Importance of good parenting
Parenting is the most essential and difficult responsibility most of us will ever have. Yet, it is a role for which we never receive any formal training and are left to either our own devices or expected to blindly follow a methodology that may or may not serve us in our current lifestyle!
There are many articles about parenting in the west, but all of us Indian parents could benefit from learning a few new tips and tactics that would empower us to relate to and enjoy raising our children within our own cultural norms.
Every generation has different challenges while raising their kids. 21st-century parenting is no different. Yes, the starting point is always how we were raised, the values, moral and cultural codes of conduct passed on by our moms, dads and grandparents. Then we have to take into consideration the changing times and belief systems of our generation, as well as the evolution of newer thoughts & ideas in order to develop our own unique parenting style.
The older generation or way of doing things isn’t always wrong. Throughout history, and especially in India, children have always been raised by a community! Whether in tribes or joint and extended families, the old proverb “It takes a village to raise a child,” still holds true! Think about your childhood and the different influencers that made you who you are. Can you honestly say it was just your parents who raised you? Didn’t your grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbours also have a hand in the adult you are today?
Yes – allowing children the freedom to play in the dirt, participate in family rituals, learn to eat with the family, and sometimes be alone & bored – these are all customs that we need to value even today.
And yet, some ideas may be outdated. What was perfect in another era may not work for a newer generation. Let’s look at some mistakes Indian Parents, maybe making while either too rigidly following the older parenting rituals or breaking away too much while developing new parenting mantras:
Parental control is as important an aspect as any other. It is your obligation and responsibility to be the authority figure for your child. But being too strict may not always be the solution. Constantly refusing your kid’s basic freedom can do more harm than good. It can result in your child lying about where they are, who their friends are etc.
Kids are like springs – the more you try to control them (or push them down) the more they will bounce back.. So try to understand their viewpoints. I’m not asking you to be their friend – they will have 100’s of friends through life – but only 2 parents. But don’t be a tyrant either. Have open conversations with them. Come to mutually acceptable solutions or consequences of actions beforehand. Be friendly and accessible – A little freedom will have your kids open up to you. Of course, establish your authority in areas where there can be no argument, especially concerning their mental, emotional and physical safety. When you are open to some things, it’s easier for your kids to accept your authority in other, more important areas.
- No Conversations only Instructions
Most of us are aware of the significance of communication. Talk to your child and pay attention to what they have to say. Normal, daily, and non-crucial conversations are essential to build the bond with your growing child. They also help in building trust both ways. You will have a better relationship with your child if you keep the lines of communication open, and your youngster will feel comfortable coming to you when he or she has a problem.
Talk to your kids. Not just about their report cards and homework but also about their likes, dislikes, and hobbies. Have conversations that are of interest to your kids.
- Giving in to every Tantrum
It’s only natural for parents to want their children to have everything they want. Taking this kindness a step too far and granting every tantrum sets a damaging precedent. As your children are growing up, they will need to establish their independence. They will look to you for guidance and they will also try to push your boundaries. Be clear where your line is. Sometimes you may decide to give in to a compelling argument. Other times, you will need to stand your ground. There is a thin line between fulfilling your child’s every wish and helping them see that you are considering their desire and making an informed decision.
Every tantrum is a teachable moment and taking this opportunity to instill independence is beneficial in the long run. You won’t become a tiger parent saying NO to your child occasionally, slowly getting them to work towards their wishes themselves. Tantrums turn into goals when they see every desire isn’t fulfilled easily and automatically.
- Hyper Focussed on grades and academics
Academics are important no doubt but ensuring your child participates in extra-curricular is also important. Such activities push kids past their academics. It’s perfectly okay to let your kid develop interests outside their academics.
We’ve heard so many success stories of people with minimal education. It is their creativity or experience that got them there. You can be an average student and still excel in life. Help your children develop goals for their grades and academics, but also be there for them during missteps. Understanding what they are good at, helping them get better. Celebrate improvements together – don’t focus on perfection.
