WE ARE IN IT TOGETHER!

They say you respect your parents more when you become one yourself. How true is it. I would trade anything in this world to be like my parents and raise Aarnav (my 2 yrs old boy) just the way my parents raised me. But alas, that’s not how it’s going to be.

Just like how computers changed to laptops and iPads, landlines changed to smartphones, schooling changed to online schooling in just a matter of few years, parenting needs an upgrade too.

Honestly, I do not have a parenting plan for Aarnav. We live in a dynamic world and every day is different than the other. Parents in this age need to be on toes. 24/7. But if you ask me what is my parenting goal, I have an answer to it. My parenting goal is that, I want to raise Aarnav in such a way that he is comfortable to talk to me about anything under the sun. Just anything. And I want to build that trust in him that no matter what, we are in it together. That doesn’t mean that I shall coverup when he makes mistakes, it simply means that my behavior towards him should be such that he finds me approachable even when he wants to confess his mistakes.  Easy? Not at all…!!

The parent in me is naive, I cannot comment on what and how other parents are doing right now. But all I know is that, I want to raise Aarnav the way I mentioned above. This naive parent in me often worries about how I would handle a situation when hormones of my son would start tricking on him, whether he would love me as much as he does now, whether he will share things with me? And I dont have any solutions to this fear. But broadly, I do know what I must do to have it my way. Parenting in today’s age is tricky. You can’t be controlling but you are accountable!

There are some basic directions I have given myself to be a good parent. Only time will tell how a good parent I turn out to be but I trust this may work! Trying to share a few directions here

1. Values: The foundation of the character that we want to build is values. Above everything,  I emote to Aarnav the values like Respect and Gratitude. Respecting everyone around, be it peers or Elders is what makes you empathetic and if you grow to be empathetic you will never ever want to hurt anyone. Neither physically nor verbally. At the same time, being grateful for what you have is also very very important because it brings along other values like, being appreciative and humble and keeps negatives like jealousy at bay.

2. Being approachable: I think this is the golden direction! We as parents must make our children feel loved and trusted that they feel confident that they can come to us and talk about anything and everything. Just anything, like their first crush, their first date, their desires. Now this is more actionable for parents rather than the children I would say because the onus of giving them that comfort lies on to us. This is one of the biggest responsibilities of the parents I would say! Because it’s not easy to do what it takes to be good in the books of your child and still manage to do the right and just thing! The key here is communication. “Me time v/s We time” like Charlie mentioned in his post but mind you kids of this generation need their own space. Its tricky as a parent to make a place for ourself without invading their space.

3. Accept the change: We must accept the change the generation brings in. Like I am prepared for the time when I may need to allow Aarnav to use his personal smartphone while he is still schooling. This is a sober example. Let’s face it guys, there are many other changes that we need to accept like, hitting puberty earlier, normalising relationships, the desire for independence. It is very important that we dont let these changes overwhelm us and get upset with our children for the choices they make.

Like Kalpana said at the beginning of this week, parenting doesnt come with an instruction manual, it’s a tough job. I would like to add that It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about the choice and effect relationship. It’s about what we and our children choose that leads us to the effect. And it’s not the job of only parents or only children. We are in it together!

In the end, all that we must focus on as parents is eternal love for children, raising them to be a gentle and loving human being, raising them to respect all the genders equally and teaching them to make the right choices. How we do it is up to us really!

I would like to conclude this topic by a reminder to myself (and other parents too) to be with my child in thick and thin, each and every time he needs me, sometimes directly and some times indirectly, sometimes in face and sometimes anonymously.

The following quote summarizes my write up and my parenting goal:

“I can’t promise to fix all your problems, but I promise that you will not have to face them alone. – A loving parent.”

 

PARENTING – NO KIDDING!

As a parent what is our constant wish and effort – nothing but to give the best to our children. Isn’t it? Be it the opportunities or the materialistic things at their disposal, we as parents never leave any stone unturned to provide our kids with nothing short of best even if we have to go an extra mile. That makes me ponder “Is providing of provisions enough to make us good parents?” Well in my quest I stumbled upon an example from the mythological story of Mahabharat:

Duryodhan (the eldest Kaurava), son of Dhritarashtra had everything at his disposal – loving parents, strength of 99 brothers, “Never Say No” best friend like Karna yet his greed led to his downfall and demise. Though his greed and jealousy were given flames by his ever conspiring maternal uncle Shakuni but it is an offshoot of Dhritarashtra’s failure as a good father. He always used his physical handicap as a trump card, as a camouflage to his insecurities that thrived against his own brother Pandu (father of Pandavas) and this very feeling made him to give in to every unjustified demand of his son. He thought the jewelled crown and the throne of Hastinapur rightfully belonged to his son and disruption of any sort will leave Duryodhan shattered and he never wanted that. He couldn’t see because of his physical disability but his insecurity piled up over the years decayed the truth in his heart, blinded his vision (morally) as he couldn’t see the harm his son is causing to the very roots of his own family in the disguise of snatching power, humiliating and even trying to kill his cousins (the pandavas). Had Drithraashtra intervened and took strong stand against the scrupulous ways and moral corruption of his son he could have prevented Kurukshetra war that saw innumerable deaths, wailing widows and orphans. But he always had crown and materialistic pleasures on his mind for his son because he thought that’s the only responsibility he had as a father. A perfect example of how providing materialistic world isn’t enough to be Good Parent.

