I am often surprised how most people don’t put much effort into learning about parenting.
When we want to drive a car, we spend some time learning how to drive. When we want to be able to cook delicious food, we take the required guidance from an expert or through books, videos, etc. When we get a new job, we go through a good amount of training. We spend 3 to 4 years in college learning different subjects in great depth. All this time and effort is spent to ensure that we become skilled and competent to do some job.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare parenting to a job. Nevertheless, it’s an endeavour that requires great skill and competence.
I have no doubts that parents have a good heart and mean well for their children. I can not imagine a healthy adult in his/her right mind deliberately wanting to hurt their child or their future. Yet, we don’t see people putting much attention and effort into becoming skilled and competent parents.
Here are 3 reasons why that happens:
- We assume that we already know.
There is a deeply unconscious assumption that we already know how to be good at parenting. That we will be able to do it well, without learning about it.
We need to realise that parenting is as technical as programming a computer.
A child’s mind is like an un-programmed computer. The first few years of a child’s life is when the programming of their mind takes place. The programming that happens during this phase mostly runs for the rest of their lives (unless some de-programming takes place).
While a lot of the programming may happen at school or through peer groups, major control of the process remains with the parents.
- We don’t realise how crucial it is to do parenting well.
“Parenting is probably the most important public health issue facing our society. It is the single largest variable implicated in childhood illnesses and accidents; teenage pregnancy and substance misuse; truancy, school disruption, and underachievement; child abuse; unemployability; juvenile crime; and mental illness.” – Masud Hoghughi, Clinical psychologist
We see our children misbehaving, shouting. We see them stuck to some screen, not able to focus on their studies, not having much discipline. And we wonder why they are like that. Yet we overlook the fact that we had a huge role to play in making them like that.
We need to take responsibility for how our children are, at least till a certain age. Why? Because children learnt to be the way they are. They weren’t born like this, they learnt and became like this.
Where did children learn to misbehave from? Where did they learn to raise their voice? Who gave them access to mobile phones at the age of 2?
One might argue that many unhealthy behaviours and bad habits are learnt outside the home. However, we need to also contemplate how much time, attention, and loving care is provided to the children? How much effort is put to understand their real needs? How much have effort have we put into learning a parenting style that fits our child’s personality? How much time have we put in to inculcate the habits of focus, discipline, and in building a strong character in our children?
If we are to run a marathon, we train for it for months. But when it comes to raising a child, how much training do we go through?
We need to realise, that as parents we shape our child’s future in crucial ways.
- We don’t have time.
In our modern lifestyle, there is so much to do and so little time to do it. We have our jobs, careers, bill payments, taxes, gardens, car services, parties, meetings, etc. We are busy.
However, in all the busyness, we are anyhow able to take out time for things which are important to us.
If we can take out time for other things which are important to us, we can take out time to learn some fundamentals of good parenting as well. Of course, we will only be able to do it if we do realise how important it is.
I do realise that being a parent requires a tremendous amount of work, energy, and effort. I also realise that any healthy adult would hold only the highest intentions for their child.
At the same time, it is also important to realise that parenting is a skill that one can get good at. We do need to put in the required effort.
As I write this, I realise that I have written this post in a very chastising tone. As if I know what’s right and how to do it. But I am not a parent and I have not had my own experience in raising a child. I do not know the challenges firsthand.
So it might be quite easy for me to tell others to read up on parenting and get skilled at it.
However, I firmly believe that we can at least receive expert advice on parenting through books, blogs, classes, courses, workshops, etc. I don’t see that happening much though. In my immediate environment, I don’t see people learning about parenting. But I do see people going through training, classes, reading books, etc. when it comes to other aspects of their lives.
Nevertheless, through this article, I intend to only inspire and raise awareness. I apologise for my lack of skill in communicating better.
I received the inspiration to write this article when I first read The Children of Tomorrow by Om Swami.