Let your children try and fail

Karanvir Gupta
“Did he say fail? Has he gone bonkers?”must have been the very first thought in many of yours’ brains. Failure after all is such a big taboo in our society and ecosystem. Failure at anything be it at studies, sports, or relationships except for falling from a cycle which is the only time when parents tell their children “beta koi nahi, gir-gir kar hi to bade hote hain”. Though this is almost esoteric to me that how parents feel that falling from the cycle again and again can make them learn to drive the cycle better. But when it comes to life, the tables topple.
I deliberately chose this as the time to pen this piece. Half of the school going children are off with their summer break and rest half have their hearts in the mouth and foot in the door to the new world. While the first half laze around and the other half toil hard, I see very less effort going into understanding what theyare good at, gauge their interest or what they want to do with their lives. But as parents believe, children are not wise enough to take the decision for themselves. I agree to an extent but then as parents please help them sail through and fly high.
I am sure you would have read about Malia Obama, Barack Obama’s daughter who has been in news recently for taking a year gap before entering college. And if a child in our society would have decided to do so, he/she would have to face jibes like vella nikhatoo, berozgaar, “tumhein pata bhi hai tumhein kya karna hai life mein”, etc. But No Sir, nobody knows what to do with his/her life. Hence the gap! This is a brilliant thing to do to observe life closely and live on your own, away from the cocoon and shelter of the parents. It is then when children start understanding things and have a broader perspective towards life. And it is then when they know that what is their role in the society and where do they fit in.
Since childhood when crayons are given in hands to the transition to pens via pencil, the academic journey keeps us occupied giving us not enough time to make up our minds. Though we could map our interests, we are not given the leverage to pursue that aggressively. Hence I personally feel that summer vacations play a very crucial component in bridging that gap. You know as a mother-father that what your child is inclined towards. Be it dance, sports, literature, public speaking, sports, gymnastics, maths, applied sciences, etc. and there is a whole world of opportunities out there.Let us closely follow that and help children work towards that.
This is not an overnight process. The Sachin Tendulkar, MF Hussain, Lata Mangeshkar, A.R. Rahman, R.D. Burman, Leander Paes, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal and others among these famous people to who you stand and give standing ovation and have goosebumps whenever they are on their respective battlefields. They all have dedicated their lives to that art. They FOCUS on the act of performing that art better than always. Though you as parents aspire your children to be there, you never accompany them in maintaining the focus on that. (I am sure there are exceptions).
And then we wonder why there is a huge employability challenge in our country when the whole system takes a pride in maintaining the status quo. Let us stop. Please. This is the only reason that even after graduating from top notch colleges and universities, the 75% or more students are not considered employable (as published by EY report in 2015). Not because they are not sharp or intelligent. Just because you cannot judge the fish by the height of the tree it climbs. Let it swim and then you judge.
And all this has to start at an early age and needs to be nurtured. From the time your children start “enjoying” their summer vacations by simply sleeping or visiting relatives, help your children gauge their interests and motivate them to do so more often. If your children want to try hands at different things, don’t stop them from doing so. You never know when they find the perfect fit. Let them try. The worst that will happen is they will fail and the best that will follow is they would know themselves better.
Similarly when your children are facing pressure of clearing the toughest of examinations either in Engineering or Medical, please ensure that they are doing out of their own will and interest. Or else let us promise not to complain against Politicians/Government when the bridges collapse and the patients die. You are equally responsible for that. So guide them, help them and most importantly understand the interests of your children. And if they want let them pause for a while. If you want your children to succeed, you need to understand that behind each act of success, there are numerous hours of practice and rigorous sessions.
This will not only contribute to the success of your children, but also to the holistic development of the society and the nation. Coming back to the analogy of learning how to drive cycle, I believe it will be better to say that the ones who get up after they fall every time are the ones who will make the cut. And then parents, it is up to you! But let your children try and fail!
(The writer is an IIM Shillong alumnus)