Views & Reviews
Happy Children’s Day
“The children of today will make the India of tomorrow. The way we bring them up will determine the future of the country.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
Introduction: Children’s Day is an event celebrated on various days in many places around the world. International Children’s Day is celebrated on June 1 and Universal Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20. These holidays are simply set to honour children and minors. In India, Children’s Day is celebrated on November 14 every year. This date marks the birth anniversary of independent India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Children’s day is celebrated on this day in recognition of his lifelong fondness and work for children. He always regarded all children with affection and love, and was well known for being likeable to children. Children also loved him very much and called him “Chacha Nehru” (“Chacha” meaning uncle, younger brother or father).
Jesus Loved Children: Children instinctively gravitate to love. They seem to have a sixth sense about a person’s nature. Perhaps because children are so helpless at this stage of development, this attraction is a built-in survival mechanism. Or, maybe children have a greater sense of awareness that compensates for their vulnerability. Whatever the truth may be, because they are pure, innocent and forgiving, children are close to the kingdom of heaven.
As word spread of Jesus’ miraculous healings, people began to bring their young children to him. The apostles however, discouraged this practice, perhaps because they did not think children were important enough for Jesus to bother with. In Mathew 19:13 we are told that Jesus scolds the apostles, and asks that the children be brought to him saying, “For such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Children evoke deeply rooted and sometimes unconscious feelings. When in their presence, it is interesting to see how adults react to these little beings. Many cannot help but become joyous, smiling and regressing to “baby talk” language in an attempt to communicate. Others become nervous, wary of losing control and don’t know quite how to act. And still some become like children themselves. They kneel and enter the world of the child, a grace-like state of innocence, losing their adult ego in the process. The grown-up world, with all its problems, for a moment disappears. They come close to the kingdom of heaven.
Loving children simply means you have not lost your connection to your original innocence. Children reflect that part of you that is still innocent, loving and forgiving. If you can relate to these qualities in a child, you can certainly reconnect to them within yourself. Children give you permission to relate to a fellow child of God without the mask of your ego, with unconditional love, your true essence. Children, because they are full of love, are inherently successful.
Children Suffer: In all parts of the world, tragically, there are children who are going to have short lives and in many parts of the world those children are going to die in pain and with other distressing symptoms. Regrettably, not all conditions can be cured. However, many children with life-limiting conditions will live for years, if not decades. Currently, 20 Million children around the world can benefit from palliative care, but access to services remains an issue. Children are particularly at risk of inadequate pain management due to age related factors, limited access to essential medicines and misconceptions about how to effectively treat their pain. These vulnerable children and families are suffering. They are largely invisible. But for those who are receiving care, the results are extraordinary.
Children’s palliative care is a response to the suffering of a child and their family facing life-threatening conditions. It’s holistic, looking at the body, mind and spirit within the social and cultural context. It cares for the child from the time of diagnosis until death, and after death it does bereavement support for the family. These remarkable stories show young people finding hope, love, joy and attainment in the face of the inevitable. Governments all around the world should wake up and recognise the needs of these children.
What can we do? Instead of celebrating Children’s Day with pomposity in schools and hostels, why not bring a difference into the lives of children who are unprivileged. While celebrating being a child, the fortunate ones should be reminded about their good fortune to have all that they are endowed with, while there are others who can barely feed or clothe themselves.
Thus, while this day was globally instituted to provide children with basic Rights, may be one can make a difference to a child’s life by doing something special. Parties and celebrations happen all the time, but how about taking the fortunate children to homes that shelter street children and have them befriend those kids, donating clothes, toys, stationery, books, etc.,
Counselling the Children: When one thinks of counselling what usually comes to the mind is the adult who may be in need of it. To be counselling a child may appear strange. But all the same children too require psychological help; may be only in some cases it is directly affecting them but indirectly it is affecting them in most cases. For our consideration we could perhaps take children in their late childhood where we typically need a kind of directive counselling. We just cannot ignore the early childhood too, for, there too we encounter problems either with the children themselves or with the people who care for them or with both, which is the case most of the time.
Counselling the child requires a lot of knack and skills, first of all to win over the confidence of the child if he is particularly too shy to relate to you. It may take a few sessions before the child becomes free with you. Providing an emotional catharsis for the child is essential, either by talking, play therapy, or by role-playing.
Since in most cases the child is only an ‘identified patient’ with the understanding that the parents (elders) are the real patients, it is good to locate the real patient and focus the attention on that person. Here more than anything else the attitude of the parents needs to be changed; then slowly the maladaptive coping skills of dealing with the problem-children can be dealt with. Very many times starting with the child counselling, we may end up with family counselling because a child is a part of the family system and treating a subsystem of parent-child relationship alone will not be enough for the total well-being. One has to consider the whole family system with all its subsystems. Therefore, an overall approach to child counselling is strongly recommended.
Conclusion: All parents desire happiness for their children through guiding them with love, time and effort to reach success. Sometimes parents tend to forget the most important thing which needs to be provided to children which is LOVE. Some studies proved that lack of parental warmth and love can make children more stressed, since parents put too much pressure on them to succeed without balancing it with affection. This can create health risks for children. If the child has love from parental figures, they may be more protected from the impact of the abuse on adult biological risk for health problems, than those who don’t have that loving adult in their life. Love and affection help children to feel secure regardless of accomplishments. This builds their confidence and self-esteem. May the Children’s Day prove their moral right to be loved. Happy Children’s Day!
“As they grow up, unfortunately, their natural freedom is often eclipsed by the teaching and behaviour of elders. At school, they learn many things, which are no doubt useful, but they gradually forget that essential thing to be human and kind, playful and make life richer for ourselves and others.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
Rev. Fr. C. Joseph
Counsellor – St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous) Jakhama, Nagaland