“Perhaps it takes courage to raise children…”, said John Steinback, and in all probabilities- rightly so.
The modern day kids do not behave themselves at the promise of a single candy bar, they would rather play on computers than outside, they might start slurring abuses way before their adolescence. In short, they do everything that will leave parents and their sanskars calling out for help. How then, does one master the art of becoming a good parent- making sure your child has the right upbringing and still doesn’t hate you? Tricky, indeed.
Here, we present to you a loosely knit “do it yourself” guide of becoming a good parent:
1. Individuality- You have your own life too
The phrase “Indian parent” instantly paints a picture of a hard-working, going the extra mile, sacrificing person in our heads. Chances are, if you are also a parent, you have done your fair share of balidaans too; letting go of some personal dreams for the best of your children. The problem is not that you care about your children’s welfare, but that you lose yourself to it.
In India, parents are seen as the altruistic creatures who leave no stone unturned for their kids, even at the cost of their own happiness. Besides the unhealthy withdrawal from personal identity, this also puts tremendous pressure on children. By the end, they find themselves with choices they probably never wanted to make. Why? Because rebelling would have meant upsetting the same parents who gave up everything to provide you with a comfortable living. The reasoning, despite being prevalent in our country, is still highly toxic.
2. Ambitions cannot be passed on
One of the biggest challenges of parenthood is to make sure you don’t force your dreams onto your child. So many kids are dutifully studying medicine, law etc, even if they rather wouldn’t. As parents, people usually think that since they are older, they automatically know what’s best for their children. Others see their offsprings as a chance at redemption, of experiencing a life they wanted for themselves, even if not first-hand. But parents need to recognise the line between their life and their kids’. It is entirely wrong to impose your unfulfilled dreams on the shoulders of your children, denying them the right to create their own.
3. Accept and build your way around generation gap
As the child begins to grow up, the generation gap starts to get wider and wider. Parents and children start understanding each other a little less, and the wedge grows deeper. Why? Because they belong to different generation. What might be normal and right for one, might be distasteful to the other.
For example, dating and relationships are off bounds for a majority of Indian parents, while being a somewhat established fact for a standard millennial or gen Z kid. As multiple other examples fill the queue, it becomes a huge task for an average parent to figure out how much of freedom is the “right” amount. Belonging to different time periods, first they have to submit to the fact that they won’t always be able to understand their kids. The next step is to establish a middle ground between the different generations.
4. Personal space and freedom
Often in an attempt to get close to their children, parents end up knowingly or unknowingly overstepping some boundaries. Yes, boundaries. While it is important to have a closely knit, loving bond with your children, their personal space is to be respected at the same time.
The western world is considerably more acquainted with this “individualism” preaching lifestyle. India, however, has difficulties swallowing the fact that after a certain age, a child is entirely entitled to her own life choices, at least when legally an adult. As a parent, it should be a regular practice to retrace your steps, and see if you are giving your child the right space they need to grow. Snooping in on their personal objects without permission is not a healthy behaviour, and can make your child lose their trust in you.
5. Normalised toxic behaviour you should stop immediately
Our culture and environment tends to define what “normal” means to us. It is because of this, that toxic habits often get ingrained in our general lifestyle, without us realising. In a regular Indian household, there are generally several such red flags that we overlook. If you find yourself doing any of the below listed things, or similar, it may be time to introspect.
-Violating your kids’ privacy by going through their computer, diary, room etc without their permission.
-Expressing your discontent through taunts and hurtful remarks instead of having an open discussion.
-Comparing your children with other people.
-Using demeaning words in arguments, unintentionally or intentionally bringing their confidence down. Phrases like “You are worthless” might appear very light, for example, but can have damaging effects.
-Using the child’s financial and emotional dependence on you to your advantage. For example, parents often use emotional blackmail to make their children withdraw from choices they do not agree with.
-Making your children responsible for your happiness. Children are said to bring joy into their family. However, shifting the responsibility of your happiness and satisfaction – directly or indirectly on their shoulder, is highly toxic and affects the way they lead their life.
-Dictating their every life choice.
Often, the line between being controlling and ‘raising a child right’ becomes too hazy to make sense out of.
“They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they do not belong to you.”
The essence is, parenthood is difficult, and it takes more than a day to get it right. You make mistakes, you get frustrated, but how you learn from them makes all the difference in the world. Raising your children to be mature, strong individuals is a constant process of evolving with the world around you. The better you do it, the more memorable your message to the world will be.