This one character made me understand that there’s a difference between attachment and love. Attachment makes us to justify and act according to every unjustified demands of our kids lest our denial might upset them whereas love strive to work tirelessly for the evolution of a better human being and a great character. That’s some heavy philosophy, isn’t it?😊

Back to the present: With the family structures / set ups changing (disintegration of joint family systems into nuclear families), social dynamics changing so fast, the increasing distance between the parents and kids as to how they process thoughts and understand a particular situation parents have an uphill task of safeguarding their children from physical dangers, moral corrosion and emotional exploitation with an added responsibility of preparing them for life. What are we supposed to do then as a parent since parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual? What should be our parenting goals? Is preparing kids for competitions, making them do good in academics and extra curricular activities, giving them a comfortable cushion for a secured life ahead are characteristic traits of good parents? Well, I strongly believe that these are only perks. The foremost responsibility of a parent is to aid in character development of a child. If parents are successful in nurturing good human beings individually they are actually assisting in constructing a better society and pave way for a better environment for the country. To put it simple: parenting is about understanding and explaining the difference between literacy & education; price & value; right & wrong.

Face to Face with the current reality: Sadly incidents of cruelty, ghastly violence, atrocities are outnumbering gestures of kindness, love, compassion. And what is more horrific is that the young minds and souls are found on both ends – both perpetrators and receiving. For instance – in one incident that I came across on social media platform, a 15 year old autistic boy committed suicide because he was bullied so hard by his schoolmates that he found death as an easy escape. Both the culprit and the victims are kids only. In another incident in the Mumbai city of India it was found a school going students group (all aged between 13-14 years) were talking in an obnoxious manner in their group chats on WhatsApp, to be more precise they were talking about rape, one night stands, sex, making fun of homosexuality, tagging peers with tags like “gay”,”lesbian”. New (much talked about) to the list being the “Boys Lokcer Room” incident. That was horrendous. Where is our future heading? Who bores the responsibility for this? Schools as usual shrug off their shoulders and dust off responsibility. And to be honest not everything can be entrusted to someone else be it a person or an organisation (specifically in the times we are now experiencing where the teacher-student-school dynamics are not the same they used to be a decade or two back)

Parents time to think and act!! Perhaps time to reevaluate ourselves. Are we doing enough for our kids? Are we available to our kids when they need us? Are we listening to them? Are we aware of their exposures and exploitation? Are we setting good examples for them to follow? Before setting goals it is important to understand parenting isn’t JUST about Imposing rules and Supervision. It’s not just about telling kids “do this, don’t do that, sit there, don’t go there, don’t speak” and a long list of DOs and DON’Ts. Simply parenting isn’t a linear correlation formula. Also parenting isn’t about providing the comforts and luxuries (provision of basic needs is no more a parenting criteria sadly, we have surpassed that stage long ago). It’s a pretty complex web often comprising of simplest things. It’s about:

Inculcating the right values: Its the most tedious job of all. The paths of upright morals should be trend relentlessly to set a direction for them to follow the footsteps. Compassion, benevolence, trustworthiness and likes can never be taught by preaching only. You show, you sow and you reap, period!

Right kind of exposure: With the availability of world at the touch of a button or a click away our kids are highly vulnerable to the wrong influence. The different kind of applications and social media platforms have effectively targeted their audience and exploited their vulnerabilities. This situation demands parental intervention. Training of young minds with tools of moral stories (for young kids); history of great personalities who have contributed to the humanity and society, healthy conversations sharing own life experiences, constant to and fro communication with kids in the wake of understanding and addressing their fears, answering their doubts are few ways of providing the right exposure and limiting the unwanted ones. Praying together, eating together, doing household chores together too promote good communication flow. ** Take a cue from the past, remember how our grandparents used to tell us stories be it fairy tales, parables from epics, life accounts of great men and women and there’s no denial that they did leave a lasting impression on our minds** Since this generation is more at ease with technology, use the same for the right exploration. Parental guidance needed is not just passable condition

Building Strong individuals: The biggest hurdle in being a good parent is Our Fear! We are in constant fear that if we say no to our kids or if we tried to be strict with them they might get hurt, they will cry or worse being they might end up in depression. In few instances we also fear social embarrassment. “If we don’t oblige on something what would everyone think of us as parents” also impacts the way parents deal with their children That’s a big NO. By holding ourselves back from correcting them or by deflecting and acting / dancing to their tunes, whims and fancies we are not only spoiling them but creating an overtly sensitive brigade waiting to be released in the vast ocean of hostile world. And we all know life isn’t a bed of roses. Our children must be trained to accept “No”. In no way I am up for any kind of dictatorship but they must know that they can not boss us 😉 (one of my friends, a great woman who never ceases to motivate and inspire me shared this view with me. She is a mother of twins herself and doing a great job in bringing up her kids, we all call her SP fondly. If she is reading this she will know).

Disciplining and maintaining decorum: Every organisation and institution needs a set of rules to be run smoothly. So does a family. Without discipline in ways of life and thinking parenting is a penance without any fruit. It might be an algorithm of to do things during the day or a constructive manner of expressing the emotions or processing the same, discipline streamlines course of life.

What we have discussed so far are just touch and go pointers. Parenting is a humungous subject yet without any predetermined formulas or theories that fit into every individual case without modification. With every mind and soul beautifully different parenting is a thankless job which if done to the perfection will yield a healthy society to dwell in. And if handled inappropriately could prove to be fatal for numerous lives. This needs introspection..