“It is kind of sad that all the good that you do now is overshadowed by the bad that you did in the past.” 

A child is harmless to an adult and her mother who nurtures her.  She is the one that makes up her whole world. Its like shes the sun and her child is a planet who is dependent upon her for an endless supply of love and support. But then again what is the point of it all when the same caretaker…over the years becomes her worst nightmare? 

Teenage. The big bad numbers 1 and 3 – a stage where you bring your endless eternal cycle of “trying hard” – to fit into crowds, to be more amiable, approachable, and most of all…to be identified as an individual begins. It is a moment in time when over the next 7 years a person changes drastically; though at his or her own pace. They keep on building and re-building dreams and what course of life they choose but what sort of drives them to change for the better? What makes them change in a way that they work towards making all of their dreams come true? 

Rather than some of those, others get by and by. Get through it, ‘one day at a time’ because no wonder whatever they plan, no matter how much they try to see straight and keep the dark thoughts from entering their mind – every other moment is uncertain. Life, as we know it, to them, is uncertain. Even though they might not be served out of a silver spoon but they were given enough to keep their stomachs filled and good schooling and a house to come back to at the end of the day. To others, it seems that they have the trophy family – a dad who earns enough, a mother who has a perfect little household to run with picket fences, their children who are growing old lovingly. Are they now? 

Still, what is it that the onlookers miss in the hindsight? 

Well, an unstable marriage which equals “family drama”, a daughter who is working too hard to please the parents in a conquest to become the ‘trophy child’ because that’s what she is pushed towards. A son who is careless and belligerent and who’s harsh words are covered up under a “he means well” or “you really do change that because he’s right”.  Do the parents even realise the results of this differential treatment? This perceived favouritism overrides and affection received by the child who is the punching bag in every situation. Our brain stores the dark, dangerous and saddening memories in a specific region where they are accessed easily than the happy, light and loved memories. Do they know what seeds are they sowing into the unconscious of the child who is ‘trying too hard’?

Don’t you dare utter a single word, you spoilt brat! Didn’t I tell you beforehand? Don’t run on the stairs? Did you listen? NO! OF COURSE NOT!” screams the mother and throws her six-year-old daughter towards the door of the staircase where she gets scratches near her eye and gets a few smashes from the broomstick that the mother held. “Now off you go, child! Don’t dare make a sound, if I so much so hear a single sob out of your mouth then remember what might happen!” The terrified little girl walks down the stairs and later that night when her grandmother questions about the wound she very swiftly lies saying. “Oh! I don’t even remember getting hurt, I just slipped on my way to the terrace door, grandma” and looks away. The scratches felt as if someone had set her face on fire and her back throbbing from pain” 

Punishment is a term that has different meanings in everyone’s dictionary. For some parents it is grounding the child, taking away the technological privileges, for others its a slap on the arm or being dismissed from the dining table. But some believe in a nasty line – “spare the rod. Spoil the child.” 

What they fail to understand is that ‘one’ disciplining rod of theirs plagues the entire childhood and towards adulthood? It yields revolting, self-deprecating individuals who are on a timer – all the damn time, on a self destruct. Parents lose respect, gratitude and love in the eyes of the child and they gain a tortured pet that would do as it is told to, put in every possible effort to please the master. 

Little did the pet know that the master would never be satisfied.

“But I argued with that woman because she was questioning your dignity! She said so many horrible things about you. When you just decided to stay silent because she was an elder I couldn’t bear it!” said the now seventeen-year-old daughter. 

“But that was the point of it, wasn’t it! I would’ve said something if I wanted to. You ruin everything. That’s all you know how to do, you uncultured swine! You need to be taught a lesson!” and thus began the needless ordeal and by the time the mother was done with her daughter, she had a sprained knee, countless bruises over her body but her face and she had leaked in her pants. She gets up from the floor and rushes upstairs with only one thing on her mind- don’t cry, don’t let her know you’re affected, not worth your tears cause they are for the vulnerable and you aren’t.”

At its core, it all comes down to how the actions of the parents affect the mindset of the child hindering them from reaching their full potential. The child’s psyche is deeply affected, they grow up into individuals who are full of self-doubt, low on self-efficacy and thoughts like “no one would love me or loves me” become a part of them.

Badmouthing, spanking or resorting to other harsh methods just inculcates a sense of failure and can eventually…lead to cruel circumstances. 

Tina Dahiya

B.Sc. Clinical Psychology

Shree Guru Gobind Tricentenary University

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