Parenting is one of my favorite topics. As I watch my two children grow, I introspect, discuss, experiment, observe, come to conclusions and introspect again. Parenting is an extremely exciting aspect of my life. I enjoy every moment I spend with my children. As I watch them and make my notes and change my findings, I’ve observed some patterns which seem to work well.
But before going into what works well, I’d like to share my thoughts on what is “well”.
The need for a paradigm shift in parenting methods in today’s times originates with the HUGE amount of information and extremely easy access available to information through digital methods. A parent does not have to be an information source for children as was earlier. Information is accessible to kids faster than to parents as they adapt to new technology easier.
Another change has been the opening out of multiple activities of involvement. Children have access to learning dance, singing, painting, musical instruments, chess, sports, martial arts, etc. at school and at extra classes. The practice of so-called extra-curricular activities is encouraged much more than before. It has become normal for a child to pursue at least one or two activities of his or her interest apart from studies.
At the same time, the emphasis on studies and grades is growing. The pressure to perform and stand out in all aspects is increasing. A child is expected to do both – excel in studies and build a unique personality, and stand out in both. Expectations are high while the time available to put in the effort and achievement is the same.
Added to this is the lure of competition and winning in several publicized talent shows – dance, quizzes, spell bees, and whatnot.
Under these circumstances, it is practically impossible for a parent to be the “role model” for the child. Parents can’t be sports gurus, dance gurus, study gurus, all put into one. Skill-based role modelling is just not achievable.
What can be achieved in my opinion is being a “value role model”. What the child is going to need and will remember when he or she goes through the tough times of life are the values which his or her parents practiced and instilled.
What these values are, change from parent to parent, family to family. It could be earning wealth, maintaining a healthy body, observing food discipline, religion, intelligence, fame, character, and so on. It’s every parent’s choice to decide on the values he or she believes in and wants the child to pick up.
A parent must chalk out the values he or she would like the child to inculcate. Once the values are defined, some ways to let the child pick them up are listed below:
· Lead by example.
· If you have to teach (lecture) – don’t do it when the child has erred. Do it later when the incident is over when the child is receptive.
· Be the child you want your child to be.
· Give time to the child to learn, no learning happens overnight.
· Don’t drown out a child’s questions. Face them even if you can’t answer them.
· The world is wonderful for a child. He or she draws excitement in small things. Participate in the wonder of the world as the child experiences.
· While guiding, also learn from your child.
· Remember what you liked and disliked in your childhood.
· Let the child be itself.
· Be firm when required but know the difference between being firm and showing anger or frustration
· Let the child also get exposed to other people around who tell the child what they want – he or she must listen and absorb from the world in general – not just you.
I’m calling the combination of these methods “The Children’s Way” for two reasons:
· Most of these aspects are inherently present in children.
· These methods are oriented towards children’s learning rather than the parents’ comfort.
There is a whole lot to be said about each of these aspects and more. I will write out some more explanations as I find time. For now, I’d like to complete this post saying that parenting can be a most enjoyable, elevating, and learning experience not to say rewarding if done with the right spirit and attitude.