Subha Manoj

While I Was Away

Subha Manoj

Childhood matters when it comes to parenting.

“You have to perform better.”
“85% is not good enough!”
“Dress better.”
“Don’t make a fool of yourself.”
“No phone calls from your friends.”
“Get up early..that is what good kids do!”
“X is better than you.”

If you have heard these phrases from your parents as a child, and now you are a parent, read on. This post is
for you.

Whoever said parents know the best and are always right has to take a reality check. It is not true. Parents are also humans, they could also make wrong choice of words, behaviour and parenting skills. And when they do, the child suffers irreparable damage. The damage, I would say can be minimised but not eradicated. If you, as a child have had parents who have been emotionally overbearing, over expecting, demanding and perfectionist, you will know what I am talking about.

Now for hard facts, which many may not be ready to accept. But it is what it is: TRUTH.

1. Parents can go wrong, terrible wrong.

2. All those words which you hated to hear as a child, all those restrictions which you disliked, is most likely
to come out of your parenting behaviour towards your child. (Under most circumstances) You could reason it as your childhood which gets deeply rooted in your psyche without your knowledge, or genes, or imbibed behaviour.

3. You will have high expectations out of your child too. (Under most circumstances)

4. Either you realise that you have parenting issues which is good. Or you are in denial. Either ways parenting
will be tough for you. It is laden with guilt due to wrong behaviour towards your child.

So, you had tough parents, you wished you had an easy home…you really couldn’t do anything about it. Now what?
The good news is you realise you have issues. I strongly believe that every generation is a refined version of
their previous one. The chances to adapt to solutions and change are better. So here is what you can do:

1. Take small steps. If you say to yourself, “I will never shout or raise hand at my child from tomorrow.”, the
stakes are very high. You are constantly under pressure and the day the pressure bursts or stars to devour you, you will fall back on your words. Most importantly, never make such a promise to your child. One, you are teaching him/her that it is ok to break a promise according to your convenience. Second, your child will stop trusting you.

2. It is okay to falter. Many years of bringing up and the shadow of your parents will have deep rooted affects on you, which is very tough to remove in a few days or even months. It takes time. And n this process, you may make mistakes, repeat them too and it is OKAY.

3. Make friends who understand your issue. I strongly recommend this. Friends can make or break you. Right words, right emotions can pick you up or make you fall flat on your face. If you speak to ten people, I am sure you will be able to find atleast one with whom you can relate this issue which you are facing. You are lucky if both of you become a mutual support system.

4. Stay away from ‘perfect’parents. They do not exist. When people say that they never scold their children or shout at them, they are lying. And if they are not lying, they are harming themselves and their kids. Anger is a normal emotion like happiness. A child has to be taught to deal with anger too. He/She needs to understand that it is okay to be angry and how best he can work with his anger. Anger comes with guilt many a times, which is not necessary.

5. Make small doable and practical rules for yourself: Eg,

  • I will not teach when I am tired or having PMS.
  • I will find better ways to teach which doesn’t make me sit with my child constantly during study time. For eg: 
  • Prepare question papers and ask the child to write answers. The chances that you will lose temper is more when you ‘hear’ wrong answers. 
  • I will not put him in more than one hobby class and one coaching class. 
  • If I am unable to teach properly, I will choose tuition. No, there is nothing wrong to put a 1st grader in a tuition class if you are short of time, are a working parent, have more than one child, have no family support to pitch in with household chores, are yourself poor in a language subject, and so on. 

6. Be protective about yourself and your child. Let no one judge you or your child. Let them know you do not like comparing yourself or your child with anyone.

7. “Is my child going to love coming back to his home, if I do this?” Ask this question to yourself as much as possible. You will find answers yourself. Aim at having a home your child would love to come back to. Ask yourself this question as much as possible, you will surprised at the result.

8. Choose the right school. If your child is in a perfectionist school (There are few springing up now!), it will not help you in anyway. The school will pressurize the child and you, and the vicious circle is unending. The choice of school for such parents should be the ones which deal with kids with patience and treat each child as individual. They do consider that a child can be 5 or 6 years old in 1st grade, and it is not the same. A child is not a parrot. They have to be dealt with humanity and courtesy. If it was all about grades, then there would not be so many great men and women coming out of college drop outs!

9. Don’t fear or feel uncomfortable taking professional help if you just cannot deal with your situation. Many a times, a few sessions of professional counselling is all it needs. It is as simple as consulting a doctor when you have a cold or fever.

I am not a professional counseller, but these small steps can really help you. It is not word of mouth. After all, we are all products of our experiences.

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