I am a self-confessed Shah Rukh Khan fan, but more than his looks and acting I have been in awe with him as a person. How he carries himself, his respect for women (on-screen and off-screen), how he uses his razor-sharp wit to steer through difficult situations, the choices he has made in his career and life, his confidence, his business acumen and so much more.
This in no way means I don’t love him as an actor.
When I had first seen the promo of his latest movie Dear Zindagi, I was intrigued by his mature, philosophical side that the trailer promised. This was why I booked tickets to watch the movie on the day of its release.
Though there are many precious life-lessons to be learnt from the movie, it particularly touched the parent in me in ways that reaffirmed my beliefs on some sensitive issues while inspiring me in ways I wish to keep close to my heart for a long time.
I learnt the following parenting lessons from the movie:
1. It is important to leave good memories for our children –
Looking back at our life, sifting through memories, we tightly hold onto the memories that tug at our heartstrings. The lack or abundance of these in our children’s lives in totally up to us and a responsibility of every parent.
Being there with them, living every moment of life to the fullest, sharing and caring would definitely help make it happen.
2. Parents are ordinary human beings –
I have been a strong advocate of this belief from the time I was not a parent. I do not believe in putting parents on a higher pedestal or worshipping them as Gods because when we do that we steal from them the freedom to make mistakes.
Believing that, all our parents do is always right might serve well in the eyes of the society but in real life it puts an undue burden on the parent, often crushing them under a load of guilt for having acted like a mere human.
Loving, respecting and forgiving our parents as ordinary human beings are in the good interest of both the children and their parents.
3. Our children owe an explanation for our every action that affects them –
I am sure many parents will disagree on this one. But, I feel every decision made by a parent that directly or indirectly affects a child’s life should be openly talked about (in an age-appropriate manner) with the child. This opens doors of acceptance for the child, wiping away the cobwebs of doubt, confusion and misunderstandings which can have long-lasting detrimental effects on the young minds.
4. Don’t burden yourself to be everything for your child –
This one is particularly true for single parents like yours truly. I am often told that “You are both the father and mother for your child” implying I ought to play the roles of two parents blended into one.
When the very idea is so taxing, you can well imagine executing it would be not only stressful but also unfair to the single parent. It’s a fact that single parents shoulder a pile of responsibilities and a still larger heap of expectations on their shoulders from their offspring and also the society. But, that need not be the case.
Being a parent (single or not) need not feel like a burden if we choose to be just who we are and play the role of being a nurturer, friend, philosopher and a coach to our children in the simplest yet truest of ways.
5. Our children’s agitation is often a cry for help –
This realization dawned on me only recently. Watching this message unfold so powerfully in Dear Zindagi in Kaira’s (Alia Bhatt’s character) behaviour has made me resolve to always be patient with my child when she is angry, crying, yelling or expressing any of the big, negative emotions. What appears as our children’s acts of disrespect are in fact their cries for help because they are in pain, somewhere deep within.
6. Forgive our children and seek their forgiveness –
The unexpressed apologies have a way of multiplying the distance between two people in a relationship. This applies to parents and children too. Though very often parents fail to (or rather fail to see the need to) apologize to their children once they grow up, that needs to be changed for a happy, love-filled, peaceful co-existence of the two generations. Let’s stop, recycle our beliefs, see them in a new light and renew the understanding to foster strong bonds with our children.
7. Set Free –
Set your children free from unexpected expectations. Grant them the freedom to define their own territories, carve their own niche in fields they love. And most importantly never evaluate their success with comparisons or the age-old yardstick of being settled in life with good grades, a degree from a celebrated university, a high-paying job or a steady relationship for that matter.
At the same time, as a parent, remember to lead a fulfilling life of your own. Don’t sacrifice yourself, your well-being because as a role model we need to teach our children to value themselves by modelling it ourselves.
Dear Zindagi is a beautiful movie that inspires you to look at your life and relationships with a new perspective while yearning for a charming therapist like Dr Jehangir Khan (played by Shah Rukh Khan) to guide you through when you’re stuck.
The song on my mind: Love you Zindagi ~ Dear Zindagi