What do Karan, Priya, Namrata and Siddhartha have in common?
On the face of it, nothing. But when you add Adani, Aggarwal, Goyal and Mallya to their names, suddenly, these 20-somethings represent a sizeable chunk of India's GDP. As children of parents at the very top of their games, the definition and yardsticks to measure success for them must be very very different. And difficult.
It's great to be super-achiever parents. Every dad wants to be his son's hero. Every mom wants her daughter to look up to her. But it's a double-edged sword, because comparisons are inevitable. And no child should have to live in a shadow that is impossible to shirk. I doubt Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini hold up their glittering careers for their children to look at and feel bad about themselves, but the world isn't quite as gracious, is it? And while most of us aren't the Bachchans or the Ambanis, comparison to parents is a reality in thousands of families, every day, everywhere.
It's normal for a writer to want a writer son/daughter or a businessman to want an MBA kid just dying to take over the reins. But what happens when a Harvard-educated CEO has a daughter who insists on going to music school? Or when a heart surgeon's son wants to study art in Paris? The world will frown, but as a parent, you can't.
Here are a few tips to help you separate the parent from the super-achiever you:
Share your memories:
If you're successful in your field, your kids are bound to hear your colleagues, relatives and people around you complimenting you. That's one side of the coin. The other is all the hard work that preceded the success. Tell your kids stories about your struggling years. It'll help them respect your profession and understand what it takes to be successful instead of considering a privileged life, a birthright. It will also inspire them to build their identity in a similar way.
Listen to their dreams:
Once you've laid the groundwork, the next step is to make your kids confident enough to express their dreams for the future. Young ones will often want to join their parents' profession. And it's natural to feel proud and encourage them towards that goal. But explain to your child what being in your line of work means on a day-to-day basis. More than you, your children need to understand the choices they make. Wanting to be famous like mama and papa is not a good enough reason. Making you proud should be an inspiration to excel, not the only motive behind a choice. Only you can give them that faith.
Don't be the 'boss' at home:
Once you leave the office, leave the 'big boss' persona behind. Your achievements must not dominate your role in the family. Make time for everyday stuff like dropping the kids to school, open days and PTA meetings. Sure, you can afford the best tutors and chauffeurs for your kids, but your kids need to look at you and see a parent first and foremost. There's time enough later for them to see the CEO, best-selling author or renowned musician.
Go easy on the pressure:
Kids of successful parents are always comparing themselves to their parents in their heads. They've already decided to at least try and fill in your rather large and demanding shoes. So try easing the pressure on them a little. The more demanding you seem, the greater the pressure children put on themselves. Don't impose your aspirations on your children. It can affect their growth and turn your relationship stressful. Remember, you are an achiever but your child has a long way to go.
Let them decide their path and be secure in the knowledge of your support.