Multiple rules, compartmentalising your child’s day, hobby classes and tough competition – my mum would brush them off with ‘we didn’t have all this in our times.’ Whenever my mom notices me running around from one end of town to the other, or hears my excuses on why I just can’t find time to call her, she would talk about how easy parenting was ‘back then’. One day, I sat her down and asked her what it was to be a parent 30 years ago, and why our lives as parents are so difficult. Here are 10 fantastic things she shared that shifted my approach to parenting for the better.
1. The rules weren’t bombarded: We never spelt out the rules to you and just reminded you to take care when you crossed the line. Today’s parents want to control their children and it makes little sense.
2. Tiffin-box approach: Don’t compartmentalise your children’s lives. You fragment their lives into tiny pieces and expect them to learn everything.
3. Race it up: Don’t rush them into doing everything. We never rushed you and your life was not dictated by a time table. In your quest to doing everything, you are rushing through the day leaving no time for you and your children to enjoy those special moments.
4. Abundance of time: You try and give your kids everything in abundance except, your time. Kids don’t need anything if they have you. We were always there for our kids and you have accomplished so much.
5. Don’t compare: Don’t let milestones and what others say about your child bog you down. Take it as constructive criticism and move on. Children feel the pressure of your expectations.
6. Winners only: Encourage your children to be the best at what they do and also teach them to accept failure. They need to learn to deal with failure and victory with the same spirit.
7. Food tantrums: If you have so many tantrums such as no fried stuff, no sugary foods, no junk and more, then your kids are bound to voice their opinion too. They learn by observing you and if you don’t clarify why it’s right to avoid certain foods, they get adamant. This adds to the fussy eater syndrome. And, I thought just my kids were fussy eaters.
8. Friends and not acquaintances: It’s nice to meet new people but better to make a few good friends so your kids can form stronger bonds. We made few friends but good friends. You are just catching up with people and so are your kids. If they are meeting new kids each evening, how are they going to establish strong and everlasting friendships?
9. Barter time: We didn’t give you options to trade how much time should be spent watching TV so that you could have longer conversations on the phone. Or, how much greens you must eat so that we could treat you to chocolates. Don’t be on a constant barter with your kids and say things as they are.
10. Contentment & confidence: Parenting is not a race and kids are not athletes who need to be trained to win. We were content with our lives and that’s the most important thing. If you give into the competition, you are passing on that feeling of dissatisfaction to your kids. We were confident of our abilities and didn’t believe that someone else had better parenting skills that us.