It was a usual day in Pooja’s third A class. A bunch of 8 year olds looking at her with anticipation as to when their roll numbers would be called and they would shout,”Present Miss”.
As Pooja was calling out the roll numbers, she again noticed that Tia, one of her bright students, was sitting on the last bench by the window and all alone. Normally, a very active participant in all class activities, Tia had become withdrawn since the last 2 months or so. Even Tia’s friends had once told Pooja that she doesn’t talk much these days.
After the class got over, Pooja went to Tia and asked her, “What’s the matter child? You can tell me.”
Tia just told her, “I’m scared to go home.” And she started sobbing. Pooja tried to console her and then took her to Shruti, one of the counsellors of the school.
At the end of the day, Shruti asked Pooja to arrange a meeting with Tia’s parents.
The next day, a very anxious Nisha and Rohan Mehta came to meet Pooja, who then sent them to meet the counsellor. As they were seated across Shruti, she began,” Good morning, Mr and Mrs Mehta. I’m Shruti, one of the counsellors in the school. Yesterday, Tia’s class teacher got her to me crying uncontrollably. When I spoke to her she told me that she’s scared to go home. Do you know the reason why?”
Nisha and Rohan were very shocked to hear that. Nisha said,”But how is it possible ma’am? Tia is our only daughter and we both love her a lot. There’s no one else at home. And the maid does her work while Tia is at school. Also, I personally come to pick her and drop her to school.”
Shruti said, “Okay, you are taking adequate measures to protect her from physical abuse. But what about mental abuse?”
Rohan then asked, “What do you mean by that ma’am?”
“Haven’t you both noticed any differences in her lately?”, Shruti asked.
Nisha said, “Yes, she’s quieter than usual. And very moody. Sometimes, she cries for no reason at all. But I dismissed this thinking she must have fought with her friends at school or she must have done some mistakes in her homework. She likes to be perfect in everything.”
Shruti then said,”Do you know what else she told me? She said that mom and dad are constantly shouting at each other..”
Both Rohan and Nisha were quite embarrassed on hearing that.
Rohan said, “Yes, that is true. We are having financial issues these days and the stress of it gets to us. So we end up fighting with each other a lot.”
Nisha added, “Yes. It sometimes becomes very nasty and we end up in a horrible verbal abuse..”
Shruti then said, “So atleast you both accept that you fight. But your war of words is affecting Tia’s young and innocent mind in a way you cannot even imagine. She thinks that today you both are yelling at each other, tomorrow you will yell at her too. That is why she’s getting scared. She’s slipping into the early stages of depression. Her withdrawal from her surroundings, her constant mood swings, no interest in the things she normally loved doing; all these point to that.”
Nisha and Rohan were visibly upset. “What do we do now?”, Nisha asked.
“You both need to tone down a little. I agree that there are various problems in all households. But I think you can choose to sort it in a more amicable way. You both are educated adults. Sort out your differences in a more civilised way rather than shouting and spoiling your daughter’s future. You both will have to really work hard for this before her condition worsens. And I will be talking to her everyday so that she will tell me whether you guys are improving or no.” Shruti replied.
Rohan and Nisha left after promising Shruti to try their best and help Tia overcome her fear and bring back the cheerful girl that she was before.
Depression is on the rise in children and teenagers. We know the common causes like sexual abuse, physical and cyber bullying and substance abuse among others. But a disturbed family environment is also one of them.
So the next time when you fight with your spouse in front of your kids, do keep this in mind.
Pic courtesy : Google images
Author’s note : This post first appeared on mycity4kids parenting platform.