One day, my wife asked my children what qualities they liked in each family members. I don’t remember all that was said, but when it was their turn to discuss me, their answer was a revelation. I hope I never ever forget it and live up to it all my life. It’s been my sutra for a good family life, for being a good parent and enjoying the role of being a parent.

They said, “Appa likes to do whatever we like to do.”

That moment, I was gratified, elated and blown away. That line holds a lot of significance for me. What better can a parent do than behaving with children in a way that they get acceptance. That line was the ultimate testimonial of acceptance.

In my opinion, parents (at least in today’s social environment) aren’t meant to be sitting on high pedestals as authoritarians. They aren’t meant to ‘make’ the kids do something or ‘shape up’ the children in a particular way. Kids are smart enough and too well exposed to make their decisions eventually.

Parenthood, today, is a lot about acceptance.

Consider this, people tend to pay attention to those whom they relate to. People accept others with whom they share common interests or common ideas. We make friends while playing badminton at a club, with other readers at a library, with people who like the same kind of music, with others who use the same brand of car and so on. We inherently look for people with similar likes and accept them while also trying to gain acceptance with them.

The same applies to children. One can deduce that the best way to gain acceptance with one’s kids is to like what they do and do what they like (of course, not all the time and not what is completely unacceptable).

Truly, it’s not so hard liking what kids do. In fact, it’s enjoyable. For example, children love blowing bubbles or playing games. I am yet to meet an adult who would say they don’t love to do these. It’s only the adult ego that comes in and prevents one from enjoying those activities which get exhilarating as a child. Once that ego is set aside, a parent can well enjoy time with their children, and gain acceptance.

As kids grow, parents refuse to indulge in childlike pleasures thinking it will show them in poor light. Maybe others will find it amusing to see a parent dancing away with a teenaged son on some contemporary music. Society may find it offbeat to see a parent daydreaming with her child and talking of fairies and princesses.

But what really matters is that the child would enjoy this kind of company from a parent. The bond becomes stronger; an openness is established that holds the family close. Acceptance of each other is paramount and there could be no better way than to have common pleasures.

The step starts with the parent — not the child.

While all behavioural changes don’t come with guarantees and warranties, in the least, it is most enjoyable to drop the mask of adulthood and let loose the child within in the company of one’s own kin. It is most gratifying when one hears their child tell them, “I love you because you like doing all that I like to do.”

Photo by Maria Orlova from Pexels

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Subhash Iyer

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