Focus on your dreams

Ask your counsellor

Dear Madam,

I am a professor (PhD in Pharmacy) and my husband is an engineer (Mechanical). My son is doing Engineering from a reputed college but he is not doing well. He has already lost two years and is still in the first year. He was not good at studies while in school also and he got only 50% for PUC. We put him to Engineering thinking that somehow he will manage. But he has become disinterested in studies now and says he wants to go for modeling and enter film industry. He is good looking and tall. So he is getting the confidence as all his friends say he can become a hero. Since I am in the education field since 25 years, I feel bad about him dropping studies. What do you suggest? Because of this I have health issues also. Please advice.
A concerned mother

Dear Mom,

As parents, we have to learn to let children live their dreams, not ours. We have to be able to separate our issues and concerns from those of our children. We have to be able to address our anxieties and disappointments for ourselves, and not pass them onto our children. Ultimately all parents want their children to be happy and do well, but the mistake we make is we feel that the path we suggest/know/want is the only way to be happy and do well.

We have to learn to watch while our children make mistakes, and then recover from the process, in their journey towards their goals and dreams.

I understand that you are an educationist and both you and your husband are well educated. You would have liked the same for your child, because that is the only proven way for you towards success and happiness. However, if you are able to separate your life’s journey from his, you will let him embark on his journey with confidence. His desired journey is not ‘wrong’ - it is just different from the one you would have chosen either for yourself, or for him.

Also it would be helpful to remember that his choice of goals and paths is not a measure of whether you have been a ‘good enough’ or ‘successful’ parent, or not. Often we are concerned about what society will say about me as a parent if my child chooses this path. Society will only reflect back to you, what you feel about it. If you are comfortable with it, you will not allow what anyone says to impact you.

Ultimately being in a career in which he is not interested, or not able to do well, for whatever reasons, is not the path to happiness for anyone. Do you want him to blame you for his lack of success in his career all his life, or do you want him to take ownership and responsibility for his life and do what he believes will make him happy?

We have to accept that our children, whom we love with all our heart, may make choices that are different from ones we would have made, and that they may even fail in some of those choices, but that is their journey of life, which will teach them lessons along the way. We must just remember to still love them as best we can.

Dear Madam,

I am a secondPUC Science student. I had no dreams till Class X, but suddenly there was a lot of pressure on me about studies by my family as they wanted me to work hard. From Class V to IX, I was just a lazy boy - I did not complete my notes,and was a dull student in my class. As time passed by, all my family members began to make fun of me. They used to say I was useless and wanted me to work in garages, so I was very upset. From then onwards I started studying. For SSLC, I just studied for four months and was able to score 68%. All my family members were shocked to hear that I had passed SSLC with 68%. My father himself had doubts about it. That night, I sat and thought about whether to opt for Science or Commerce. I decided on Science and worked hard day and night. I work a lot but am unable to score well. Now I am in the second year. Now there is another problem about the entrance exams this year - It will be ISEET. I take coaching from a reputed lecturer in my city. I am interested in Physics, for which I scored 89% in the first year annual examination. There is a relative of mine who finished his BSc in Nautical Science and today he is a captain who earns Rs 14 lakhs per month. But I am a back bencher.


Dear Abdul,
I notice from your letter that despite what others around you say about you, if you set your mind to do something, you do it. Even though you did not do academically well till Class IX, because you did not focus on it and were ‘lazy’, once you decided to work you did so well that people around you were surprised by the results. You need to focused on doing what you like to do, and putting in your best effort to achieve what you want to achieve. This is not about what others want of you, or what others say about you - this is about you, your dreams, your life, and what you want to make of it. Don’t let others’ judgements of you define you. Do an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses, your dreams, the opportunities available to you, and the threats that may stop you. By going through this process, get to know yourself better, and let that define you.

Labels that are given to us in childhood by adults around us, have a nasty way of sticking to us and appearing to be the truth. We often carry that baggage along for the rest of our life, unless we become aware of it and consciously choose to discard it.

Dear Madam,

I and my wife are worried about the academic performance of our 11-year-old only son, who studies in Class VI. Either of us are always with him when he sits to study. Besides coaching, encouraging and motivating him, we help him in all aspects of his home work, but his marks graph has been going downward for the last three years. As far as we understad, he attempts all the questions during exam but makes a lot of spelling mistakes resulting in loss of marks for every mistake. In the end, he is awarded less mark for that particular question or no marks at all. Overall he ends up with less grades in each UT/Term exam.

His study pattern is thus: reading the particular chapter of the text book which is being taught in the class during evening or morning hours, identifying hard words and writing them over and over again for two to three days, undertaking dictation for whichever words he can’t write properly, and practicing those for another two days. He reads repeatedly till he memorises all the answers, meanings, fill in the blanks etc., and answers them orally.

But this method is not helping. We bought online maths tuition for only maths to help him but did not have much success. Can you suggest a better way for him to do well in his studies? One observation we made all these years is, while reading text, many a time, he reads words which are not there in the text at all ( For example, adding ‘s’ where it is not given). He does this even though words are familiar to him and he knows how to read them. He wears spectacles with 3.5 power. We take him for regular checkup in April every year and replace spectacles as prescribed. He was born in the seventh month of pregnancy. Is that determining his studies? Please help. Except in studies, he is very active and mingles with friends, browses computer, uses mobile, in fact tells us some times things we don’t know.


Dear Chandramohan,

When I read your letter I can sense your anxiety around your child’s academic performance, and I would urge you to get some help to deal with that anxiety first, otherwise you will project that anxiety onto your child in all your interactions and that is not going to help the situation. Address your fears around the matter and see what is driving that anxiety. Take the help of a counsellor in doing this, if possible.

Secondly, please recognise that your child is more than just his academic achievements or lack of academic achievements. He will have other strength areas which you must discover, nurture, cherish and value. He may have weaknesses as well, but that is normal and so do all of us. We need to be able to recognise them and work around them. I do not know enough about your child’s academic abilities, but if you have concerns on that score, you could get him tested to see if he needs any special assistance in certain areas.

Thirdly, I am not sure how much time you insist him to study when he comes back home. It should not be more than an hour or so a day at this level. You need to be able to transfer responsibility to him, and get him motivated to work on his own, without your constant monitoring and assistance. Maybe if you let go a little, he may be able to take more ownership for his work, and feel more of a sense of satisfaction in doing it.

Fourthly, please focus on effort, not on marks. Ultimately he needs to put in his best effort to perform at his optimum level of capability (which may be different from other children, and may not get reflected in marks). Also, please focus on his understanding the material and what he is doing, not on memorising things he does not understand. That is a very short-term view of studying. Let learning and rewarding effort be the goal, not the memorising and rewarding marks.

Maullika Sharma is an MBA graduate with a specialistion in counselling.
She works with adolescents and
parents. Send in your queries to Ask Your Counsellor,  Education,
Deccan Herald, 75, MG Road, Bangalore-560001 or email as at dheducation

Comments (+)