In my short stay on this planet (I am still alive at 45), I have been a parent for 15 years now (that is 33% of the time, of which 9 years has been with two kids). Add to that my experience of having been parented, observing people parent their children and of course, meeting thousands of parents (of huge variety I must say) at the school I run.
I don’t know if that makes me experienced enough to write on this subject. But nevertheless, I will still take the risk.
Warning: The views expressed are personal and from a middle class parent who lives in a small town and is constantly trying to evolve in the role.
I can divide most parents in two major categories- One, those who want their children to be like them and second, those who do not. Reasons of the former are obvious while for the latter – the primary reason is the dislike for what they themselves do/are, closely followed by the wish to meet their own unfulfilled career dreams.
Now, where are children in this? This leads us to a third category – those who leave it to their children to decide. Reasons for this, again, are varied- some are themselves not clear/aware (majority); quite a large number does not have enough parenting time; and then, there are the “new generation” open-minded parents who want to make their children confident and independent.
When I assess myself as a parent, I look to want the best of all these types (maximum value, the middle class mentality). I want my children to have values like mine (the typical Sanskari children), yet, I want them to be unlike me in many ways. I want my children to be smart, confident, outgoing, socially active, tech savy, adventurous, break the rules once in a while etc, etc… all in all, I think I want them to be role models.
Am I expecting too much? Not really, I would say. Except for the fact that again it is me who matters not the child. So, which type is the best? Since we are humans and not machines, I guess there are no ideal parents or universal parenting rules. Each one is driven by his/her experiences, circumstances and requirements.
What, however, can be common to some extent for all parents is our goal of parenting. What is it that we want as a parent- to see our children happy and successful in life (that is if you agree). And how do we achieve this?
Firstly, we consciously need to make efforts to assess our role as parents. Yes, we all want to see our kids happy but all the time do things that lead to just the opposite. And this conflict is visible in most of our actions if we observe. So, it is not our definition that matters, it is theirs that counts.
We need to accommodate their views and definitions. Remember, it is about them not about us. We all want our childhood back. Our children give us that opportunity. Grab it!
Spend time with your children; tell stories; listen to their stories; laugh at their stupid jokes; listen to their experiences at school and chats with friends. These may not sound interesting to us, but will strengthen your bond with the kids. Time, not money, is the best investment that we can make in our children.
Allow them the freedom to do things (with your statutory warnings). They should be doing things that make sense to them. Believe in their dreams. Don’t rob them of their childhood. Don’t make them adults before they complete their childhood. Do not make parenting a burden and tiresome exercise for yourself and your children. Let go of the notion that they are our possessions.
Accept the fact that they are independent human beings with a mind and heart. Our fears (whatever) need not stop us from doing this. Try doing this and you will start enjoying being a parent. One day some day, you will be happy, content and proud of yourself for having given your children their childhood.
The writer has been a journalist with several reputed newspaper and is now the director of Vidyantriksh School at Bhiwani in Haryana. All views expressed are his personal.