Drop the ego



June 2014

By Pulkit Sharma

When parents operate out of their own blinkered perspective, and fail to respect the child’s unique needs and views, they not only damage the child but also fray bonds, says Pulkit Sharma

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Recently, a 75-year-old father and his 53-year-old son came to me to help resolve their strained relationship. The father stated that his son had an imaginary problem as he had fulfilled all his desires without his even having to ask for anything. The son became enraged and retorted that this was the problem. According to him, the father was dominating, and carried such a grand image of himself that he never gave the son an opportunity to express discontent over what was missing. In my interactions with troubled children and parents as a psychologist, I have often come across this issue. While parents feel that their parenting is flawless, children feel that they have been parented in a very destructive, cold and deprived manner. So, what could be the reason for this big gap in understanding?

As parents we feel that our intentions are good, for we want the best for our children. We slog to fulfil our children’s needs. We rear them in the best way we can. However, if we reflect, we may realise that we are seeing things only from our perspective. Our ego is the greatest guiding force. It tells us what is good and bad for the child. It lays down standards that we wish our children to measure up to. We think that the process is as simple as identifying a goal and pushing the child towards it. Parents often miss out on an important understanding. The ego is a composite of our personality, wishes, desires, values and life experiences. It has no room for the wishes, desires and values of others.What we perceive as good may not be valued by our children. The child also has his or her own ego, and may have a different set of thoughts, feelings, behaviours, aspirations and values. Problems in parenting occur because generally there is a clash of ego between the child and the parent.

The essence of positive parenting lies in moving beyond the confines of our ego, and expanding ourselves. We need to create a space for the child’s developing ego in our own mind, and remind ourselves that the child is a different being. We need to understand the difference between a child and a clone. The more we do it the better will be ou
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