Nurturing a child is a huge responsibility. How we behave with our children sets the tone for their entire lives. It seems natural for us to want our children to live and do as we want, to fulfil our unfulfilled wishes and dreams, rather than pursue his/her own.
But this is not a natural survival instinct.
Birds and animals leave their young ones to fly/hunt on their own once they learn how to do it. But we, also part of the animal kingdom, somehow form a very possessive bond with our young ones, thereby smothering them without even intending to do it.
I recently came across an interesting book on this topic called The Ocean Within by Kanika Yadav. The book is quite an easy read with some very interesting points to make. The author is a tax professional who is very fond of children and is associated with NGOs working with children. She has written this book after researching on the topic with many parents and children, and after understanding the pain the children go through sometimes, which we, as adults, are unable to see.
A survivor of a very abusive marriage and a nasty divorce, Kanika healed herself and became a life coach to help others. Her observation of the human behaviour is made more accurate by her own sufferings and experiences.
The crux of her book is in the following statement: Don’t let your child become an average follower of your dreams, rather than an extraordinary player of his own dreams.
With this profound statement in mind, we got in touch with Kanika to have a tête-à-tête with her on the book and more on child psychology.
Jyoti: Hi Kanika, thanks for agreeing to talk to us. Your book really touches a chord. What inspired you to write this book?
Kanika: Hi Jyoti, the pleasure is all mine. I am a simple individual doing a 9 to 5 job. But there were certain situations in my life that made me question my own identity and broke me apart. So in order to collect the broken pieces I went for coaching to heal myself. In this journey I understood we get what we distribute. If I want to be happy I need to distribute the happiness. I have always felt happy around kids. I used to visit NGOs and try to help them in whatever ways I could. I truly believe that children are the most innocent version of a human being and we can only bring change in the society or build a dream society through children. Because they will be the future society. It really breaks my heart to see any kid suffering.
Whatever I am today, I am because of the upbringing I received in my childhood. It gave me strength to fight against all the odds in my life. I always believe that childhood is the most vulnerable part of anyone’s life and parents generally don’t intend to be wrong, but at times unintentionally leave scars on the heart of their child. The childhood experiences lay the foundation of our behaviour, our belief system and our outlook towards things.
Thus I felt that there is need to bring out the perspective of children. Through this book I have tried highlighting the situations and thought process of a child because somewhere I believe that parents are the only persons who can heal their child. They are the first persons with whom a child connects and interacts and with their magnificent healing capabilities, they can make the worst circumstances faced by their child as their strength.
Jyoti: You talk about the negative impact of Narcissism in the book. You also give indicators of how you can find out if someone is narcissist. However, it is not easily recognised and accepted in India. How do you suggest one recognises a narcissist trait in a spouse and deal with it?
Kanika: Yes! Narcissism does exist but is not accepted in India. It is an inflated sense of self-importance with an excessive desire of attention, i.e. wanting to have everything revolving in and around them. The worst thing about this is that the person who is in a relationship with a person with narcissist disorder is in a much worse situation than the person having it. There are many articles and researches on types of Narcissism and its traits, such as:
- A relationship with a narcissist is one sided where the narcissist is the receiver and other person is the giver.
- They need constant praise and admiration. They don’t even let their partners, parents or children take the attention. They want everything to be only and only about them.
- They need a codependent whose life is only around them. Such person acts as food for their narcissistic ego. A codependent could be anyone – a spouse or a child. Generally the codependent of a narcissist lives in a pathetic condition. They are made to believe that they are not good enough.
- They live in their own fantasy world. They want their codependent to believe in that. In order to do so they try to break all the links with external environment or persons who can give their codependents a reality check by spreading lies about them too.
- Gaslighting is the most important weapon of a narcissist. They are never wrong. Even if they do anything wrong, it is because you made them do that thing wrong. They are very good at the art of manipulating the situation in such a way that victim becomes the culprit and they become the victim.
- They lack empathy. They make their codependent live in a pathetic situation with all the guilts and shame.
I can only say that if we notice this happening to any individual or a child we should definitely try to help them.
Jyoti: Children do fall trap to online bullying and scams, like the Blue whale. However friendly we are with our children, they are smart enough to know when to hide certain things. How do you think we can find out whether our children are involved in such activities?
Kanika: Definitely children will do what they want. They know how to find their escape routes. They will learn from their mistakes only and not from their parent’s experiences. But my concern is that we need to build such a relationship with our children that they find telling parents about the trap they are in a better alternative than further falling into it or telling anyone else. Actually what happens is that children just want to hide it from their parents and agree to do anything in return for it. This further makes them do the things they never want to do or are wrong.
They can sense what is happening is wrong but still fear bringing it out in front of their parents. Being scolded by the parents should not be a worse fear than being trapped, or killing someone, or dying by themselves in the children’s minds. They should have faith that come what may, my parents will help me come out of this. My life would be normal.
Moreover if children are involved in such activities they tend to behave differently from usual. Parents can notice such behavior change. But above that I would say that parents should try to communicate regularly with their children. They should try to break the walls and make their child understand that they are there. No matter what the situation is, they will bring them out. This can only be done through a strong communication bond between parents and children.
Jyoti: One statement from your book resonates with me – ‘Don’t let any person ruin your child’s childhood even if the abuser is also your child or spouse.’ I have seen that molesters come from within the family in many, if not most, cases. But quite often, it is dismissed as the child’s imagination. However, I cannot think of any child imagining such gruesome things. But then I was brought up very cautiously to share with my mother if anybody so much as reaches out to touch me. How do you think we can help spread the word to sensitise parents towards this?
Kanika: Parents generally protect their children from the outsiders but as you said the abusers are most of time close family members or a person who is most trusted in the family. Nobody thinks about the malefic intensions that person possesses and the way they disguise their evil desires behind the mask of being the most understanding and amazing person. Since that person is respected and trusted, parents do not trust their children above them. Specially in the case of boys, they think why would anyone do this with them.
First of all, it is a very big thing for the child. At times they are too young to understand that what is happening with them is wrong. Then when they gather the courage to tell their parents, the parents refuse to believe them. Which further breaks their heart and strengthens the molester. This results in continuous abuse of the child for a very long time.
In India every second child is being sexually abused. This is true for both boys and girls. We need to discuss good touch and bad touch with our children. We need to tell them that if any such thing happens to them they should immediately tell us. And if this happens with our child, we should handle this very delicately and we need to believe the children. We need to stop the abuse that very moment.
*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*