Extracurricular activities teach our kids to properly socialize with people in the world. Parents should not miss out on this opportunity. In the 21st century, our children’s abilities to build relationships and work in teams is going to be far more important than learning and mastering any one subject.
- Viewing Success = Money/Wealth
Parents, having lived through society’s norms for quite some time, often look at their child’s future too objectively. Equating success with wealth is easy since we reward success with money even if it comes at the expense of creativity or passion. Your child knows little about how the world works and growing up in an environment that fosters a mindset of money-above-all chokes their freedom to pursue their talents.
Measuring success with the level of impact they can have on this world is a much healthier path to put your child on. Have conversations about empathetic leaders, those who care about the environment, those who have the courage to stand up for what they believe. Create a mindset of wanting to leave the world a better place for your kids. Teach them to focus and become better at the things they enjoy – and the money will surely follow.
- Comparisons with other kids
Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.
This is a huge mistake made by parents. You need to understand that comparing kids is helping no one. You might just make things worse. Comparison almost always leaves your kid feeling he/she is not good enough. This feeling does not motivate them. This can cause serious anxiety issues or even depression.
Whether young, or a teenager, appreciate them for who they are. Let them know they’re unique and you accept them as they are while supporting them in their journey towards becoming kind and caring adults.
In this modern world, a lot of parents have started focusing on western methods of upbringing. Our Indian household is a school itself and we learn so many lessons from our grandparents, relatives, etc.
My favourite childhood memory was looking forward to a summer full of stories from my grandparents that indeed were life lessons now that I look back on them. The western concept of the nuclear family has deprived kids of this bond of being influenced by different types, ages, and generations of people.
Embrace our culture.Welcome your village of grandparents, uncles, aunties, friends, etc into your child’s life . If there is something they say or do that you don’t agree with, have a conversation with your kids about it. The answer isn’t to alienate the tribe – it is to grow with it.
- Not teaching Life Skills.
One of the most common mistakes we make is that we do not insist on children taking any responsibilities for chores until later in life Spoiling them because the maids, drivers and other household help can do all our work.
Kids need to learn responsibility from a young age. Start from basic things like putting their toys back in place after playing. Or making their bed first thing in the morning. You can start teaching them survival skills like cooking, washing clothes, etc. Starting this at a young age gives children a sense of competence. They feel like they are a part of something. It helps build self-reliance.
Taking care of the family’s home and belongings helps children develop pride. You learn to enjoy your possessions and be proud of your ownership when you take care of them. Children feel like they’re an important part of the family, that the family relies on them to complete certain tasks. That builds self-esteem.
A lot of parents keep their kids busy with school and extracurricular activities constantly. to the point that kids start feeling the pressure taking a toll on their mental health. Let kids be kids. Leave them some time to breathe during the day. Schedule 1 extra activity each quarter. Letting them miss school or class occasionally will cause no harm. Spend time with them watching movies and going on picnics. Encourage their interests and do activities together – building a bond that will stand strong through many ups and downs.
Children inherently have the ability to act without having to worry about their impact on those around them. This is what gives them the choice to act, to be bold and try new things. Encourage their enthusiasm to try new things, without the pressure to define success the way you define it.
Children can quickly sense what actions their parents take pride in and often this demonizes failures. This pressure can start building from a very young age, discouraging them to experiment without the fear to fail the expectations set for them. Encourage children to get out of their comfort zones and support learning from mistakes. This not only helps them push their boundaries but also keeps their curiosity alive as they grow up.
If they want to take part in a play, they shouldn’t worry about getting the leading role, or forgetting their lines, or getting a standing ovation. Let them know you are proud of them for trying. And, if something goes wrong, let them know it’s ok to fail. Failing is what builds strength, grit and resilience far more than being applauded all the time.
Lastly, I just want to say, let’s not worry too much about raising our kids the “right way”. What is the “right way”, anyway? There is no such thing as a Perfect Parent, yet each one of us has the perfect child for sure! So, let’s just be mindful of some of the above mistakes we may be making, but also use our instincts and inner voice as a compass to guide us to our perfectly imperfect style of Indian Parenting.