this keeps a child away from home and family. Tuition shops are mushrooming and taking advantages of parents’ attitude. Believe it or not, no third person other than parents and school teachers, will be more concerned about the student. During these tuition hours, the children may have some bad exposure and impact which goes against the normal family norms and may become the cause of stress in the family.
8. Non – interactive attitude of the schools towards parents:
Not very many schools entertain interaction properly in a planned manner. This is another faceless factor responsible for parental stress. Parents are not able to talk to the teachers or Principals of so called highly prestigious schools. They are not given proper time for interaction and sharing their problem related to their wards is not entertained properly. They are told most of the time that teachers are not free; Principal is busy and hence go back with disappointment. Humiliation of parents by school teachers due to their wards’ misconduct. If their ward has done something wrong in the school they are scolded and blamed badly as if the parents have told their children to indulge in unwarranted activities.
Sociologists, psychologists and educationists have been making incessant efforts to minimize the stress of parents but with changing times the parents have to do introspection too. Since, there are very few support organizations in India, so School and Parents have to make concerted efforts in this direction.
SOME OF THE TESTED REMEDIES ARE:
1. Guiding parents for self analysis and introspection
Parents must collect their thoughts and try to calm down. They should think:
- whether they are expecting too much from their children.
- whether they can let the children have their own way sometime.
- whether they are giving some breathing space to their children or always expecting them to behave like adults.
2. Look for support within family
- Parents should discuss the problems and support or take support from spouse.
- Parents should adopt love and affection and try to win the confidence of their children by giving up coercion.
- Parents should try to maintain the inborn sense of wonder in their children.
3. Parents should be available for their children. Jesse Jackson once said, “Your children need your presence more than your presents.” This one gesture can solve fifty percent problems and reduce stress.
4. Parents should watch their own life and behaviour so that children can emulate them. C. B. Kelland writes at one place, “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
5. Parents must interact with teachers as interaction with teachers, atleast on Parent-Teacher meeting days gets them the preliminary information’s about the ward, class room behaviours & activities.
6. Parents must interact with peer group of children to know about their ward’s weaknesses and strengths in order to bring in a change in the behaviour of their wards.
Parents and teachers must always remember a popular saying which goes – ‘A stitch in time saves nine’.
(K. C. Pandey)