My previous article on the topic ‘Preventing violence in students’ attracted so many comments and most of the people specially the teachers by & large agreed that teachers will have to own greater responsibility to help children to learn values and save them from being trapped in a negative situation. But at the same time, some people did mention that the role of the family in ‘Indian context’ cannot be ignored and I fully agree with them. The social support system and the ‘needs’ satisfaction of the children has been fulfilled by the family from the ancient times. The family has always played a key role in the growth of the children in a manner that they become competent to face the challenges of life. The family here becomes the axis which is most important to achieve this mission. The children, particularly up to the age of adolescents are largely impressed by the way family fulfills their needs to develop core competencies. Even in the disadvantaged groups (like SC, ST and BPL) the warm, close and healthy parent-child relationship and healthy family support help these children develop well. The parents become the most effective source of support (especially emotional support) to the children & adolescent. They are real shock absorbers of the normal & natural jerks (stress) the children face in their life. But when parents are unable to provide such support then the children tend to suffer and are deprived of the shock absorbers they need from time to time and are not able to develop the competencies required in the life. This is a well known fact (proved by studies & surveys) that the families in which exchange of thoughts and ideas take place their children develop proficiency faster than in a case where it does not happen. The life stresses in the children can be reduced simply by providing the shock absorbers in the form of proper communication between the family & children. (Chowdhury & Baral, 1999, say that family is always considered the potential source of supportive relationship and represents the basic protective system in child’s development).
Though the India family is considered to be a homogeneous unit, but the country of this size (in terms of population) and diversified magnitude may have variables in the family unit also. It may change from region to region, caste to caste, religion to religion and also on economic background. The article by Aprajita Chowdhury in the book ‘The Childhoods in South Asia’ reveals that Indian families play a significant role in shaping the development of individuals , as it is a big support for nurturing, emotional bonding and socialization. I do come across the question that “we, as parents try our level best to support our children but they never follow what is important for their development”. We know that in family, we have mother, father, brother/sister and other members like uncle, aunt, grandfather/ grandmother and other close relatives. And the influence of other family members cannot be ignored. If we talk of the geographical areas, then in case of Jodhpur, the families are more closely knit than in other parts of Rajasthan. The South India has different set of family system than north or north-east part of the country. But the impact of the family unit on the children can never be neglected or ignored. The joint family always provide better support to the children in times of adversity than the nuclear family. Some people do deliberate upon the changing facets of the new generation, that they are never satisfied with what they are provided or they do not behave as the older generation behaved. All of us should understand that post liberalization the social fabric and family dynamics have changed. The people have moved from their own native place to serve other part of the country or even outside the country and the impact of that cannot be avoided on the children. The economic and social dependency dynamics have also undergone a sea change. Earlier the sole bread earner used to be father but last few decades have seen the progress and growth made by women and that has also contributed to the change in family dynamics along with a change in the inter relationship among family members.
Though I have not come across any study among the children from disadvantaged group where they were asked to know what makes them learn things easily & what not, but a case of disadvantaged adolescents in Berhrapur, Orissa can be an example (Aprajita Chowdhury). According to Dash (2000), ‘disadvantaged adolescents’ are those whose basic needs and internal necessities are not fulfilled. Their rights are denied or violated. This results in their not reaching to the optimum level of growth and they suffer due to no fault of theirs. Till I read this article, I always thought that family support to such children was less than the ones coming from advantaged group. Though I am still not in a position to say what is right but after working so long with the advantaged group of children, I think both the groups are at the same level in terms of family support, rather disadvantaged group is at advantage. Before I dwell upon this for the children from advantaged group, let us try to understand the study done in Berharpur on disadvantaged children & try to understand who contributed the most for the need satisfaction & how that lead to the development of competencies.
The study collected information from a sample of students from two groups of disadvantaged children from classes VI to IX. The peers from the class selected two students who were vulnerable and who were non-vulnerable. Then the same was confirmed from the teachers also & total 60 students were shortlisted (30 from each group). Then approximately 35 needs which normally happen in adolescents were identified & the children were asked the following questions,
1. Whether they ever felt such a need?
2. When felt the need, whom did they approach?
3. What did these people do?
4. Were they happy with the action & response?
5. If not, what did they do after that?
Then in addition to many other interpretations the researches tried to find what was the relationship between needs felt and needs satisfied.
The children in non-vulnerable group were found that the mean of needs satisfied was higher than the mean of needs felt, whereas in case of vulnerable group the needs satisfied were less than the needs felt. This implies that if the ‘needs satisfied’ are more than the ‘needs felt’ children tend to develop more competencies than in the other case.
When the graph was plotted for the needs satisfaction and the agent (person or the unit) who fulfilled the need was indeed an interesting one. In this case, it was found that both the parents were most influential and in that too the mother was more effective than the father. This has following sources/agents in descending order;
Mother father brother/sister friends teachers relations
This proves that in disadvantaged group, the teachers as source, have less impact than the mother, father & brother/sister; so my concept that teachers make a huge impact seems to be negated by this study. The role of mother and father is the key in providing the support and help to the children so that they become confident in facing challenges of life.
Though this study was conducted for a particular set of classes and it might change in case of primary and secondary students but I think the role of parents cannot be understood better than what is taught by this study.
Now I can correlate some cases of those family members whose children would not have been able to do that well as expected. There have been number of cases where the parents’ behaviour and approach was not worth appreciating and they would shout on everyone around without understanding what really happened. They would just react violently (not physically but shouting) and the child would be listening. There are parents who do not encourage their children to share things with others or help others. The children of advantaged group at times suffer because of that as parents & family remain in hurry in consolidating the wealth and position of power achieved. Such parents’ think that the need of these children is money and materialistic things which they fulfil to the best of their ability but forget the real needs of the children. They are not able to spend quality time with them. They do not listen to their real problems of loneliness because of the predicament that joint families are breaking and both the parents working. The most important thing to remind all is that the children are an important asset for us as well as society. They should not be considered as only the achiever in life but also the human being who need emotional and social support more than financial support.
Some parents genuinely do this but still their children do not behave and learn then what should be done. In such a case, the impact of the environment outside the family also plays a noteworthy role. The relatives & the neighbourhood also impact the children. In these cases the duo of parents and teachers together can nullify the negative impact of the external agencies.
The following is suggested to the parents
1. They should not always try to live their dreams through their children.
2. Balance between financial needs and emotional and social satisfaction of the children.
3. Behave in a manner so that children learn the values of hard work and honesty.
4. Remember what our former President, Late Shri APJ Abdul Kalam once said, if this country is to be made corruption free then the mother, father & teachers can make positive impact on their children. In this case also the parents contribute to 66% of the impact on child’s progress.
5. Be their friend but do not forget that you are parents also & the children follow you as their role model.
6. Let them learn the value of the money you would have earned.
7. Respect everyone around you if you want them to learn this most important value.
8. Do not try to get more from them than what their potential is.
9. Let them pursue the area of their interest and not the one which interests you.
1. Appreciate and motivate them to do better but not beyond their capacity.