Parenting does not end with your child growing up into an adult. It’s a long-term commitment a parent makes for their child’s wellbeing
Before going to the details of parenting, let me ask you: What is it that concerns you most about your child? I am sure most of you will say you ‘worry’ too much about them and some of you will deny it. Then again an impartial observation shows that ‘worry’ is becoming a part of modern day parenting. Parenting is almost like a survival game, where every day is achievement level for the parents with new challenges for the next day. With so much information around, the daily jumping through the hoops needs exact calculations—every movement needs to be measured and calculated exactly. Whether it is helping your children avoid junk food or constantly monitoring their activities or even attempting to control them. Sometimes this over-protectiveness backfires. Parents, in their constant efforts to protect their children from anything ‘bad’—be it food, TV/ internet, their company etc—have either made their children weak, or turned them into rebels without a cause. Modern day parenting is becoming very confusing with everyone becoming an expert on parenting. We all know there is no right or wrong way of parenting. Nor is there an effective blue print, as every parent-child relationship is unique. Every individual is different and every child comes with an attitude right from the beginning. They have their own likes and dislikes.
I can personally vouch for this, because last year when I went to Boston to spend some time with my younger son, he told me that his five month old daughter refused to drink milk from a normal bottle right from the beginning. I did not believe him, but when I saw him feeding his daughter with a Sippy cup even at that age, I was surprised. So every child is different and every parent and their parenting style is different.
Contrary to general beliefs, parenting is not defined by how soon you send your children to school. Neither is parenting defined by admitting children in fancy schools or enrolling them in numerous extra-curricular activities. Parenting is all about creating a special bond with your children from an early age that is above material needs. It is important to understand children’s performance depending on how much time they spend with their parents. It also depends on the happiness of their parents and their presence in their children’s troubled and happy times.
Understand your children
Understanding your children is the reality and need of the times. Setting the bar of their children’s achievement unrealistically high does not help parents to be realistic.
Our expectation of our children today is not realistic. We punish them for not performing well even though they have scored above 70 percent just because your neighbor’s child has scored 71 percent. Instead it is the time to share his/her happiness and be satisfied with what s/he has scored, because s/he has performed his/her best. Encourage them. Be happy for what they have done. Just keep in mind that a fish will only swim well in water, you cannot teach it to climb a tree. Each child has his/her own specialty. Let them pursue it. Just understand them better.
Understanding their troubles, wherever it may be—in school, with friends or just going through a rough patch in time—is essential for parents. It is always a good idea for parents to show their solidarity with their children. If you are not supporting your children, support them when they get mad, or misbehave with verbal communications. This is more effective than reacting physically. If you are reacting physically, you are remembering how your parents raised you, and automatically following it.
If you are guilty of beating up your children, just think parenting is not rocket science. Make sure that you don’t beat up your children, yell at them or bribe them. You are the role model for your children just like your parents were your role models. Try and understand your child’s intent behind bad behavior. This is just half the battle won. The other half is helping them understand and learn from their mistakes. For that you need to let them make some mistakes, small ones at that.
If you become angry at the slightest provocation, your children will take is as a normal behavior and will imitate you. Shouting, getting angry and insulting people will set a very bad example. You also have to keep in mind that you need to spend some time with your children. Just switching off the computer, smartphones or TV will provide you with the much-needed quality time to spend with your children. While you are at it, also try and teach them patience.
It is easy. Just play games with them that need patience. Like carrom board, monopoly, ludo, chess or even game of life. At times when computer games have inundated our lives, these games are a breadth of fresh air. Just be aware that once you start spending time with your children, you do not stop it just because you are bored or you think your children have grown up. Make a point of responding properly to your children when they demand your time. Take it as an investment in the future of your child. Parenting is easy if you take it in a stride and difficult if you take it as a burden.
There are difficult times, but you do not have to give in, just to make your life easy. Handing your toddler tablet or giving them candies and sweets, just so you can spend time on your computer or cell phone, is not the right way of parenting. Bribes might make life easier for the moment, but later on in your life, it is going to be a headache for you. The other thing you need to keep in mind is not insisting on keeping limits. Look for a happy medium between being over strict and being far too lenient. Don’t think about controlling your child. The solution is to make sure that the limits and consequences are for unacceptable behavior only. It is always a good idea to set limits in consultation with your child. After all you have to tread very carefully when reminding children how to behave and become responsible citizens.
Finally, I have noticed that today’s parents want quick result in everything, even in parenting. The sad thing is there is no shortcut or quick fixes to parenting. Parenting does not end with your child growing up into an adult. It’s a long-term commitment a parent makes for their child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual wellbeing.
Let’s face it—parenting is all about our children, not about us. Parenting demands patience. It requires a great deal of sacrifice too. The formula that worked for me was children first. Now that is not too difficult to follow, right parents?
Pokharel is an educationist and author of several children’s books