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Kids carrying parents' ambitions || Acharya Prashant, with BITS Hyderabad (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): My question is regarding coaching institutes. In recent years, coaching for competitive exams has certainly become more popular, and students are enrolled in it from a very young age, like sixth or seventh grade. This has happened in my family as well. Some of my cousins were forced to get into coaching at a very young age.

So, my question regarding this topic is, is this added pressure on these young kids necessary and justified? We don’t know for a fact that they will take science in the twelfth grade; they might go for arts, they might go for economics. These coaching institutes seem to just hamper their childhood with all their strict workouts and such things.

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, what do I say? It’s so obviously foolish that to bring out its foolishness is absurd. You can reveal something that’s hidden. Something that’s so obviously apparent—what do I say about it?

Q: Actually, I had a followup question on this as well. How can we convince the parents to not do it?

AP: Depends on whether the parents have any love at all. If the kid is being used just as cannon fodder to target the parents’ ambitions, how will you convince the parents? I do not know whether that is possible. I can just empathize with the kid. Too bad he was born; too bad she was born to such parents.

The society, the law, they all declare the child the de facto property of the parents, at least till age eighteen; now, how do you interfere? The kid is twelve years of age, class seventh you said; there is no way any power in the world can do much about this situation, because there is no obvious violation of the kid happening. The violation is definitely there, but it is subtle. Had the kid been physically assaulted or something of that kind, there would have been some tangible evidence and some action could have been taken. What do you do in such a situation where there is constant, unrelenting violence on the kid by such ignorant parents?

The travesty is, you become parents far, far before you have any mental maturity. Mental maturity is something most people do not have even till their last breath, but physical maturity comes so early.

I was looking at the rabbits. You know, by the time they are a few months of age, they are ready to reproduce. It hits you there: “Oh, just a few months old, and it’s ready to reproduce!” But the same thing happens with humans: eighteen years of age, twenty, twenty-five, thirteen or fourteen—you are ready to reproduce. And you have no sense of the world, no wisdom, no maturity at all, and you have brought a baby to this world, and you have become its custodian, its guardian, its god. What else will you do?

You could never make it to an engineering college; now you want the kid to learn coding right from age six. You never had the guts to speak straight even to your grandfather, so now you have put the kid in some public speaking class. This is the most wronged community, a community most deeply exploited: the community of children. And we don’t talk of this continuous holocaust. It isn’t an event in history; it is a continuity so directly present that it becomes inconspicuous. You fail to see it exactly because it is everywhere.

Q: Yes, I understand that, but can you give me some things that I can put forward to the parents? Because it is happening in my family, and I cannot be a…

AP: We are doing that already. You see, it has to be addressed by addressing the most fundamental questions of life. For example, when I am speaking on the importance of work or on the importance of relationships, love, or even on the topic of, let’s say, nationalism, patriotism, in some way I am enabling the parent to take better decisions for the kids, because it’s lack of wisdom that makes parents act so foolishly with regards to their kids.

So, wisdom from any source, in any context is going to be useful. Parents need to be torn away from their usual preoccupations. Even an hour daily to wisdom literature or to wise company would help them raise the kid in a much better way. Otherwise, the kid is just like animals being transported to the slaughter factory.

Parents need to be trained in spirituality, if you want me to be blunt. This is the solution. This alone is the solution. Had we been a conscious society, only very spiritual people would have had the right to reproduce, because undeserved reproduction is a crime against the one you have given birth to. If killing someone is a crime, I call it a deeper crime to unconsciously give birth.

When you kill someone, you are punished because it is an act in deep unconsciousness, right? But then, reproduction too happens in deep unconsciousness. Why must people not be punished for having babies? It is a tremendously important thing to be a parent; it cannot be taken casually.

If a person has some love, he or she will ask himself a thousand times, “Am I ready to be a parent? And if I am going to be a parent, am I putting enough time, energy, attention into the process of preparation? Even after the kid has come, do I realize the gravity of my responsibility?” Because the kid does not get grown up in a day; it takes almost two decades before you can call a human being a grownup thing.

So, the parents’ education has to be continuous. Is the parent up to it, or is he using the kid just as a plaything, a toy, a product of a casual moment?

Q: Something to show off to others…

AP: Something to show off, like an ornament, a necklace, a new ring, a new pair of shoes…

Q: So, how to proceed with this?

AP: Begin by talking. Initiate a discussion. Depth of any kind is good. Let them think deeply over these things. Let them think deeply about anything. It’s not that they are being violent or ignorant only towards their kids; they are violent and ignorant towards everything in the world. So, let the discussion start from anywhere. It would be useful.

Q: I will show them this recording as well, this session and the exact question I asked. I think that will be a bit more useful.

AP: I am not very sure whether this is the right thing to begin with. My words are usually too much for a beginner. They will react, and that reaction will further inhibit them from learning. So, you need to probably begin on your own. At some point when you perceive a ripeness, then maybe you can introduce me to them.

Initially, when most people come in contact with me, their first reaction is of rejection or anger; they recoil. The ego is bound to recoil when it is hit right on the face.

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