Instead of parenting race, let’s focus on raising happy children
I recently attended a parenting workshop that got me thinking about our incessant efforts to become better parents. But in this age of nuclear families, who do we turn to for parenting advice? The parenting coaches bring to the workshop the current parenting scenario — they use humour to facilitate a discussion on the parenting choices we make. They share with us anecdotes, discuss various scenarios and give us insights. You can indeed relate to many of the scenarios they discuss.
The parenting journey can sometimes be draining. We all have had our moments in the parenting journey where we have felt clueless and wondered if we were indeed doing the right thing. And that is when these workshops come in handy, like an energy booster. Frankly, I am not sure what gets my energy up more— the speaker or the revelations made by participating parents that are informative and give you the comfort of knowing that you are not alone in trying to navigate the parenting landscape.
So I thought I would use this week’s column to highlight a few of my own observations on parenting:
1. You are an adult now but what does that mean? It probably means you have the freedom to do many things You can step out of the house whenever you want. Any amount of TV is okay. There is nobody to lecture you when you swear. But hold on, everything comes under scrutiny and moderation, once again. And this time, it’s by the little minions you brought into this world. The big plus is that you get to be a kid all over again and the downside is that you lose some of the privileges of the adult life. We get reintroduced to our childhood comic characters, are forced to take time out to enjoy blowing bubbles and learn to enjoy a few other things that probably never figured in our list of interests ever before. How many of you find yourself navigating the Lego minefield spread across the floor of every room or dodging the Nerf Gun bullets every so often?
2. We all agree there are fun times and fewer fun times in the parenting journey. Whenever you feel pushed into a corner by the little minion or you are at your wit’s end, the two things that will definitely come to your aid are humour and creativity. One of the moms mentioned how she and her child write down consequences (the more acceptable word for punishment) on small chits of paper and fill a fishbowl with them. Whenever the child breaks a house rule, she has to take out a chit and do what is mentioned on the sheet. Another friend shared how she got her teenager to eat some of the normal Indian food by giving a twist to the recipe and renaming it with some fancy names.
3. If you think parenting is just about teaching kids, think again. It’s a two-way learning process and there is a lot for us to learn too. The minions are highly perceptive and have a thing or two more to teach us. Their observations and logical reasoning can sometimes take you by surprise and teach us how to observe life in an entirely new and refreshing manner.
4. It is okay to make mistakes. Gandhiji once said, “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” The parenting expert mentioned this and urged parents to allow kids to make their mistakes and learn their lessons. And I found it very relevant for the parents as well. We as parents, especially in this age of information overload, are trying to do various things to become the ‘perfect’ parents. We sometimes forget to be more forgiving – forgiving to ourselves too. The focus should be on happiness – the happiness of the child and that of yours.
When we recently interviewed Boman Irani, he said, “Raising kids should entail helping or supporting them to pursue what makes them happy, and not make parenting about making or shaping careers”.
Instead of trying to win the parenting race, let’s all focus on raising healthy, happy, caring, well-rounded children who have great values and the confidence to proudly be who they are. And if we can do that, we will have a strong relationship with our children based on love, mutual respect and trust — the only award that matters in the end.
(An advocate of women’s rights, Neela Kaushik started a Facebook community called Gurgaon Moms to create a local support network for mothers in the city. Today, it has more than 25,000 members)