Carve your own path

Last Updated 12 December 2018, 20:36 IST

Dear Madam,

I am a doctoral student. I recently met a senior researcher and I struck up a friendship with him. He responded immediately and we became good friends. Of late, I have realised that though he responds honestly he rarely starts a conversation. I am a bit confused if this friendship is mutual or not.


Dear Kshama,

I am not sure I understand why you think he has an obligation to be friendly with you. Or why it is important that he “starts a conversation”. Friendships last and are comfortable for both parties when they accept the other person for who they are and not burden the relationship with needless expectations. I get a sense though that you may be having unstated expectations out of this ‘friendship’ which is bringing in the discomfort. Also, maybe you are looking to this friendship for validation of yourself. It will be helpful for you to discuss this with a counsellor to gain more confidence for yourself and reduce your emotional dependence on this friendship. If one person in a friendship is more dependent on the other person, there is a burden that falls on the other person that may not be necessary or comfortable.

Dear Madam,

My sister is studying in BCom final year. She is asking for an Android mobile for the last six months. Is it okay to buy her a cell phone?


Dear Khan,

A mobile phone has sort of becoming a necessity in this day and age, not only for staying in touch with people but for all the various uses that it has. And for someone in college, where the peer group uses it as a medium of connecting with anyone, if you don’t have a smartphone you are bound to feel isolated and get left out. So if you can afford it, then this is not an unreasonable demand.

Dear Madam,

My teenage son binge-watches YouTube videos. Mostly they are academic and though we don’t check regularly, we are sure that he doesn’t go astray. And his behaviour is also normal. Still, we are worried about the negative effects of sitting for long hours and we ask him to engage in some other activity of his choice, mostly physical, but we have not succeeded in convincing him yet. Also, he complains that we don’t sit with him while watching these videos. But whenever we watch something together, we end up arguing with each other for one or the other reason. How can I improve my understanding and communication skills so that we can spend quality time together?

A mother

Dear Mom,

Try as we might, our teenagers will rebel and will do exactly what we tell them not to. This is not necessarily only about challenging you as the parent, but also about creating their own space and identity, testing the waters of what they can and cannot do, and what they should or should not do. Sometimes the only way they learn is by making their own mistakes. As parents, we want to protect them from all that they do wrong. But we must understand that we can only guide them. We cannot control them. If they follow our guidance that may help, but if they choose not to follow our guidance, we must still love them and give them the safety of home. We must recognise our own limits, and accept them.

To improve our communication and understanding, we must learn to listen – listen to learn not to respond; listen to understand not to preach or teach; listen with an open heart, without judgment and the need to control. Most of the time when the child is speaking, instead of listening, we are formulating a response in our head.

Dear Madam,

I am a postgraduate student. I am always under the fear that I might get some disease and this phobia has degraded the quality of my life. Also, I am always worrying about what others in the class think of me and can’t say ‘No’ to anything. I want to be a strong person and achieve in academics also. Please guide.


Dear Sahana,

I think you should definitely reach out to a counsellor to get help with your fear of falling sick. This is known to happen to some people, but with appropriate help from mental health professionals, you will be able to improve the quality of your life. Don’t let this come in the way of your dreams and aspirations and your life. Please reach out for help. Know that you are not alone, and you do not have to deal with this on your own. This is not a sign of weakness and will not come in the way of your wanting to be a “strong” person. All the best.

Dear Madam,

I am a BSc student interested in fine arts. I want to take up fine arts but I know that my parents will not give consent as they want me to be a scientist. I am good at studies, but that doesn’t mean I like the subject. How do I convince them that there is scope for arts too, and I can have a good career if I pursue it? Please guide.


Dear Ranjith,

Ultimately your parents will want you to be happy and successful. To them, that may mean following the tried and tested path that they may have followed. But their idea of success may be different from yours and you may want to think some more about what being successful means to you and what gives you happiness. If you have thought this through and are still wanting to follow your chosen path you will be able to convince them. But you must bear in mind that most of the time our parents’ idea of success is to ensure the child is financially comfortable and secure in his or her chosen profession. If you can show them how your career in fine arts can be financially secure for you that should also help.

Remember that there is not only one path to success, and there is also not only one definition of success. So find your own definition of success and carve your own path to it, and in the process enjoy your journey. If you enjoy the journey and know the path you are following, your parents will eventually cheer you on.

Good luck!

(Published 12 December 2018, 19:19 IST)

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