We begin with a clear assumption that, “Our Children are innately intelligent and if we let them, they will choose wisely.”
Today I share how as parents we live under certain Myths. Yes, I was under them for a while but knowing them and demystifying them has reduced the stress in Parenting my two sons (17 and 12, respectively).
As parents we burden ourselves with so many shoulds.
It may immediately trigger few memories, few situations may dawn on you as resonating. It will be exciting to understand how they entrap you and truckloads of fun, once you set yourself and your kids free!
We parents have to know everything and provide all that our Children demand.
If we honestly look at this big world, it is humanly not possible to know everything. Let us learn the Magic words.
‘I don’t know but we can find out.’
Putting yourself in the situation, where you must have answers to everything does two things.
You set yourself up for defensiveness each time you come across a piece of information you don’t know or you have heard for the first time. Instead of accepting a new possibility you end up feeling uncomfortable.
You instill in your children an unreasonable expectation too. Only if they know everything, they are smart/intelligent/worthy is the message shared. In this ever expanding world of updates and upgrades, there will always be something you (inevitably) don’t know.
As soon as you shed this preoccupation of being a Know all, you can easily say “Never heard about this, come let us find out what it is all about.”
This brings an easy comfort between both of you and and understanding that it is okay to seek new stuff that we heard about.
We don’t have to know everything.
I must provide all that my children desire.
Yes, we would like to Give the World to our Children but there are times, when certain things are out of our reach. Let us have the courage to gently accept and declare ‘At the moment, this is not likely.’
We are easily able to deny things like chocolates and cola drinks for we can plead health reasons until the manipulations begin ‘Next door kid has it!’
‘Everyone has it.’ Now, it gets a bit difficult. At times, heavy loans are incurred by parents in order to send the children away for educational degree. Sometimes the demands for branded stuff reigns heavy. We rather work on reducing our own expenses and needs to meet theirs. We, through this behaviour, also create a sense of entitlement in the children that others must work to fulfill their wishes.
This is among the top stressor for parents today. Continuously trying to meet their demands in limited incomes they have.
I suggest to keep the communication channels clear and open,
‘We cannot afford this and so just now it is not possible.’
‘My funds allow this line of Action for your Career, beyond that it will stretch our Resources!’
Allow your child to be a Co-participant as daily decisions of expenses are made. Let them see you efficiently allocate Resources as per your needs. Postpone some for later date. Prioritize some for now.
These are effective lessons every individual needs as they are growing up.
I have to ‘Rescue’ my child from tricky situations.
This pattern makes us ‘Whatsappie swappie’ parents.
How many times have we swapped homework on this media?
This is just one example. If we observe closely, we will come across many situations where we have been the ‘Rescuer’.
Let us learn to know ‘Who owns the problem?’ and Cultivate the patience to allow the owner to deal with it.
We, as parents, mutually decided to develop a
*Just Hover* Philosophy.
When the Child absolutely needs it, we step in.
If he has fever, infection, I cannot be detached. I am involved. I step in.
If it is academics he /she can pull off, I step out.
During exams, I don’t interrupt the process but supervise (Hover).
It has gone a long way in teaching my kids Independent Thinking and Action.
As I stay away but within reach, they learn to figure out their strategies to solve a problem at hand. It is their precious space of emotional development but so often we jump in with suggestions, criticism and advice!
It plays out in academics. As a child is breaking and gaining pronunciations & computations, we interrupt with impatience. Given more seconds or days, child would pick up. Instead we dump our disappointment on them ‘See your cousin/brother/sister reads so fast!’
Again you do two things
You fail to identify that each process has its own trajectory, its own pace, its own weaving. You are the one feeling impatient and inadequate for the teacher or neighbour will sneer at you. You Rob the child of this process. You rush them. Permanently telling them they must haste.
You instil in the child a feeling of inadequacy, inability to cope, to come up to your expectation.
They then hand over their processes to others and wait to be directed.
In social situations too, so often mothers speak on behalf of their progeny. It begins with introducing their names, parroting their recent achievements and goes on till asking for job openings.
One wonders why the child never grows up. Every problem they walked into, their parents rushed with oars.
They never made their own oars nor how to row their boat!
Parents! Eliminate this stress of being your child’s lifeline. Unless there is physical abuse or vicious put downs, let them go forth and strive in situations on their own. Be there, before or after. Sharing inputs, strategies, modus operandis.
Let them buy their own oars and learn to figure out how to row.
