Observing a paradigm shift in the concept of parenting
Better be a friend and guide, than be a pre-defined “parent”
Are you a parent who would like to give your best to your child and try hard to fit in the mould which has been predefined through years of history of parenting? The copybook parent who has learnt parenting through his/ her parent and who in turn from their parents…and so on and so forth. Well, sorry to burst the bubble but like everything else, situations and circumstances have changed over the years and this change requires parents to change the way they prepare themselves for the tough and all-important role of their lives- being a parent.
The basic concept of parenting revolves around the manner in which a parent decides to bring up their child. Since children do not come with user’s manual and more importantly since every child is unique, there cannot be a standard operating procedure which can define parenting. Across all cultures, one thing that is common is the intention of a parent to ensure that all that they have not received or achieved in life should be made available to the child. They see themselves and their childhood in their child and they are pretty sure of what should and should not be done for them. And most of the time, these parents are adamant and pretty sure of themselves when it comes to raising their own child. They may find faults in other parents and crib about the way other children are being brought up, but if that comes to them as a feedback about their upbringing skills, they will have, what they think, a perfectly logical explanation 😀
Yea yea, I know some of you may be experts in the theory of parenting like the four main parenting styles (permissive, authoritative, neglectful and authoritarian) and may have read the ‘Parenting for Dummies’ etc. books, and I am no expert child psychologist, but what I write here are my personal views and observations gained over my half a century long stay on this planet being a son as well as a parent. And inquisitive that I was, I was always wondering about the manner in which different parents used to “handle” their children.
My take (and there might be a backlash on this) on this all important role as a parent would be to not become a protective, “always there for you”, and a “I want you to do everything that I missed out” parent. You decided to bring a child in this world and you want the best for him/ her, right? But is that for them or subconsciously is that for you? We want them to succeed where we failed. We want them to listen to us, but do we listen to them? And this listening is not just what they say. This listening is understanding what they need, what they are good that, what is not of their liking or ability. We project our vision and ideas upon them but do we actually heed attention to what they are developing as?
We want to safeguard them and protect them as we do not want them to get hurt…but by doing that, aren’t we depriving them of the struggles and hardships that they need to face and overcome in their growing years? There’s a beautiful story elaborating more on this:
One day in a biology lab in a school the professor was showing children the process of eggs hatching and baby chicks coming out from these eggs. After some time there was a call for the professor and he had to leave the lab. He told the students to observe the eggs breaking and the chicks coming out from them. The children stood around the lab table and soon enough the eggs started cracking and the little chicks tried to come out of it. The innocent children were pained to see the chicks trying hard to come out of the egg shell and the sharp edges of the shell were piercing them and hurting them. So they all decided to help the little chicks. The children broke open the egg shell thinking it will be easier for the chicks and they can now come out soon and without injury. But what happened!? Every chick died. No one survived.
The professor came back and saw the dead chicks. He was so shocked and nobody replied to his question that how did this happen? When he was insistent to know one of the innocent child told him that they only tried to help the chicks. The prof then realised and mentioned that everyone has to fight their way to begin their lives. Because you helped the chicks they did not gather their strength and their hearts did not develop well enough to come out of the shell. Nature has its own way of bringing in new life and we should not use our own logic to change the course.
Children need more of a friend, philosopher, and a guide. As parents, we ought to think that the child has not come from you, it has come through you. This fundamental difference in your thought process will completely change the manner you will be with your child. The child doesn’t belong to you — for that matter, nobody belongs to anyone. They just pass through you and make an acquaintance with you. Our job as parents is to hear them out, observe them, give them the best facility and opportunity to grow. Yes we do intend to give them a safe and protected environment to blossom but overdoing that will make them weak and unprepared for the future. Let them fall. Let them fail. Allow them to make mistakes. Do not judge them from your perspective or through your lens. Let them do things and make them realise the repercussions of their actions.
A friend is a critic- become one for your child. Pampering and protecting your child from the worldly critics will never help them. For you he/ she might be the best, smartest, and most beautiful child ever- but look at these things objectively. Is your child truly the best, the smartest, the most intelligent? Can you do something more to make him more stronger in his/ her studies? Or expose him to different situations to make him tough and street smart? What does a guide do? It guides you. They tell you about the best and then it’s upto the individual to follow it up and make their own call. Why would you tell the child what is best for them and what should be avoided?
I know there’s a flip side to the above arguments and that being we are more experienced and wise and hence why shouldn’t we take advantage of these qualities to ensure our child doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel? I agree, but my dear reader, it’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about going through the grill. A precious metal is just a stone until it goes through the arduous process of polishing and grinding. There’s no shortcut in life. Let your child get exposed to difficult situations and tough challenges with a strong assurance that you are there for him/ her. Let them come to a road block and instead of you giving them the solutions, allow them to figure out the best way forward. Let them fall and falter but you will be there to support and cheer them to do that once again. Point is to let them do stuff and make their own independent assessment, rather than agree and obey to yours.
We have two children and we take pride in the manner we as parents have brought them up. They may not be the most intelligent, the smartest, the most beautiful children, but they sure are confident, independent, reliable, disciplined, and successful. They are happy souls and they look forward to reaching great heights when their time comes. And we, as parents, take pride for ensuring that their journey through us will make them resilient, strong, and happy forever. Amen! Good luck to all ye parents out there!