By Lahar Bhatnagar
Osho has a beautiful saying, “The moment a child is born, a mother is born too. The woman existed before, but the mother never. A mother is something entirely new.” This one quote encompasses a huge lacuna in parenting that is proving to be detrimental to our parenting journey. Parenting is all about the baby. Pick up any website, any book, any blog or any parenting advice you have received recently; it shall invariably be about the child.
However, in the parenting journey, especially as a new parent, you need to be nurtured as much as the baby. And with the new and unique parenting challenges millennial parenting faces, it has become more important now than ever before to have a parenting guide. A third party unbiased solicited advice giver might really help you and your child.
Though I see a rise in parenting coaches, the mindset towards taking parenting counselling is still quite blocked. People feel that parenting workshops or classes are taken only by those who are struggling with parenting. But tell me, we know that we should be happy, but are we happy every single day? Doesn’t a small hello or a cute message from a friend serve as motivation to be happy? Similarly, we all know we should be good parents, but we need motivation and reminders from time to time. Don’t we?
We are so busy parenting our kids and offering them our navigation rules for this world, we forget to take inputs from them. It might sound strange that we should take cues from a two-year-old about something as complicated as parenting. But it is these cues that your child gives out that shall actually make your parenting easier and stress-free. Notice your baby’s body language, observe the role play games your four-year-old plays and if you have an older child, simply sit down and talk to him/her about her day and feelings. Your child will herself start giving you guidance on how she wants to be parented. Being in sync with your child is the foundation stone of effective parenting.
Stop to smell the roses
My kids have taught me to bask in the glory of life’s smaller joys. When I stopped being a mom who was always tugging at her kids arm in a hurry to go from home to the mall, and then from the mall to her hobby class and then back home; I realised why my kid was always being so slow. It was because while going to the mall from home, she saw an ant trail in the parking lot and wanted to follow it. It was because during our ride from the mall to the hobby class, she was watching the raindrops racing down on her window and imagining they were children of her class competing in a marathon. From the hobby class to home, she stopped at the staircase to see how a wildflower had found a way to bloom from a crack in the bottom of the wall. When I stopped with her to enjoy these little joys instead of tugging her in a raging hurry, I became a happier and calm person myself. I started valuing the smaller and bigger joys life had offered me. I started valuing my kids and husband more. I started valuing myself more. So now whenever I take my kids out somewhere, I always take a buffer of 15 minutes for “stop and smell the roses” time so that I don’t let my daughter miss a moment of beautiful life go by just because I was tugging at her so hard.
Get rid of your kids fast
You must have watched a tigress on Animal Planet sometime. What does she teach her cubs? Hunting, right? Survival is the prime thing we need to teach our kids. For example, by the time your child is five, you should have taught her to take a bath independently. By the time your child is seven, she should be in a habit of coming home and doing her homework without you having to sit with her, by the time your child is 10 he should have basic culinary skills like making a sandwich or tea. But sadly, parents in India do not teach chores to their kids at all. Mostly, it’s the maid (or sometimes, moms) who are doing laundry for a 16-year-old or even picking up the dirty dishes after him/her! If you want to be a stress-free parent and actually groom child for the big bad world out there, make sure you teach him/her skills about keeping themselves clean, feeding themselves and looking after their grades on their own at the earliest. A Harvard business study shows that kids who do household chores end up being better leaders too! That’s double the good news then, isn’t it?
We are at the horizon of an evolving and changing society. We need to teach ourselves and our kids tolerance. Accepting choices different from our own are a huge part of tolerance. Choosing whom to love, what to eat, what to say are all cardinal parts of what makes us a civilised society. Intolerance breeds hatred and violence and is also a read out of a blocked and narrow mindset. We should teach our kids love instead of hatred. We should teach them acceptance instead of apprehension. Only then shall we be assured that they shall be part of a society that is more evolved than us.
(The writer is a neo-parenting expert, author of 100 Ways to be a Stress-free Mom and Raise Happy Kids, blogger and founder, Nirvanama.)