I have seen Umpteen number of mothers jumping in defensive for their 40-year old sons!
They never realise they are individuals and can fend for themselves! Parents continue to defend, explain away or point out clever reasons instead of simply shrugging and stating ‘Their life, their choice!’
If my child is seen Reading and Writing something, he is creatively occupied.
While reading and writing is a vital form of gaining and expression of knowledge, do gently ask.
Is that the only way Learning happens?
Is our insistence on constant reading/ writing creating in a child some form of Resistance?
How much time do I read and write to model the same behaviours in the Child?
Observe your child, how does he/she absorb knowledge?
Is he an audio visual person?
Are we ready to accept that?
Are we willing to make provisions for this new format if it emerges?
So much importance is laid on paper-pencil-degree based education that when a child expresses a dislike to written/ text format and shows inclination towards sports, dance, music, cooking, parents feel uncomfortable.
It is a hobby, that will not give jobs/money!
Look around and observe people. Do all people earn one way only?
Are all well paying jobs only desk jobs?
So many relationships are spoiled at the altar of Education, under the guise of proper education. So many children grow up resenting their parents simply because they had to pursue that which they did not want to. The power struggle is paid dearly by both parties.
I don’t care about marks… Many parents insist.
Yet come tenth grade results and they line up for college admissions to Arts, Science and Commerce.
A unique set of talents are rarely looked at, rarely nurtured.
If only parents were to release this myth and observe how the child unfolds, and open doors in the directions they want…!
We have to be Consistent parents in front of the children.
While it sounds good, we discovered differently.
Let us say, my son wants to go get wet in rains on a Saturday.
I feel worried he may catch a cold.
My husband is okay with it. If I insist on my husband joining me, would it not be inauthentic on his part to be dishonest to his feelings?
Would we not be Ganging up against the child to influence him?
Would he not see through it?
Would he not learn to use it?
Don’t they usually?
Here is what we do.
Each one of us authentically states why we may have different views and leave it on the Child.
I shared, ‘You may fall sick.’
Dad : ‘I am okay if you do.’
Shahaan, then, decides to get wet with ‘I will apply essential oils and Gargle with warm water’.
He gets two honest opinions. He learns ‘Choice has consequences. ‘
‘He learns decision making.’
To be able to do this, we must maturely realise we are different. However as parents we feel this excruciating need to show a joint front. Then it becomes ‘You’ ‘Them’ gangs. Often a partner complains, the other spouse spoils the children or is responsible for an undesirable behaviour. Tussle begins when the more powerful of the parent compels the other to join in. The child feels cornered and smartly learns to discern who is not completely honest. S/he learns to use it wisely much to the consternation of the family.
Manipulations are learned herein.
We also need to allow each one of us to opine authentically.
Free yourself of this stress to be consistent with your partner.
State your side with consequences.
The child will pick up Authenticity if it is in observation all the time.
I have to entertain my child all the time.
You do not have to, not all the time. It is an important myth to break, if you wish to have an individual who learns to self-regulate and rely on their own company and depend on their own resources.
The idea is to Help him or her take more and more decisions on their own. Yes, we can look for ideas to explore different experiences but to constantly feel under obligation to keep them occupied every minute, arrange their circumstances can be very daunting!
I understand the pressure internet creates on new parents today for creating an intelligent, smart child. Parents want to engage them in activities as young as one year!
For God’s sake, let them crawl and coo happily.
Child knows how to entertain self until you step in with your ideas of what constitutes positive engagement.
Gurgle with them Please!
Every minute engagement is exhausting. Sometimes just gazing at a passing ant is stimulating to the child. Let them be.
You too, please stop surfing every child routine for classes, group activities and what not. Hug your baby and sleep. That will be immensely bonding….
I feel like asking ‘You looking for yourself to engage or your child?’
We must never be Annoyed, irritated or yell at the children.
While this is the ideal we are all striving for, is it truly possible? This is a question we need to ask daily or hourly till we realise this myth.
Like a certain messiah I can ask impetuously, “Is there a single parent on this earth who has not lost temper or yelled?”
It is unfair on the parent’s part to, YELL!
But is there one who doesn’t or didn’t at some point of time in their life while dealing with children?
Look at a typical mother, she is dealing with multi-nonsense. Cooking, cleaning, arranging, decision making, handling people, their needs, expectations, functions, ceremonies, shopping… The list is endless.
In all this, as a human, when the other human entrusted to her, begins acting weird, creating impediments, twisting her already loaded state, touches the myths she carries, she is bound to explode.
