Art of Parenting
There was once a mother who had a school going son. One day the son came back from school and showed a beautiful pencil. The mother asked, “From where did you get this?”
The child replied “Someone had dropped this in the school, I picked it up”
Mother kept quiet. After few days it again happened that he brought home something belonging to someone. The mother again did not say anything. This saga continued in high school, even when in college. One day it was money, next day it was a cell phone. Mother did not bother much though she realized it was not the correct thing to do. Once he was caught while stealing something and taken to police station. When his mother was informed, she rushed to the police station. She was in rage. She gave him a hard slap on the face. The son kept quiet. After few seconds he replied, “I wish you had given me this slap when I brought that pencil home when I was 6 years.”
Fellow Toastmasters and dear guests, Parenting is very challenging responsibility. More challenging in these times when the adage Spare the rod and spoil the child is a cliché and no more relevant. Parenting styles vary from culture to culture and time to time but there are a few principles which remain the same. I have learnt these principles of art of parenting from my children which I am going to share with you today.
When Nikhil, my older son started going to school, he would return from school in the afternoon and go to his room and start playing. I used to get very bugged, I wanted him to come to me, tell me about his school the way all children do but he would simply not talk. One day I asked him, “When you come from school you don’t talk at all, why you don’t tell me what happened in your school. All your friends come home and tell lots of things to their mothers but you don’t”
His simple answer was ‘You can also talk’. I was taken aback listening from 6 years old. His innocent face when he said this is still in front of my eyes.
That was the first lesson I got, I realized why can’t I talk why am I waiting for him to start. My child could be different from other children, why I have to expect the same behavior from him as other children.
All children are different; every child is not an achiever. We should not forget that we as a parent are also not perfect so why hanker after perfection. Every child gives a different experience.
If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them how to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.
Teach your child to take his own decisions in life and be responsible for it. Movie 3 idiots had lot of take aways for parents as well as children. Let them carve their own path in life, we be only the mentor and navigator and not the path finder. We should not impose our decisions on them. We as parents should expose them to multifarious faculties so that they broaden their vision and deepen their roots.
Every child comes to this planet with certain tendencies and basics which cannot be changed. Encourage them to dream but let’s not give them false hopes.
In spite of lecturing them day in and day out there was a time when my children were not very docile and I will have to repeat everything at least three times before they listen. Once I told the younger one, ‘when daddy tells you something you listen immediately where as I keep shouting at you the entire day and no one is bothered.” He replied, “When daddy threatens us with some punishment, he means it but you keep saying but don’t do it so we are not scared of you, we know you only give hollow threats.”
Your child will teach you how you need to discipline him.
That was the time when I had to discipline myself first. Disciplining is a value which is as much required in childhood as much as in adulthood. If you were not disciplined as a child, you cannot be disciplined when an adult and you will have a hard time organizing yourself in life. Discipline is like a fixed deposit; you pay now and reap the benefits through out life. Discipline is not an antithesis to freedom. In fact only a disciplined mind can be free. I have understood this with my 27 years experience in parenting that disciplining does not come with preaching.
If I have to raise my child all over again
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
We need to practice first and then preach. Walk the talk at home. Children hate sermons. They believe more in action. You cannot say I can do this because I am a parent and you cannot do this because you are a child. You can’t preach “exercise daily, get up and go for jog where as you are happily sleeping.
Good or bad, whatever parents do, children end up adopting many of those habits unconsciously.
My mother had been a working woman all her life. When sweets were distributed in her department on some occasions, she used to bring her share of sweet, divide into three and give to us. It was not we could not afford it but she used to say, I know you like sweets so I didn’t feel like eating without sharing with you. We three sisters used to criticize her ‘why can’t women think about themselves, it is always husband and children.’
Twenty years later when I am a mother and a working woman, I have kept a small box in my desk. Whenever we have a celebration and office boy comes and puts a piece of sweet in front of me, I quietly put in my box and take it home for my two boys to eat. I always think of my mother when I do this.
I realize how children copy parents when they grow up even if they don’t like a part of their behaviour.
If I have to raise my child all over again
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
I saw some eyes blinking in disbelief when I mentioned that I have 27 years of parenting experience. Yes, you got it right, it is 27 yrs. My older son is 16 years and my younger one is 11. Raising each child is a different experience.
Childhood comes only once, the parenthood also comes only once. Responsible parenting is the best gift you can give to your child. Right parenting determines what your child be in adulthood. Parenting is a great responsibility and we should do whatever best we can to make our children responsible citizens.