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Parenteen: Give your children leeway to grow

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

RETURNING from our holiday in the hills at Darjeeling and Gangtok, I encountered two girls who had me completely overawed.

Accompanied by their parents, the two vivacious sisters, barely out of their teens, appeared to be connoisseurs of adventure. As we began matching notes about the places we had managed to visit despite the heavy downpour, their eyes glistened with excitement. They narrated their escapades on their way to Changu Lake at an altitude of 12,400 ft, which we had given a miss following a terrible landslide.

They showed rare mobile videos of their cars going through a deluge of water falling from the hills and the treacherous terrains on way to the Nathula Pass. Weren't you all scared for your lives, I asked. "Not at all," replied the younger one, "it was total 'paisa-vasool' for us."

The two confided they were suckers for adventure holidays and managed to take three vacations a year along with their parents. Impressed by their zest for life, affable nature and their cool confidence in planning out each of their holidays with precision, I silently gave a thumbs-up to their parents too who gave their girls so much leeway to grow up with such gay abandon and follow their passions too.

Children often develop traits based on how they are treated in their growing up years. While everyone is born with an inherent temperament, one acquires the ability to conduct oneself amicably or counter adversities over time.

It's the surroundings, experiences and positive handling by parents and peers which shape the personalities. Parents are the main source of a child's self worth. How people value themselves, behave with others, perform at school, achieve at work and relate in marriage -- all stem from the strength of their self-image. That is to say, building a child's self-esteem is his passport to a lifetime of mental health and social happiness.

When we allow our children to be themselves, follow their passions and lead a zesty life (of course with suitable guidance), we are sure to bring up confident and convivial human beings with an indomitable will.

A friend's 20-year-old daughter, who studies in India while her parents are in Oman, is an epitome of personal strength and conviction. Even though her parents remain connected with her through the day, the youngster manages practically everything on her own -- hopping between cities, deciding on accommodations, booking tickets to even buying gifts for her house helps back home.

At the same time, I also have friends who are over protective about their children and hate to even let them cross the road on their own. The damage being done to their personality is often visible. They are likely to be more vulnerable to the challenges of life or become too judgmental of others with differing beliefs.

As for our teen, she too displays an incredible adventurous streak and hastens to try out every daunting activity on holidays -- from zip-lining to paragliding to intimidating rides in theme parks.

Interestingly, each time we give in to her quest, we appear to be breaking away from our own personal boundaries and notions set for children, especially girls. Like they say, we are only following our gut when it comes to parenting.

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