One phrase which represents the life and tragedy of every Pakistani is ‘log kya kahein gey’. This four word statement has had a stronger impact on most of our lives than that of the political turmoil and 4 martial laws in our country. From childhood, all of us are taught at home, school, in fact by society as a whole, to consider what other people will think of us. Be it our appearance, our achievements, our lifestyle, or our friendships. A materialistic attentiveness takes over our practical and true self, whose main objective in life is to please and be the envy of others.
As a Pakistani child, our brain is programmed to always think of the opinion others have regarding us. This gradually becomes less of a voluntary act, and more of a reflex action, or a necessity. With time, majority of the things we do in life begin to revolve around what other people will think or say. As we begin our own lives as adults, the fear and approach of ‘log kya kahein gey’ becomes deeply ingrained in our entire being. So is the vicious cycle which would forever govern your life.
One day then, you start a family of your own. There’s a little human being whose life is to be shaped by you and your SO. As that tiny tot grows, you realize that every word you say, every action you carry out will define his personality. You try to do away with your bad habits and negative vibes, such as bad language, pessimism, etc. However, even at this point, you forget to throw out the ‘log kya kahein gey’ mindset. As your child grows, he learns the best of manners, etiquette, culture, tradition, faith, etc., but he also becomes trapped with money-oriented values and people-pleasing disposition.
As a parent, there is a constant worry on your head of how your child will turn out in life, what their future beholds, and also, ‘log kya kahein gey’. You scrutinize everything from your child’s grades, to their friends, approving or disapproving according to the standards and norms set by society. When your son comes home with a bad test result, the more vexing issue at hand is not of your child’s education, but of what your neighbor whose son got 98% will say. When your daughter wishes to sleepover at a friend’s house for her birthday, the deciding factor for you is what will people say when they find out that a young girl was at someone else’s house the whole night.
Slowly, you proceed to impose the same choices and views upon your child which were thrust upon you in your early years, and teach them the basics of superficiality and small-mindedness. You buy them impractical, expensive products, teaching them to look for brand names which impress their friends rather than pragmatism. You teach them to suppress their individuality and conform to the stereotypes approved by society, killing their uniqueness. With time, you re-create the same tragedy which you went through as a child and create another dysfunctional human being whose sole purpose in life is to worry about ‘log kya kahein gey’.
This way, you not only ruin your child’s personality, but also add another conformist robot to society. Rather than focusing on comparing your child, or his wants and dreams with others, teach him to be his own competition. Instead of training him to choose expensive branded clothes, make him work on personal development and self improvement. Forget about what people say as their main job is to criticize and take down others. Let your child break free from the societal norms and negativity and become a strong, independent adult who is able to walk their own path.
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