mid-day editorial: Parents, this is a test for you too

The exam season has begun and many nervous students are calling helplines for reassurance or just to clear doubts about things like hall tickets or exam centres. But, as our front-page story pointed out yesterday, counsellors manning the state board’s helpline numbers were flummoxed by calls from parents entreating them to tell their children to take the exams seriously. The students themselves seemed confident about their preparation and were annoyed by the interference.

When students or parents call to ask about technical details, their anxiety is understandable, given the unfortunate track record of the authorities. So many times, we have seen the wrong question papers distributed, late arrival of hall tickets, exams thrown out of schedule or some or the other gaffe. Counsellors are also trained and ready to handle any cries for help from nerve-wracked students. But what’s worrying is the tendency of some parents to cross the thin line between genuine concern and paranoia. They may not realise that all this does is unsettle the child right before the exam.

Today, the academic world rues just how aggressive parents have become, actually badgering institutions and teachers or threatening them at any hint of a slight. Students also feel an additional pressure when parents foist so much expectation on them. Being involved in the life of your children is one thing, but controlling it is quite another. Parents of college students should realise that their children are young adults quite capable of making their decisions.

Making small mistakes and stumbing is a part of growing up. If parents are going to telegraph every move or cushion every fall, how will children learn to fall, get up, dust themselves off and continue on the journey in life? Parents need to give their children space, keep logical expectations, draw certain boundaries that do not stifle children and, finally, give them the freedom to make their own choices.

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