When young boys and girls go on stage to introduce themselves, I keep reminding them not to make their self-introduction just a formality. I encourage them to open up… speak from their hearts… and speak more and more and more. The idea is to help them get in touch with their thoughts, trust their thoughts and speak up. Because they have never made a conscious effort to get in touch with their thoughts, when they come on stage to talk, they find hardly anything to say. For example, when they come up to talk about their parents, it can go like this if they haven’t ever bothered to get in touch with the whole world around their parents: “Hi friends, my dad is a businessman and my mom is a housewife.”

And, with that, it’s all over!

So, I try to make our young ones realize that they can make an hour-long presentation even on each of their parents. “You dad can be a topic in itself,” I tell them, “Similarly, you mom.”

Initially, they hesitate to open up. It is only when they hear me or someone sharing our own stories, they start opening up… Then, the floodgates open!

For me, the quality of relationship the young ones build with his parents is an important factor in their personality development. “You are young adults now… and, you are able to understand what it does to your self-esteem,” I keep reminding them. “You cannot have a constant friction with your parents and feel good about yourself.”

Young ones having friction with parents is part of their growing up. It’s not only natural, it is healthy, too. All parents need to be honest here… For, they have been in that space once… Been there… Done that! It’s only when parents get in touch with their own growing-up days – and honestly see the friction and rebellion they have had with their own parents – yes, it’s then, that they will find it easy to deal with the friction and rebellion of their own young ones.

I, personally, think this way: When a parent has a rebellious young one at home, it is a good opportunity for the parent to get close to the young one. “It’s not about my son or daughter… It’s about me. It’s about my own growth.”

A 15-year-old boy, who comes from a very low-income family, and, who has constant clashes with his father, has been coming to me for some sort of help… call it counseling or personality development or whatever you like. The young one is here to find his way home!

Yesterday, when a small group of young ones had assembled, this boy went on the stage to speak about his equation with his father. Another boy, who spoke before this one, had spoken very highly about his father. “My father is a great man… He is the one who has been encouraging me to get up when I fall… to never give up on my hopes and dreams… He is the one who encourages me to speak anytime with him, anything I want… He is ready to do anything for my success. He is a great dad.”

And, this 15-year-old, who was now there to talk about his father, had this to say. (He said that in Hindi.): “It just happened last night… My friends and I had planned to spend the night on Pandal-hopping (Visit Ganpati pandals all over the city all through the night). I was excited about it and waiting for the day. At ten in the night, when I asked daddy’s permission, he flatly refused… I pleaded… He did not relent… I pleaded more… He did not show any kindness… I started arguing and screaming… He slapped me hard… I kept crying… I was angry, but, I could not confront him. An hour later, when he had gone off to sleep, I slipped out of the back door to join my friends!”

Everyone in the class was laughing… I said ‘laughing’… not ‘judging’!

“Then? Did you come home before your dad woke up in the morning?”

“No, after he woke up.”

“What was his reaction?”

“No reaction. He did not say anything.”

“What was your reaction… What was going on inside your head… Were you not scared? What if he had not allowed you to come in? What if he had become more violent?”

The boy was silent…

“Tell me, who was right – you or your dad?”

The boy hesitated a little and then murmured, “Both.”

“Why both… Dad couldn’t be right, could he?”

The boy said nothing… Eyes welled up suddenly, and he began to cry!

I went on stage, pulled the young boy close to my heart and said, “Your dad must have not slept the whole night, darling. He wanted you to come home safe… He wanted you to be happy. So, for that, he chose to drop what was ‘not right’ on his part… Now, you do from your end… drop what is ‘not right’ on your part… Make your dad feel safe, happy.”

Life is all about coming home… It’s a Prodigal-son experience for all of us.


Pic.: Anil Bedi


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