Parenting – Ways of Being
Posted on: January 7, 2016. Comments ( 9 )

Author: Shrikant Sundaram, parent of Dr.Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Vidyalaya, Malad (West), Mumbai.

Recently I came across the below piece of advice that I found very apt to share not just with the online community of parents but also to offline groups as well. The source of this piece and its entirety is not yet available but once I find it, I will definitely connect with it. Do read and share your views.

It has to be said that the various lectures available out there on raising children, as well as the advice offered by psychologists and pedagogues on family relations, are effective and make sense and of any use only if the parents are psychologically stable. Unhappy parents will never be able to build a relationship with their child in which the latter is happy. In contrast, happy parents do not really have to do anything special in order to make their child happy.

Many people assume that they, as parents, are totally fine, and it is only their children who ’have issues’. Then they get surprised when they end up with two completely different children. One might be highly self-confident, successful, a high achiever in all senses of the word, yet, at the other end, trapped in a prison of low self-esteem, bad tempers and negative attitudes. This is a sure sign that these children interpreted life and their respective places within their family differently; more often than not, one of them yearned for more attention. One of them was by nature more sensitive and needed more love, but their parents never realised that.

Simply making sure that a child has clothes, shoes and food is the definition of providing for a child, but it does not amount to educating the child. Unfortunately, many parents are confident that providing is enough.

The way you talk to your child when they are little is how they are going to talk to you when you are old. When a baby is born, you feel on top of the world, you’re fascinated by their every movement and expression; you’re overjoyed that you’ve become parents. You do everything you can to make sure your baby is happy, healthy and protected. You enjoy your time spent with your child, and admire every little thing about them. But, when the child reaches school age, that institution often rises up like a barrier between parents and their offspring. What exactly is so scary about school? Yes, your child has to go to school every day, to imbibe knowledge according to their abilities; to communicate, and to grow up. Why do you let this process set you apart? School is not the most important thing in life — don’t let it dominate your relationship between you and your child.

School not only teaches us math and literature, but also about life itself. We learn practical skills along with theoretical knowledge. We learn how to communicate, build relationships, be responsible, develop our use of language, solve problems, make deals, and manage time. These skills help us feel confident in our adult lives and to start earning a living. Help, support and encourage your child in any way you can in their school life—every aspect of it, not just homework. If a child overreacts to bad grades, this is a reflection of their parents’ reaction. If the parent genuinely feels calm about bad grades or their child’s failures, the parent will smile and say, “My dear, don’t be upset”, the child will also remain calm, internally the foundations of mental stability will be established, and they will eventually fix their problems at school and find a subject or a hobby where they can succeed.

If your child struggles with the curriculum in their early years and you have to spend a lot of time doing homework with them it’s not the child which is necessarily at fault — it may be any number of factors connected with the school they attend. Some schools only have ambitions to achieve good grade averages and outstanding reputations as an institution, and don’t necessarily care about the genuine welfare of their pupils. If the school makes kids work harder, it doesn’t mean it is better! Your child shouldn’t overwork his or herself trying to keep up with a programme that was meant for children who have private tutors. First-grade homework should take 15-45 minutes. Otherwise, you will not last long.

Punishment is allowed, and sometimes it’s even necessary. Remember that you have to look objectively at how your child behaves and consider the long-term consequences if you don’t correct its behaviour. But discipline does not mean you have to become furious with them. Instead, without any aggression you can say something like, “I love you very much, but you won’t be allowed to do this anymore”. Don’t scream, get offended, or even worse, give them the silent treatment. Every child should have pocket money from about the age of six. Not that much, but regular money that they can handle themselves. It’s important for the money not to be a tool of manipulation. Don’t control how the child spends the money and give money as rewards for good performance at school or good behaviour.

Don’t try to live your child’s life. Don’t try to decide for them what to do and what not to do, or solve their problems for them, or pressure them with your own ambitions and expectations. One day you will get old, and then how will they cope on their own? If a child is always given everything he or she wants, they won’t know how to be responsible for their own actions. They will remain like an infant and will take every chance to break the rules. A child should know that they are loved and respected, that their opinion matters and that they’re trusted as a member of the family. But they must learn personal responsibility, self-reliance, and the virtues of hard work.

A teenager’s messy room reflects their inner world. It’s an expression of their inner chaos. Don’t come down on them too harshly over this—they’ve got enough to deal with already. Raising a child doesn’t mean explaining to them how they should live. Children develop according to analogies which demonstrate how you should do something and how you shouldn’t. Children don’t behave according to your words; rather they learn from your actions as a parent. In other words, if a father says that drinking is bad, but he himself drinks all the time, there’s every chance that the son will have a problem with alcohol. This is a fairly obvious example, but there are much other smaller behaviour that children ‘feel’ and adopt in accordance with the evidence they see before their eyes.

There’s a difference between talking to your children about life, and telling them how to live. If the parent only talks to their child when there are problems, that’s a problem in itself. If a child tries to manipulate their parents, that’s a neurosis which they’ve acquired. Don’t look for other causes. Healthy people don’t manipulate. They solve their problems by acting in a straight forward way.

Never criticize your child in fundamental terms; don’t try to hurt their ego, don’t go beyond accepted boundaries. Talk to them not about them, but about you. Not “You are bad”, but rather “I think what you did was not very good behaviour”. Use these phrases: “I don’t like it when…” or “I would like it if you…”. Use less critique and more constructive and positive feedback. Your children should feel that their parents are kind, but strong people. They can protect them, sometimes they refuse to do something, but they always act in their child’s interest and the interest of their family. And most importantly, they should feel every day that their parents love them.

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Comments (9)


    Gargi Mukherjee says:

    superb written article very useful for parents.. But at times it becomes difficult to remain silent and non furious.

    Vinotha says:

    Nice article……if we follow sure they will be good in future…..

    S.kumar says:

    very informative

    Virginia says:

    Article is 2 good, but sometimes to understand the child is very difficult.and working Moms have 2 little time to spend with their kids and hence their behaviours become complex for the parents to understand.

      Sragini says:

      this is the state of today Virginia… good to read the reality of acceptance.

      The thought process that parents are busy in their own work, and cant give time to kids brings forth a very key aspect of the purpose of family… is it only for social reasons to create a family?
      if yes, then parents as individuals are not living a life of their own choice but are being forced to live as per social norms.
      the irony is that 99% adults do not grow up with any conscious thought process of their purpose of life. this means everything that they do are basically due to external factors.. so not being able to get time is again due to external factors… not a internal driven approach.
      kids need to be brought up by the internal purpose of making them conscious and responsible individuals.. so parents have to be themselves responsible

    Sragini says:

    Cyril, you have said the fact. Very difficult to follow.. unfortunately, for us, we think life is an easy path. Unless parents do not take up the difficult ways and make it simple for the kids through their own self understanding, we will have the same mentality passing through each generation.
    Changing the nation, changing others is not what matters. Changing the self is what we all must strive for..
    only then kids will watch us parents… and try to be 1% of us.
    all easier said than done but if we don’t do it as humans, can’t expect animals to change this planet. If we really want it to change that is.

    Cyril Joseph Dmello says:

    Very nice article, although very difficult to follow.

    Priya says:

    Great information,all parents need to develop this attitude towards their children. In all creating a pleasant environment for the parent and the kid.

    Shyam Pratap Singh Jadon says:

    Very well written and thought provoking article worth reading for every parent

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