With freedom comes responsibility

With freedom comes responsibility


Dear Madam,

I am a Class 10 student. I have been getting good marks so far. And I don’t study much. In fact, I don’t study at all. But I listen attentively in the class and watch videos related to the topics covered. Now since I am in 10th my parents are worried that I may not do well in the exams. So, I am trying to study, but it is not easy. I don’t know how to sit in a place and study. Please guide me to develop good reading habits.



Dear Chaitanya,

You seem to be blessed in that you are able to do well academically without putting in much effort. Many would love to be in your position. Just because everyone else needs to spend hours poring over their books you don’t have to. However, every exam has a style and a technique to address it and while taking exams if you understand the questioning style and expectations of the examiners it makes your task easier.

If you think you have a good grasp of the subject matter, you may want to instead focus on going through past papers which will help you understand and master the techniques as well. More than the marks, focusing on learning how to learn is equally important and everyone must find the technique that works best for them. So don’t be driven by the stress of your parents or the pressure to get more marks. Instead be driven by the desire to understand and learn, and the desire to have given whatever you are attempting your best shot. All the best!


Dear Madam,

My son is six years old. We moved him to a new school this year. It’s been three months since and he has become more aggressive and violent. We never know when he gets angry and what makes him behave arrogantly. Is that because of the school? He seems to be happy about the school. 



Dear Akshata,

Don’t focus on the behaviour and fixing it. Focus instead on trying to understand what the child is thinking and feeling and try to address those thoughts and feelings. The behaviour will then take care of itself. Allow the child to express his thoughts in a safe space (which means where he is allowed to say what he feels without fear of reprimand, or fear of being put down, or fear of his feelings being minimised). Please remember all feelings are valid, and so are his. Also, understand your parenting and what you are doing.

What are your stressors during parenting? What is the child experiencing in the form of parents? How are people in the household expressing their anger and frustrations? “Children see, children do!” is an oft-used statement because a child’s behaviour is often reflective of their own experience with the adults in their life. So reflect on what this could be and if there are any changes you may want to bring about there.

In this process, seek the help of a counsellor if you think that will be helpful.

Also try to understand, maybe from the teachers, what his experience in school is like and if he is being bullied. That could be one explanation too.


Dear Madam,

My daughter has just completed PUC. Earlier she used to ask for our suggestion before taking any decision. But now she is on her own and rarely shares her feelings. We feel bad. How do we make her comfortable with us?



Dear Shishir,

It is a normal part of adolescence to reduce dependence on one’s parents and create an identity that is separate from them. This process of individuation necessarily involves increasing the distance from one’s parents. I understand that you feel bad, but this is a normal part of growing up. It is a healthy process and one that should be encouraged. Being able to take one’s own decisions and then being responsible for the outcomes of those decisions teaches them essential life skills. Instead of feeling threatened by that process, recognise it and discuss it. Let her know that you recognise this as a part of her growing up need and that you are available should she need to discuss something with you, or need your input. And when she does come to you for input, remember to be available in a safe and non-judgemental way, accepting of her thoughts and feelings.


Dear Madam,

I am a PUC teacher. I see that students of these days want to be more independent. But my fear is they don’t really understand the meaning of freedom and tend to take the wrong path. How can we as teachers help them?


Dear Shailaja,

Thank you for your question. I think as teachers we can play the important role of discussing the concept of freedom with them – the concept that with freedom comes responsibility and accountability. Often our belief that they are taking the wrong path is a function of our own value system which may not be the only value system to have; and also from a need to protect them from failure. Sometimes failing, or going down the wrong path, is the most effective way to learn valuable life lessons.

So, sometimes we need to make mistakes in order to learn. As students go down life’s path teachers can only be guiding lights to show the path, and helping hands to help get up if one stumbles, if needed. They can’t be and don’t need to be walking sticks and crutches to provide constant support. If students go down the wrong path, they should know that is not the end of the road, and they should have the resources and the perceived sense of support to get back on track. Hope that helps.

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