Children forgive if you go back, hug and make friends again.
Children harbour resentment only when the yelling episode is considered a consistent birth-right and needs no explanation or contrition.
When I yell, I simply do.
When the storm passes, I apologise.
They get to do the same.
What relief that is in my family.
Children must not throw temper Tantrums or Cry. It is highly embarrassing and signifies bad parenting.
Children throw tantrums because ground rules have not been laid out. They want something. You don’t want to give them. So far so good.
Trouble begins with embarrassment, for your social personality begins incorporating “What will this person in front of me, around me, think?”
If they have children, they understand.
If they don’t, they anyway, won’t.
Getting yourself upset is your undoing and child’s coaching into smart manipulation.
Free yourself of this myth.
Let him or her throw a ball. Don’t catch it. They will learn they will have to strategise wisely to get what they want instead of playing up.
You can amusedly breath deep and be ready with consequences.
Your child must like you.
Approval seeking can twist one into pretzels.
The whole society holds people ransom on this need. Children are no different. They learn to praise another aunt’s food to hint how the neighbour is more forward (gives permission you don’t, buys stuff you don’t).
They learn to frown and make you jump if their favourite food is not in the plate. They learn to appeal to you for an extra note of cash (If you like your child, want to stay in their good books you would want to do it now wouldn’t you?)
Each time you do something only because they must like you, imagine the position you put yourself in each time you may have to say no. As the child grows and walks into teenage world there will be times you will have to have uncomfortable conversations. Some they may like, some not. You must have them though!
Focus on being an Effective Parent and Not a Good Parent.
Your child must listen to you all the times. There should be no conflict ever.
This myth is all about Control.
A theme, elusive and treacherous.
To control another human being, even if he or she is your very own flesh and blood is an exercise in Futility. The Child’s tendency to individuate becomes apparent as soon as toddlerhood begins. The child realises the power of their own movement, will and desire. It creates conflict.
If you view it positively, it is an opportunity to communicate each other’s needs and reach a settlement. It calls for the Art of Negotiation and not coercion. If you navigate well and demonstrate that each one’s needs are respected, that each one must learn to put forth needs and also accept that some will be met in the moment, some later.
Child learns that we all are humans with needs and we all can win.
Parents who carry this myth of total control force subservience as a recommended behaviour, good behaviour. They often overlook the festering resentment within, waiting to be released in an undesirable format of withdrawal, crying, sulking, screaming, resistance, walking away.
Give up this need for complete control. Allow child to express the need to do something different. Negotiate to fit it in, meeting everyone’s needs. If this seems like a tall order, you may want to look into what you are afraid of!
If you let them get away with everything, who will discipline them? You want Obedience or Discipline?
For obedience means ‘Do as I say.’
Discipline means Self-awareness with regards to Goals one wants to reach and creating strategies to reach there by effective investment of ideas, efforts and time.
How can children be allowed to do whatever they want? The word allowed contains the ability of Control.
My question would be ‘How long would you be able to allow?’
Soon the authority will be denounced.
Teenage conflicts and tantrums are witness to that.
If from an early age, parent steers an environment conducive to well placed ground rules, consequences that naturally arise (you drink ice cold drinks, you catch tonsils; you don’t complete a homework, you get a remark; you don’t clean the bed or mess, the mess degenerates further into muck).
Naturally arising consequences are great tools to mould a behaviour, understanding them the child will feel mastery of his/her own self. He or she knows how to behave so a certain consequences can be invited or avoided.
State the consequences and Get out of the way.
You sleep late, you miss the alarm, you miss school, you miss the day’s work.
Instead like good parents we wake them up, yell at them for sleeping late, being indisciplined, drag their incoherent self to the bathroom, dress them up and send an unwilling half tired kid to make sense of the world.
We think we are being Good parents.
Think again, we need to be Effective Parents.
There is a world of difference
Effective parents let children make sense of the world.
Invite Conflict so each phase of childhood gets new ground rules, art of negotiation and new ways of being emerge where each one wins.
Walk away from these myths, free your stress laden mind and bring in Effective Parenting!
About The Author
Sonnal Pardiwala is a Parenting coach, Holistic Healer, and Homeschooling mom of two sons. She has been an author of a fanfic that made it to the Limca Book Of Records. She runs the Parenting Community “Active Parenting” which is a group for parents to talk about their concerns regarding children’s education, growth and development.
Follow her here