As adults working from home for about a year, it is frustrating. Kids are frustrated that they cannot go to school. But I think the one group that has been most affected, with everything being online, are our teenage children - children in 10th and 12th standards. The teenagers cannot meet their friends. Once in a way, when they do manage to meet some friends they have a great time. When they return home, they become upset at the thought of all that they are missing. They rue the fact that meetings with friends are just occasional especially when at that stage, their friends mean the world to them.
Teenage girls, especially ones who are good looking, face abuse and bullying online. That makes her them feel even more frustrated, upset and depressed. In fact, quite a few teenagers have suicidal thoughts. This is not surprising to me. It comes as a shock to their parents when they discover by chance. What can we do to help them? Parenting in the best of times especially parenting a teenage child is never an easy job. Some try to be friends so that the children will open up.
Your children have friends both online and offline. They need a parent. At the same time, they don’t need a parent who is always shouting instructions, ‘Do this, don’t do that, study all the time.’ They need a parent who can empathise and understand what they are feeling, who can show the children that they understand. This is tricky in the best of times. When a child says, ‘Damn it. I don’t want to study so much', you cannot give a lecture on the value of education. You need to empathise with the child’s feeling of helplessness and difficulty to cope.
Most kids understand the value of education and will do what is necessary. But can the parents listen, show understanding and take steps to be there for the child? Seems like an additional load. But if done, both parents and children will grow stronger and have deeper bonds, which is what most parents want anyway.
(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at email@example.com)