The mothers' competition

Archana is a harried mom these days. What with teaching her son ‘shlokas’ for a competition and making preparations for the dance competition, she is not fancying the fancy dress competition scheduled for later. Her five-year-old, of course, would rather play with the computer as she downloads the music and refuses to learn the steps that she has painstakingly choreographed. Ask her why she bothers so much and she says “how can I be laid back? Because my vegetable carving and model of the Vidhana Soudha were the best last year, everybody expects me to do well in other things too”.

Mothers are reliving their school days. The homework is more for the moms than the kids. Be it tests, assignments or projects these hands-on moms outdo each other. (A majority of dads are thankfully not into this fierce competition. Their role being restricted to attending PT meetings and guiding the children in studies.)

Shouldn’t vegetable carving be all about teaching the child the safe use of knives, the importance of vegetables in diet and the joys of eating raw veggies rather than getting a ‘hands off’ gourd crocodile that is let to rot on the school shelf? Should not model-making be more about getting the child to learn about relative size and to get him to innovatively use available material rather than the mother ‘outsourcing’ the task to professional model-makers and driving kilometres just to get that perfect and prize winning model?

The assembly of moms in front of schools discusses the test portions, which senior’s question papers to be photocopied or who is a good/bad teacher threadbare. Listening to them you wonder whether the children are in primary or middle class or whether they are taking some other exam like the CAT or IAS and also wonder what impression the child develops of the teachers being thus analysed.

What do the children learn in the process? That it is okay to be fiercely competitive, to withhold information and that it is alright to speak about people behind their backs.

Looking back, didn’t most of us do well in school without this excessive participation of parents? We went to school ourselves, did the homework on our own, prepared our projects (without the help of Google) and chose our own careers. Shouldn’t education be about allowing the child to be independent in thought and action? Shouldn’t education be about teaching the child to share? No one will deny that parents play a very important role in their children’s education, but moms these days are so busy teaching the children academics that important social and survivals skills go untaught.

As parents we play important roles in moulding our children’s character. Rather than focus exclusively on homework, competitions and test grades, we would do well to think of their overall development.

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