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Dear Madam

I have a daughter who is doing her BCA, and a son who is in Class 7.  My son was only five months old when I lost my husband. I have a problem with my son. He has been losing interest in studies for the past three years. He keeps finding excuses when I ask him to read his lessons. He only writes notes and passes his time. Many times, he does not do his homework.  He has failed in most of the subjects in his last test due to this. I send him for tuitions. But he is only interested in singing and passing his time joking and playing outdoor games or on the computer. I also have a problem with his behaviour as he does not answer people properly and clearly. He doesn’t listen to any of my instructions, or those of my family. I stay in a joint family, with my in-laws. He doesn’t seem to mind that he has failed.  Even when I take him to task I find no change in him. I am unable to control him, hence I request your suggestions.

Vijaya

Dear Vijaya

You say you are unable to control your son, and my feeling is that that may be where your difficulty originates from. You don’t need to ‘control’ your son. You need to guide him and motivate him to achieve his potential. Your son is not like a forest fire that needs to be controlled and contained. He is a lamp that needs to be lit, and the oil needs to be poured in every time the light is fading out. Or, he is a fire that needs to be ignited and stoked to keep it lit.

It must be hard on you to be a single parent with two children, and I can understand that this may be having its own set of challenges and pressures. Living with your in-laws, while it may have its advantages, may also be pressurising you to ‘perform’ as a ‘good mother’. Your anxiety about this, and what others will say about you, and your parenting, if your son does not perform well, may be something that is driving you to somehow control your son. I am just suggesting these as possibilities and if you don’t agree with my observations, please feel free to disregard them. However, if you feel that, at a subconscious level, that is what may be happening, then it is important that you become aware of these dynamics so that you can manage them. Get help from a counsellor or a trusted friend, if this is the case, because you need to deal with your anxiety. Only then, will you be able to appreciate your children’s strengths and not view them as problems. I would like to remind you of an oft-repeated piece by Kahlil Gibran:

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Having said that, it is possible that your son currently does not feel that studying is his responsibility, because he may be seeing it as something you want him to do, with no benefit for him. Also, he may have different aspirations from the ones you have for him. And, he is at the adolescent age where he will be trying to carve out his own identity.
During this stage of life, it is natural for him to withdraw from adults, identify more with his peers, be defiant, and answer and do as he pleases. I think if you recognise these changes, and understand that they are a normal part of growing up, then they will be less threatening to you. That is not to say that you don’t need to define limits and set rules. You need to do all that, but the techniques that would have worked with him as a child, will not work with him now.

Communication, nonjudgmental acceptance and understanding are really the key to reaching him. Hope this helps.

Dear Madam,

I am studying in 1st PUC. I have taken up Science, PCMB. I took Biology because I used to score well in it till my 10th, but now I find it difficult. I want to become a doctor but I highly doubt if I can achieve my goal. I am not very interested or dedicated towards studies. I am always in search of something new and enjoyable; I would prefer such an occupation. I would like to be a journalist. I want to take up singing and many other activities. But, I do not know what I have to stick on to. I still have hopes that I can get into Medicine but my parents don’t. They think it’s high time I think about something else.

I feel depressed right now, and I feel that I won’t be able to achieve anything. I will be highly obliged if you refer any good career counsellor for me. Can you also tell me what I should do about my career?

Anna

Dear Anna

The best career for anyone is one in which you have a genuine interest and which plays
to your strengths. I want to think about your reasons for wanting to become a doctor.

From whatever you have told me in your email, you do not like Biology, and you are not really interested and dedicated to studying. I don’t want to discourage you, but if you don’t like Biology, then it will be torturous for you to study Medicine for 8 to 10 years, maybe more. Besides, Medicine will require studying and dedication and long hours of pouring over your books. So, while you feel discouraged that your parents feel you can’t do it, they may be recognising your interests and trying to steer you towards something that you may enjoy more. You may end up thanking them for their foresight in the future.
At least they are not pressurising you to do something that you feel you are not good at, or interested in. It will be a good idea for you to consult a career counsellor to help you settle this dilemma, but since I don’t know where you are located, I will not be able to recommend anyone.

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