Looking at the current trend in urban centers, I feel parents have the biggest role in shaping the lives of their children. The way we bring up our children can certainly make a huge difference in how they behave when they grow up. Today, many of us have our own jobs to attend to in offices or businesses because of which we fail to give our children the amount of attention they need and deserve. What makes the matter worse is that those parents who do not go to work are mostly alcoholics and the children are literarily left on their own. Moreover, the divorce cases are very common in our country and this adds fuel to the pile of problems affecting the lives of our youth. I have seen that most of the children growing up with single parents are having behavioral problems probably because they firstly don’t get the required level of attention as their dad/mom has to focus on the job to support the family, and secondly, they get pampered as their dad/mom won’t mind giving them whatever they request because as a single parent, we always have a tendency to love our children too much that whatever they ask for, we can’t deny. In the process, they begin to find our weaknesses and start taking advantage of the situation.
It’s sad that the kind of general picture we get about youth today is not as beautiful and positive as it should be. Despite the constant efforts of the Royal Government of Bhutan and relevant stakeholders to address youth issues in the country, there has been a constant rise in the number of juvenile delinquencies in the society. Every time we hear and read about burglary cases, we find that youth are the culprits. Every time we hear or read about any murder, we find that most of the time, the culprits are youth. Every time we hear about gang fights and other crimes, we find that mostly they involve youth. So the question to ask ourselves as parents is “What is happening to our children and where are we going wrong? Where are they picking such trends from?” If we are to nurture and groom our children well, it must begin at home. I feel nobody else other than the parents have the capacity and right to correct their children right from the beginning. Schools also have an important role to play in guiding children onto the right path but this journey of life should begin from home only.
If all parents could effectively take care of their children especially during odd hours, I feel we would be able to save so many children from getting into unhealthy practices and behaviors. Whenever I hear young boys and girls walking up and down the road beside my house in the middle of the night, sometimes crying, sometimes quarrelling and sometimes dating, it makes me wonder what kind of parents/guardians do they live with. As parents, we must be able to always keep track of our children: where they are, what are they doing and what time they are coming home. The main problem I see here is the lack of parental attention and care. I was surprised when my wife told me the story of one of her fellow-trainees at Gangjung Driving Institute. The woman who is the mother of two teenage children (a son and a daughter) owns a shop and her husband is always on the move for business. The woman had told my wife that she always gets home at around 10:00 pm and she has to scan the entire neighborhood to find her children, bring them home and prepare and serve them dinner. My wife was told that both of her children don’t listen to her and they have become aggressive. It seems there had even been times when the daughter had disappeared for days, staying with friends without informing any of the parents. I feel if both the parents could attend their children properly, they could probably change their current way of life. Likewise, one of my cousins also tells us that she spoiled her children when she owned a shop. She has realized that due to her failure to give attention to her children when they needed it the most, her two sons got into so many problems: vandalism, gang fights and so on, that even landed one of them in jail for sometime. So whatever we do, we must never forget our children at home. I have heard that some parents are even leaving their children in video parlors and go away with friends only to come back several hours later to pick them up. This is a very sad development if it is true. If we do not take care of our own children, then nobody else will. If we find that our children are not listening to us, we must find alternative ways to dealing with them instead of leaving them on their own and neglecting them completely. Being respectful, mindful and softer with them would certainly help them open up with us and get closer with us. That would enable us to understand their concerns and needs better so that we can help them more effectively. The most important thing we need to remember is that we must have the time to listen to them and take their views so that they would feel they are also an important part of the family. They must be made to understand the consequences of their choices and actions, both for themselves and the entire family.
As a parent of three growing children, I am already beginning to worry about their future. In such a rapidly growing city like Thimphu, I and my wife know that it won’t be easy for us to bring up our children in a safe and healthy environment. But we have already started advising and guiding them how to choose their friends and how to behave at home, in the public and in the school. We have realized that this is the right time to correct and direct them since their brains are too soft to absorb whatever we tell them. Once they hit puberty and move into adolescence, it would be too late to correct their behaviors. No matter what, we will never be tired of reminding our children about how they should behave. My eldest son who will be studying in 4th grade from this academic year had told us last year that there were some boys in his class who stole money from their parents and shops. He had also told us how one of his classmates would puncture the tires of parked cars with a sharp needle. Such news made us even more worried and we asked him if he was involved in any of those mischievous acts and he said he was never part of it. We trusted him and we have advised him never to join those gang even if they invite him. We have explained why such things are bad and what kind of punishment will he get if caught. Seriously, we the parents must wake up to our full duty and get closer to the hearts of our children. Due to the daily hassles and bustles of modern urban life, it seems we are increasingly drifting away from our children and as a result, the gap between us is being widened. We must be able to balance our career and home life so that our children get enough time and attention. Giving birth to children alone does not make us parents. Providing them with a safe and healthy space to grow up and giving meaning to their life is the most sacred duty of any parent. On the other hand, children must also recognize the efforts put by their parents in trying to help them find their right future. They must respect whatever resources their parents put in place for them and must never indulge in any activity that would hurt their parents. Hence, the parent-youth relationship is a balanced affair based on mutual understanding and respect. I hope I and my wife would be able to keep our children on track as they grow up. God bless all parents and their children!