Thursday, June 05, 2008

The latchkey child

-By Swetha Amit
She turned the lock of the door with the key held firmly in her hand. In she walked with her school satchel weighing on her delicate shoulders. There was no one except the door mat that boldly spelt the word ‘Welcome’. As she stepped inside her cozy home, the cold walls with a picture or two stared back at her. Just when about to call out to her mother, does she realize the latter is engrossed in the drilling corporate drone.

There was none to pour out her hard day’s woes to. None to vent her feelings oscillating between joy and sorrow. The lonely afternoon is often spent in completion of her home work or sometimes playing with the neighborhood kids. Yet again she walks back home, hopeful of seeing a smiling parent opening the door. Or sometimes it’s a return of the empty syndrome again. Engrossed in a book, logging on to the virtual world or hooking on to the television are the activities inserted during the few hours of anticipated wait for her parents.

Hearing the sound of the impatient keys to open the door, her droopy face is replaced with a vibrant smile enough to give the sparklers a stiff competition. One cannot help noticing the great game of lock and key playing in the minds of the young ones physically and psychologically.
Such is the increasing instance of what is termed as the ‘latchkey child’.

The nuclear family lifestyles of the current scenario have alienated children from growing up amidst elders. Not to mention the time and distance factor posing a threat to reaching out to one another on a frequent basis. The career mindedness propels many couples to delay in starting their families and restricting it to only one child in most cases. The concept of dual couple working has grown on a large sale with the ever increasing inflation and coping up with the high maintenance and demands.

Despite all this is a huge ‘price’ that many parents have to pay ironically as one gains insight into the negative impacts on such children’s personality development over the years.

The childhood factor is enticed away as they are forcibly led into adulthood with many responsibilities at a tender age. A flurry of instructions of not opening the door to strangers and handling them in a shrewd manner can prove to be taxing on the tender minds which ideally should be focusing on nothing other than academics and extra curricular activities.

The adolescent stage especially is the worst affected. Dealing with mood swings similar to a pendulum, the inexplicable changes, and the anxieties relating to peers, physical appearances and studies can prove to be an arduous task when dealt with in solitude.

Longing for a listening ear drives such youth either in a wrong direction or to a mode of insecurity.

Used to their privacy over the years instigates many to give up sharing their space to occasional visitors. Lack of social interaction at times can lead to a peculiar aloofness and being reticent. Frustration builds in gradually like creeper growing on walls of pretty houses that ultimately snatches the beauty of the domesticated abode.

Sometimes such pent up annoyance towards parents for not having been there manifests itself into neglecting the former during their old age. A rebellious stance is established slowly which is exhibited in refusing to comply with their instructions over a period of time and displeasing them at every given opportunity. Or it drives one to withdraw into a shell on an eternal basis. The latter portray a lack of self confidence and uncertainty in every step of their life. Sometimes a streak of immaturity is depicted as they resort to childish means in order to seek attention. Self centeredness is another trait found amongst such youth.

It is true that many young individuals turn out to be fiercely independent which at times is a blessing. However it results in an alarming situation where the parents are not approached for even a vital decision.

The guilt feeling and the desperate attempts to make up for those years go in vain as the realization of ‘being too late’ dawns in. However one cannot ignore the factor of trying to make ends meet or planning for the future. The lack of such communication towards their children is what creates a vacuum in the relationship.

Attempts to spend quality time with children on weekends and after work on week days is bound to assure the child that he/she is wanted and cared for. Taking keen interest in the youngster’s activities and achievements can work wonders in building a strong bond instead of brooding over office politics and bringing work home. Addressing every issue with sensitivity is indeed essential to develop a strong minded individual of the next generation. Sometimes inviting grandparents can prove to be a joyful expedition for both the young and the aged and killing the loneliness element to a large extent. Or even adopting a pet can drive the blue spells away.

Certain things in life compel one to drive their kith and kin into unavoidable circumstances. Yet the ‘key’ to a successful balance between family and work life lies in ‘latching’ on to the right note that will ‘unlock’ the unfounded fears within.
Written for www.msn.co.in
Appeared as Editors' choice and story of the day

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Mukundhan said...

I am extremely previleged to have grown up in a large family. Thankfully, I wasn't a 'latchkey child'. I am personally not in favour of women working if they cannot strike a work-life balance. It is ok if they can come back from work and spend time with their kids and family. I would wish a woman to be independent, but not at the expense of attending to her husband and children.
I have made up my mind that i won't marry a working woman. Let us see if my wish works out ;-).
It's amazing to see that we take a similar stance on most issues. And i am happy to see someone sharing my view.
Keep writing.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Ayesha Parveen said...

hi,
you have expressed it very well. a neglected child often carries emotional hurt, right into adulthood.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

@Mukundh:Thanks.:-)In the current trend,women fiercely guard their independance especially in the economic department. However what they fail to realize is that the pursuit of their dreams and ambitions becomes a nightmare for their children. I guess if money isnt the issue,various alternatives like work from home/part time can be considered which can bring about a perfect family-work balance.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

@Ayesha:Thanks.:-)Its true that being emotionally hurt leaves deeper psychological scars than the physical wounds that we encounter.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Comments on MSN:

GS - Delhi on 6/6/2008 2:34:08 PM
It really pumps some Oxygen in the body of mentaly dead people, who work day and night for selfpleasure,ambitions and lastly for money.

11:34 PM  

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