Parents as Peers

Parenting is usually identified as the role of biological parents in bringing up the children and shaping their destiny. However, it cannot be confined to them only.  Needless to mention, that teachers, nurses, and other caretakers also play a role in fulfilling the parenting tasks with children. In the process of becoming caring adults and responsible citizens of society, children keep inspiring from people who are closely involved with them. Guardianship is the most important and challenging job any of us can have, no matter how little attention, support or recognition it receives in our society.  The parent-child relationship has a direct bearing on the mindset of children affecting many different areas of development. These include their language, skills of communication, executive function, self-restraint or control in certain situations, relationship with sibling and peer, academic achievement, and mental health and well being.  Therefore the best inheritance that parents can give to their children is a handsome amount of their time each day.  They should also make it imperative on themselves to instill a balanced sense of courage and humility together in their children. To quote Plato, let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence. Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.  At one point or the other, all of us are reminded of a special teacher who inspired us, infused courage in us and opened our eyes to new possibilities in life.  Teachers, especially at primary level are the true mentors. The parents may or may not be educated. According to Sylvester James, a distinguished researcher, “When I was a student at Jones high school, my physics teacher wrote an equation on the black board and then performed a very simple experiment while rolling a ball down the inclined plane. He showed there that what I saw in front of my eyes was described by the mathematical equation he had written on the black board. This was and is the closest thing I have ever seen to magic.”

Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific and ingenious inventors of all time was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.”  Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before finally making the light bulb. When asked by a reporter as how did it feel to fail so many times before making the invention, Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” At an early age, he showed a great deal of interest in mechanical processes and chemical experiments. However, he was described by his educators as “addled” and he spent only a few months in a formal classroom before being taken out of school and educated by his mother. She trained him in reading, writing and arithmetic. Down through the years, the wisdom of Edison’s mother, Nancy, proves true to its merit in terms of conviction and devotion, even today. She home-schooled him when the local one-room schoolhouse expelled him. Young Edison was definitely a different kind of learner. Edison’s mother prepared an excellent schedule to home-school her son, and Edison left his school behind without giving it a second thought. After Edison’s mother passed away, many years later, it so happened one day that while surfing through old family records and belongings, Edison came across a letter on browning paper, buried deep in his mother’s old closet.  It was the letter from his elementary school that Edison’s mother had received many years before. Edison kept crying for hours after reading it, and with a great conviction penned down the following words in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, thanks to the heroism of his mother, became the genius of the century.” Similarly, Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot, a French mechanical engineer often described as the “father of thermodynamics” was also groomed well by his parents. His father suffixed his name as Sadi because he was highly inspired by the character of Saadi Shirazi, a well-known Iranian poet. Fathers are as much the pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being as mothers, rather more important in certain aspects. Children have been seen to follow their fathers to set goals in life and work to achieve them. They also want to imitate their fathers in providing a sense of security, both physical and emotional, to the family. Children have an earnest desire to make their fathers feel proud of them. Therefore an involved father can always promote an inner growth and strength in his child. William Shakespeare has wisely said, “It is a wise father that knows his own child.” According to the United States Census Bureau, approximately one third of children in the U.S. grow up without their biological father in their home. Studies have shown that affectionate and supportive fathers greatly affect a child’s cognitive and social development. Numerous studies have been documented about negative consequences of being raised in a home that lacks a father, which may lead to increased likelihood of living in poverty, having behavioral problems, committing crimes, spending time in prison, abusing drugs or alcohol, becoming obese, and dropping out of school. One recent study concluded that children generally report higher levels of happiness, satisfaction, positive emotion, and meaning in life with fathers as compared with non-fathers. In this context, one cannot do without hailing the role of single women in making great men. An eminent theologian and a distinguished scholar of Hadith, Imam Mohammed Al-Bukhari had turned blind at the age of 12.  He was raised by a single mother with whose efforts and supplications, eyesight returned to him at 16. It is incredible to learn that in the same four years during which he was blind, he could learn a huge number of Hadiths because his mother would read them to him until he memorised.  A mother is indeed a walking miracle on earth.  In an expression of gratitude to his mother, Abraham Lincoln had once said “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Dr. Qudsia Gani is Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Cluster University Srinagar