Your Role as a Parent

Shimla: Most of us take our role as a parent too seriously. We feel completely responsible for our offspring’s welfare. We feel it is our duty to guide them in all aspects of their lives. After all we are the parents. We know what is best for our children. If we will not guide them, who will? All these arguments are well intentioned and I have no issues with these. But in our desire to do the best for our children, we forget to give them ample doses of love, affection, and understanding. We think that too much love would spoil them. We believe in discipline more than understanding.

All that we parents ever need to do is to provide generous dollops of love and acceptance. In the absence of a warm and loving atmosphere, no child can ever achieve his/her full potential. Even discipline does not really work in a hostile environment. In our life we come across individuals with low self esteem, which stems from their childhood. Unless the home atmosphere is warm, caring, safe, protective, and friendly, a child can not be self- confident. And as you well know, self-esteem is the most critical factor in achieving success in life.

When we like ourselves for what we are, we are more likely to work hard and achieve more. Observe your children. Your encouraging, loving words are their biggest motivators. The moment you put them down, their enthusiasm to do anything vanishes in thin air. If your children are not doing well at school, first look at your home environment. Be objective. Ask yourself; are you the cause of their poor self esteem? Most of the times, we unfavourably compare our children to their friends. What do you think it does to their self image? We think that by shaming them, we are motivating them to excel. We couldn’t be more wrong. Apply this rule to yourself. Do you strive to work harder if someone ridicules you? No. You would build up frustration, and anger towards that person. That is exactly what is happening in your home. Pay attention to it and take corrective measures.

My favorite line is a cry from a child, “Mum, love me the most, when I deserve it the least.” This line haunts me. Yes, when we think that our child does not deserve any love because he has been naughty, disobedient, destructive, or a failure; that is when he needs our love the most. Our job at these times is to trust our children and help them discover the talents, abilities, resources, and the personal best that is hidden behind their rough and unappealing exteriors.

We feel let down and disappointed by our children, if they do not tow our line. We label them as ‘difficult’ children. Have you ever wondered if the children feel the same about us as well? Have we ever given unconditional love to our children? Why do we always have to be judgmental at every step? Our parenting years (and our children’s ears!) are full of ‘good boy’, ‘bad boy’, ‘good girl’, and ‘bad girl’ at each step and after each action. Such adjectives confuse children. Their self-worth fluctuates from minute to minute. From praise to disgrace!

Our attention is more focused on the socks left on the floor, unmade beds, badly done homework, bad influence of friends, poor grades, and complaints from the teachers. We do not focus on their good qualities, assets, and strengths, especially when these do not meet with our pre-conceived notions of what is good and what is bad. If we are constantly reminded of our shortcomings, we start believing in them. Our children do the same. By telling them about their strengths, we help them believe in themselves. Their worth increases in their own eyes. They feel capable of making a difference in the world. This empowered attitude leads them to success in whatever field they choose.
So, let us get out of our cocooned worlds of expectations and reasoning. Let us pay more attention to playing with our children and understanding them. The time spent together with them is something that we should treasure more than anything else. Believe that your children are your ‘gurus’. There is a lot that we can learn from them. Just observing them is an education by itself.

Photo by Yash Razz Sharma

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