Schools around the country will soon be done with mid-term examinations and the children will be out on a break. This is a worrying time for elders, particularly in the urban centres.

Once out of school, even if it is just for a couple of days, children tend to frequent places dim and dark that are not ideal for them at this age to hang around. Many of them end up engaging in unhelpful activities with their friends. This is the time when some of them sadly do not return to school.

A fortnight-long break so, in a way, is a break too long.

While children in the rural parts of the country head home to help their parents with village chores, those in the towns are let lose to roam about creating trouble for themselves and others. Well, children are children. They are naturally curious about myriad little things as they are growing up. It is the responsibility of parents, therefore, to guide them, to show them the right way.

Talk about parenting to urban Bhutanese and they become aggressively defensive all of a sudden. But the fact is parents in the urban areas are worryingly lax about their parental responsibility. Often children are left on their own while parents go chasing their own pleasures and excitements. Teachers, educators and responsible parents will agree that most of the children in urban Bhutan do not receive adequate parental love and guidance. That’s why a worrying number of them, children, end up on the wrong side of the road.

It is important that parents give enough love and attention to their children, particularly when they are out of school. Take them along to places like library and help them discover the wonders of the world through reading. Go to the movies together. Sit with them and listen to their dreams and ambitions. That’s all they need, a little attention and a feeling that they are being cared and loved. Give them, parents, some of your time. That’s all our children are asking for.

Children, until you go back to school, have fun and use your time meaningfully. Tell your parents to be home early for a meal together at least. Tell them about your goals and aspirations. You will feel gratified that you did it. You will see the difference; you will feel the difference. You will feel the warmth and security of family love return. And that is good.

Parents, look at the faces of your children. Do not let the dreams that shine through their radiant little eyes die of hopelessness. Embrace them, hold them and help them wade through to the shoreside beyond.