Have you ever pondered over the complex relationship between a parent and a child? This is one of the most enduring relationships ever. A happy, healthy, well mannered child is a pleasure to watch, but very often, we forget to give a thought to the years of loving care that has gone into making him or her one. Parenting is by no means an easy task. It is delightful, yet demanding. It offers the exhilaration of some of the happiest moments of life. In contrast, you may experience some vulnerable moments too.
Parenting begins from day one. The arrival of a baby could throw the exuberance and carefree routine of a young couple into a tailspin, as the child requiring constant care and attention becomes the pivot of their existence. With the growing tendency towards nuclear families, it becomes imperative that both parents assume equal responsibility for the child’s upbringing.
“The happiest day of my life,” is what Harish, a proud father, says of the day his daughter was born. Harish is one of those fathers who returns home early to support and spend more time with his child. He calls it an added incentive as he believes that the bond he shares with his daughter has grown stronger and will last a lifetime. Though his wife is a stay at home mother, she appreciates the moral support of her husband in giving her a small respite from shouldering the responsibility alone through the day.
This sort of support becomes even more important when both the parents are working. If there is a support system in the form of elders in the house, the situation is slightly easier, as the woman knows that she is leaving her darling child with a caring person. But in a nuclear set up, after the initial euphoria and rest period, the new mother faces a dilemma. I know many young working women opting for home consultations or private practice at least for the initial five years. When the child joins school, some of them think of going back to work, whether it is out of economic necessity or to provide a better lifestyle for their child or to fulfill their own career ambitions. This is where the support of a spouse becomes all the more imperative.
“It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult” – Anonymous.
No amount of love is enough for a child
Parenting also throws up a myth that has to be dispelled. Many parents have a notion that too much love spoils a child. This is a myth. Love cannot spoil a child. No amount of love is enough for a child, as he or she needs to feel the security of being loved. What actually may spoil them are the material possessions or concessions that you offer in the name of love, especially if both the parents are working. It is so easy to buy a toy or be lenient towards his homework to compensate for your coming home late. That does not work. The child will start having expectations of such gifts. Instead if you demonstrate your love with a comforting hug and explain the reason for your delay, the child will be secure in the embrace of your love. He or she will grow to be a loving and caring person.
You are your child’s role model
It is important to note that children tend to mimic their parents, and more often than not, consider them as their role models. So be aware of what image of yourself you are portraying before your child.
Enforce Discipline firmly yet pleasantly
Discipline is again very important to mould a child in the right way. One has to be firm yet pleasant while enforcing rules that one has made in order to ensure that the child will behave well with both their peers and elders. Misbehavior has to be nipped in the bud. However, one has to keep in mind that harsh physical punishment must be avoided as it has worst side effects. It is generally seen that children who are slapped or hit turn out to be more aggressive in their interaction with other children. They also have a tendency to get involved in physical fights to solve disputes. Likewise, parents who have arguments or fights in front of their children create a feeling of insecurity. The children of such parents could turn out to be unhappy and frustrated individuals when they grow up.
“Don’t worry children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you” – Robert Fulghum
Family Time is essential
Family time is another essential prerequisite for you to know your child and his requirements. “We make it a point to have dinner together as a family,” say Girija, a mother of two and a lecturer, whose husband Jatin takes care of his family business. Girija leaves for college early in the morning and returns home before the children come back from school. Jatin drops the children at school and then proceeds to his factory. He comes back late evening and the couple finds that the only real family time is during dinner.
They encourage the children to speak about their school activities and friends. “I am surprised at the topics that come up during our conversation at the dining table,” says Girija. “We even discovered that Jai was scared of a boy from his class as he used to bully him around. On enquiring, we found that many students had the same fear about that particular boy but were scared to voice it out. It helped us to take remedial action immediately.”
Accept your children as they are
Finally it is essential to perceive that each child is unique, with pluses and limitations. Some are intelligent, some are average, and some are weak academically. But each child is endowed with a unique strength. It could be arts, it could be sports, music or anything for that matter. The onus is on the parents to discover this strength and encourage their child to realize his or her potential to the fullest. Examples of this can be seen all around us, be it Sania Mirza, M S Dhoni, or the legendary singers Hariharan and Shankar Mahadevan. They were lucky to have parents who recognized their capabilities and encouraged them to fulfill their dreams. So, accept your children as they are and encourage them to become honest, successful, well behaved and likable individuals.
“Great parenting happens when you start controlling yourself and stop controlling your child”- Humanrightsforhumanchildren
Lalitha Balasubramanian is a freelance Journalist and Author based in Mumbai. She has contributed hundreds of articles to various newspapers and magazines. Her books include ‘On the Krishna Trail’, ‘Kerala the Divine Destination’, ‘Temples in Maharashtra’ and ‘Grandma’s Tales of Shri Krishna’. A voracious reader, she is also a compulsive traveller, nature lover, Music and Fine Arts enthusiast and a believer in ‘living life to the full’.