Can you really become a perfect parent? Perhaps not and that’s what author and mom Dr Swati Lodha found out while talking to her teenage daughter. The discussions between the two eventually led to a book titled 54 Reasons Why Parents Suck! And Phew.
“A lot of parents feel that it is sacrilege to use ‘parenting’ and ‘suck’ in the same sentence,” she said in a Ted Talk, pointing out that the book was written in a way that teenagers could connect to it.
In the talk, Dr Lodha goes on to point out some of the parenting problems that children have to cope with, ideas she gathered after speaking to kids for her book. For instance, for most parents, disagreement is equal to disrespect. Parents love obedience; they dislike defiance. “The problem here is a very simple illusion of control,” she remarked. “What children want from us is that we recaliberate our relationship with obedience and defiance,” she said.
Secondly, parents suffer from an endowment effect. “Parents have a sense of ownership and emotional investment in their children. So whatever they do becomes the best. And children also start overestimating themselves in the same way. Children want parents to be more realistic,” she explained, adding how they must be taught to accept failures and deal with their fears.
While a parent’s performance is never reviewed, they tend to love measurable outcomes and disapprove and judge any other progress. “Children say that ‘parents as insiders being witnesses to what we are doing cannot only value outcomes. They need to value our intentions to’,” she said.
Parents see but do not observe, Dr Lodha feels, and suffer from what she calls the “slipper slope” bias. And because of their lack of observation parents feel shocked when they find out that their children are involved in things like substance abuse or contemplating suicide.