In our social system we tend to over-protect our children. Protection and care to a certain extent up to a certain age is welcome. But protecting beyond a limit and age, could harm their confidence. A specific incident during my visit to the Scandinavian region was when I realised this.
I was driving with my wife in Norway. That was the longest, continuous drive of my life. A drive of 46 hours without sleep and just two small breaks for refreshments.
We were driving on a single, narrow, risky road in the Northern most part of Europe. We noticed a youngster standing by the side of the road asking for a lift, pointing towards the direction we were proceeding. We were happy to pick him up. He was a 15 year old German, traveling alone from (then) West Germany. He would travel by public transport if available. We were in leanly populated areas where public transport was almost non-existent. Wherever public transport was not available, he would rely on help from the passing by vehicles for drops.
Our destination was Nord Cape. Soon he was friendly and part of the relevant conversations on the way went like this:
Me: Where are you headed to?
He: To Nord Cape to watch mid-night Sun.
Me: Oh! We too. We can drop you right there.
He: Thank you. But I will get down at the next town. I will work for a couple of days in a restaurant or a shop there, earn some money which would take me to reach my next stop.
Me: But then why don’t you come with us as we can take you to your ultimate destination.
He: No. I want to see and experience the places, earn myself and then spend.
Me: Oh! How much money did your parents give you when you were leaving home.
He: What? …..pause….. just equivalent of an American dollar.
Me: What? Just a dollar, for you to go right upto Nord Cape and watch the mid-night Sun.
He: Yeah. Why should my parents give me money? I am capable of managing and earning for myself to spend on my holiday.
It was an eye opener for me. No doubt we are emotionally attached to our kids to ensure that they are comfortable, safe and secure. But then, by providing all the emotionally dictated needs are we depriving them of the experience they would gain otherwise?
This incident encouraged me to permit my son a month long vacation overseas by himself when he was about 15. I am sure that must have helped him build his confidence, consciously or otherwise, in his hectic travels later in his life for education and for business.
Experienced and Written By: Badri Baldawa
Edited By : Meeta Kabra