Source |Linkedin .com | BY:Ramesh Srinivasan, Corporate Speaker, Executive Coach
The proud mother never tired of asking her 7-year old son, “Tell Uncle what you want to become when you grow up.” As if on cue, the boy says, “Astronaut.” That is followed by a heavy prompt from a beaming mummy, “What will you do as an astronaut?” The boy goes on to tell us about going to the moon, then Mars and growing potatoes there. Everyone shows adequate admiration, and the mother launches on other exploits of the son, and her own activities as the protector of a ‘hyper-energetic’ bundle who is always thinking of big things to do.
A few weeks after that encounter, mother and son were visiting us at home, and one of us, recognizing the child, asked him the same old question, “So, what do you want to become when you grow up?” The child said, “I want to drive a tourist bus.” The mother, who did not expect this, went berserk. She was all over the 7-year old, “Who told you this?” “What about astronaut?” When she did not get very coherent replies from the child who was taken aback by this unexpected belligerence from his mother, she held his cheeks in her hands, looked sternly into his eyes, and said, “I don’t want to hear this bus driver nonsense. Do you hear me? You will be an astronaut. Is that understood?” The boy vigorously nodded his head in complete and abject agreement.
“How can I keep him safe from bad influences? How can I be with him all 24 hours of the day?” The distraught mother is completely missing the point. This was a classic case of the adults violently gate-crashing a child’s world, totally unwarranted and uninvited.
Why do we have to moderate a child’s thinking using our scales and standards of ‘good-better-bad’? What makes adults wiser in drawing the lines of propriety for a child’s imagination? If not as a child, when is one to let dreams run and form, unfettered?