Stop expecting children to process pain or loss like adults.

By the way, how you treat them now, will define how they behave for the rest of their lives.

Bhavna Rana
Oct 20, 2021 · 7 min read

My ex-husband’s family had some weird habits and nuances (like all families do). They didn’t discuss emotions or address things face to face, things that didn’t work out in the best interest of everyone.

There were a lot of rulings or verdicts and bold statements made in front of onlookers instead of in private or discussed in person. And a lot of sweeping things under the rug, a lot of derogatory snide remarks with the intent that the listener suck it all in and not react in the moment.

I come from a very tough household where expressing emotions, standing up for what’s right and giving back shit in full to dogmatic idiots was a norm taught from childhood.

When I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble in school. Throughout school, if you’ll believe me. I was taught to live righteously and to stand up for the weak. I was taught to stand back up if I ever fall and never to self-pity. So I learnt young what assholes look and sound like and yet how never to tarnish my families name while standing up to bullies.

Books taught me the law of omertà. I’m a Mario Puzo fan through and through. And I taught it to my ex-husband too, among other things that i taught him.

While adults can differentiate between what is said for show and what is said as a remark. Or what is said and what is left unsaid, kids need the right and honest explanation of everything. Especially that concerning them.

That’s how I’ve addressed kids in my life, all my life. And to a lot of peoples surprise, kids love me! No kidding. In fact young adults in general too. I think it’s because of my actions as I’ve always emulated on to others, the way I want to be conducted. And I’m always dead honest with kids, with a side of silly jokes. So I don’t come across as bullying them into a value system of course!

I never liked being treated like a child. I never wanted to be treated less than intelligent, with the ability to comprehend complex emotions, situations and I always wished in my own time, someone had told me things, ways of life, civil conduct, about false pride and all those saying like ‘never judge a book by its cover’ in conversation.

My dad did. A lot. He spent a lot of time with us when we were kids and as adults, telling us stories, playing out hypothetical situations and preparing us for how to act or behave in crises of various kinds. He is the reason I am empathetic and polite, outright honest and mentally tough (among other things). But of course, when we’re growing up, we make our own set of mistakes and have our own set of learnings as well, and in spite how much ever our parents may try to shelter us, some things we learn my breaking our heart, our bones, our trust in others and so on.

I always advocated that we need to teach the next generation a little more, a little earlier, a little more honestly and the tradition of giving kids time, attention and answering their absurd questions is what helps them prep for things in their own lives.

Because even my ex-husband, picked up a lot of his own behaviour from observing those he wanted to emulate or grow into. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you can honestly distinguish between good and bad behaviour, lifestyle choices and conduct. Because if you’ve had a overworked father who was able to provide well for his family but at the cost of his availability, been youngest of three kids seeking love, attention and recognition all your life that was only validated by house keepers and staff and had a self absorbed mother who was always emotionally unavailable, the power of observation and mimicking is nothing short of a life saver.

But kids aren’t born with that skill. Nor do they develop the cunning to observe, self reflect and adopt very early in life. So in my ex-family’s house that was always missing. The kids learnt by looking at videos on Youtube and Tik-Tok and they emulated that behaviour. They saw feuds in TV serials and how different characters acted and reacted and that unfortunately must have mystified their sense of reality. And to top that, questions weren’t encouraged. And because no one helped them processes this overload of unsaid feeling, emotions and pent-up energy, almost to the point where they didn’t even know how to think or form original opinions as the elders and men in the house ruled with an iron fist and by quieting down anyone who did try to speak up.

Let me clarify – The parents of the two kids who were in the same city as us, did spend time with their kids and despite their financial position, they did try to do what’s best for them. Buying them ton of toys, things to eat, getting them extra classes after school, even on annual holiday (so what if it was the same place year on year). They did what was in their capacity. But the question arises, how do ones actions ensure the best growth and development of young and impressionable minds when your own values are leant from watching TV or how actors behave in your situation in movies and dramas?

Especially because a lot of time in the day – their parents spent with their own anxiety and emotional burdens that caged them. Secluded, spending time shopping online, cheating, filling the house with one useless item or toy after the other. Often masked as gifts for their children, trying to raise the standards of living or emulating the ‘fake it till you make it’ attitude in full.

Ok, I’ve abused the word ‘emulate’ thus far. But so what?

This brings me to why I decided to journal this. A few days back, I got a call from an unknown number. I picked up to hear the voice of GG, one of my ex-sister in-law’s daughter’s who tried to prank call me by using the opening line ‘kya aap ke pass Airtel fixed line hai?’.. at which point I cut the call and added yet another number to the list of blocked numbers in my phone. This is the second time since the lockdown this year, that this has happened.

It pains my heart. The kids are innocent. And I do miss them. I did my best to teach them things, like proper table manners, eating with a fork and knife, how to eat a salad or a full English breakfast, encouraging them to read when they came snooping through my books collection, paying for kathak classes, or teaching them how to sit in the front of the car meant putting on a seatbelt (and why) and where it was located even! Or how it was latched even!! Sheesh!

I lost 4 kids I was fond of or attached to. Just like I lost my access to Marshal. I was emotionally invested. No, and I don’t consider them at the same level, my pup’s obviously ranked higher… (kidding!) and no, by losing access I don’t mean someone imposed it on me, they became collateral i can never look back to, that’s all.

There was so much I wanted to do for them. So much to show them. So much life advice I wish I shared with them. Which obviously others weren’t comprehending correctly in that house in my opinion... So the kids could grow up to be braver, more confident and more comfortable in their own mind and body, more disillusioned by lies and the shit that doesn’t matter in life… (clothes, objects, superficiality, titles etc.)..

But when I decided not to be accessible by them – my ex-family, to liberate myself from their prying and judgemental eyes and cruel words across the web and phone, it was a small price to pay. For my own sanity.

I’m not psychotic, I have feelings and I wish I could keep in touch with them and check in with them once in a while. Like I do with all my other younger cousins and my niece. Because that’s what sane people do. Form bonds that nurture and nourish others, especially the younger ones. Five – six years of seeing these kids grow up after all is not a joke.

But here’s to burring my tension – how I wish someone explained to them that despite someone being among their favourites, sometimes people drift apart, how one is not supposed to disturb others or try to reach out. About loss. About pain. About boundaries that didn’t make sense but were necessary.

We can’t sweep the honesty and innocence of emotions they feel under the rug along with the other things we try to as adults. Because these pent up feelings and misguided beliefs is what makes the foundation of cruelty and devious behaviour in adulthood (or so I believe). Because otherwise people try to rewrite things by repeating false claims and stories to themselves and others.. to be able to live with themselves and those around them.

Because that’s what differentiates adults from kids, their comprehension of things and events and our patience from time to time to be able to sit and explain things like marriage, divorces and patriarchy and matriarchy well before they fall victim to them.

Another one bites the dust.

I hope you enjoyed my blog! Please leave your comments below and let me know what you think? This is my attempt to channel all my negative energy from bad experiences and convert them into something usable by those who may be facing something similar in their lives!

What not to do

Hacks and knack for doing the wrong things to reaching the right answers. Mail us for things you want to see ‘what-not-to-do’ lists for.

Bhavna Rana

Written by

Hyperactive,🎗resilient. Notorious for calling out BS. Talks innovation & trends. Illustrator & certified counselor. Curating lists by channelling negativity.

What not to do

Hacks and knack for doing the wrong things to reaching the right answers. Mail us for things you want to see ‘what-not-to-do’ lists for.