This year my daughter asked me to get her “Miraculous Lady Bug” dress and cake for her birthday and last year she wanted everything on “Elsa” theme. Are they just her favourite cartoon characters, fascinations, or role models?
I never anticipated this as a warning sign unless I met my client Drona (Name and facts changed due to confidentiality clause)
Drona came to my office walking and talking like his favourite superheroes, i.e., Iron-man, batman, and Hulk. He had a huge collection of all these superheroes and their accessories. He preferred his imaginary world more than the real one. The reason his parents brought him to me was to connect him more to the real world. Alas! The real world was not so fascinating or, so it was perceived by Drona.
Children, below 13 yrs. and in many cases upto 21 years, struggle to find and make up their identities. This is a natural growth process. They look for objects, people, and characters in their surroundings as role models. According to their unique personality, all children choose their own characters to seek inspiration from. Subconsciously, they also become like them.
Our ancestors knew this very well. This is the reason most of the people, especially, Hindus, name their children after some God/Goddess, real-life heroes or words having a strong positive meaning. This is in expectation that their children will imbibe the positive traits and characteristics associated with that name.
Humans have a great power of imagination and an urge to be more and more effective and meaningful. In childhood, they may not rationalise things, but they are seeking and learning continuously from their surroundings. This is the reason our ancestors were very careful about the imaginary world children were creating around themselves. Hence, great stories and Panchatantra were written, especially, for children. Epics are narrated in the form of stories with many strong characters. Children can relate to them and choose their path of action and righteousness. Along with being magical and fascinating, these stories keep children in touch with reality, right action, and deeds.
The new era digital parenting is quite different now. We are exposing our children to Gods/Goddesses like Barbie, Elsa, Hulk, Ironman, Doraemon, and the like. We are engaging our children more and more in video games with targets of reaching to next and next levels, when in reality, they are reaching nowhere. So much is the futility of time, efforts and especially the wastage of divine gift of imagination and creativity.
Well, Drona was a 23 yrs. old man, and I was not much hopeful of big transformation results, until the concept of role model was reframed. Drona was excited to find his real-life heroes. I took the spark and decided to blaze it into fire. I made his parents come and talk more about themselves, their fears, struggles and how they overcame them all. Their family sessions made them understand each other better and Drona found his parents to be the best role models he had ever known. Soon he started discarding his toys.
During Drona’s sessions, I started parallel sessions in my family. This is a wonderful routine we follow even today. My husband and I sit with my daughter every evening chatting, playing, and relating stories of our childhood. We talk about our struggles and also heroic deeds. We even meditate for 10 minutes together thanking God for this wonderful life.
I wish every child to know that their parents are the best real life heroes; but who will tell them? Obviously not the digital parents 🙂
Jai Shri Hari 🙂