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Last week my daughter participated in an Inter -House elocution competition at her school and she had to deliver a speech on the theme of Independence Day. The topic was “What Freedom Means To Me”.

I asked her to write down her thoughts about freedom. The first sentence she wrote, ‘Freedom for me means to get eggs at home’. I was surprised. We have never stopped her from eating anything of her choice; she eats eggs outside home but due to religious reasons we do not get eggs at home, and she has felt the need to express it as absence of freedom.

Further she wrote, ‘I should have the freedom to do whatever I want to after I am back from school. I will do my home-work and studies but at the time I wish to do it. I love swimming but sometimes I would not like to go and I should get that freedom.’ She is an 8 year old child and freedom for her meant to enjoy her time as per her wishes. It was an eye opener for me as a parent. Though I always believed that I have given her the freedom to make choices to choose the sport of her choice, given her the freedom and not pressurise her with studies, have never burdened her with the expectation of performing to her best, yet somewhere she craved for this freedom.

So I asked other parents of her classmates about their children’s views on freedom. One kid wrote, ‘Being free means to do anything I like. Being free to me means is to ride a bicycle for hours. Being free means for me to play till whatever time I like. Being free for me is to paint for hours. But my mother told me that with freedom comes responsibility. So I might cycle for hours but I am responsible to follow all traffic rules and take care of my own safety.’

Another of my daughter’s friend wrote, ‘Being free means to jump in the sea whenever I want to, but I could drown too. So freedom doesn’t mean to do whatever you wish but to do the right thing at the right time.’

After reading to various versions of freedom from a perspective of an 8 year old I concluded that each child knows that they are asking for freedom which their parents might not grant them at sometime but each one had mentioned a sentence wherein it showed that they are aware of the responsibility while exercising freedom.

As a parent I know that I should not allow my daughter to do whatever she wishes always. She can’t take undue advantage of the freedom that I give her as a parent. There has to be a balance. But I have to trust her too. As a parent we need to guide our children and elucidate the significance of responsibility and accountability that comes along with freedom.

So while finalising the speech for the competition, I briefed her about India’s Independence struggle and also told her about the rights and duties as an Indian citizen. I told her about the conditions of the numerous children like her who reside in a free country but are not as fortunate as her to experience the freedom that she enjoys. So she values freedom and it makes her an empathetic human being.

 Here is the speech we wrote jointly and I am happy to share that she now comprehends the true meaning of freedom.

What Freedom means to me!

I used to think that freedom means eating whatever I wish, studying whenever I want to, play whenever I want to. And I do get that freedom at home. But then my parents spoke to me about India’s Independence struggle and how we got our freedom. They told me about our rights and duties as citizens of India. I got to know that India is the largest democratic country in the world.

This 15th August we will be celebrating 70 years of India’s Independence. But still there are many children in our country who do not have the freedom to eat whatever they wish to, study and play whenever they wish to like me. They are not privileged like us to have the comfort of a loving environment and learning opportunities that we get in our school.

Though our country is a democratic country where we have freedom of speech, freedom from inequality, right to education yet many children do not get the opportunity to experience that freedom. So freedom for me in true sense is when all the people of our country experience the freedom that they are entitled to as citizens of India.

Have you asked your children what freedom means to them? Do share your parenting stories.

Happy Independence Day! May the children of India rise above all odds and make our country proud!

Featured image credit: Apherald

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