Thursday, June 9, 2016

Parenting Young Children - The Way I See It

I started this post long ago. I just put the title and some how did nothing but save the title. Now that I am little free I thought of completing it.

Do I have the credentials to write it? May be. I am not trained in Psychology rather I am an engineer. My Strength for writing this piece comes from the fact that me and my wife parented two children and I have many years experience of mentoring my juniors on this issue(when advice is sought by them) as part of my job as their immediate senior (wondering how come? This is a part of my duty in the organisation I work with).

I will touch up on only two points there there could be some more. Let me also mention that the views expressed here in are mine and no one needs to agree with it.

First is about Growth of Child. A child is an asset of God handed over to you to nurture. It is natural for each parent to strive to give the best that can be provided to the child. But the Best that is provided is Best in the opinion of Parents and is dictated not by practicality but by the social standing and taste of parents. The affordability is also a factor

Let me give one or two examples. Not purely hypothetical, parents send their child to a play  KG or Primary school  from say Colaba in Mumbai to Andhari by a (AC) bus. The child travels for about 1.5 to 2 hrs one way. What kind of energy this child would be left by end of the day is a moot question. Why go that far? Because in the opinion of the Parents no school in Colaba is fit enough for their Prince / Princees. They want to provide the best to the Child (best as understood by them) but in turn the child is getting fatigued by this unnecessary travel on daily basis is conveniently overlooked by the Parents.

Many a parents force their children to learn not one, not two some time three or even more things like Synthesizer, Tennis, Singing, etc. They also force their children to take up subjects that the parents desire not the subjects at which the child is good or has aptitude. I feel the parents in such cases are trying to relive their young age and trying to provide what they could not get as a child or going little harsher in my language, making the child achieve what they could not in their young age, in some or the other field. The dream of the child be damned in this whole process. How will a Tulsidas become Aryabhatta (they are from different age but I am giving this example to highlight their fields of mastery).

We, the parents are the custodians of the child on the behalf of the Almighty (and lets not get into the debate of what that Almighty is called). Have you ever seen a gardener forcing a plant or tree to grow at 90 degree from its vertical growth? Yes, some times it does happen that the plants or trees are forced for some specific purpose but most plants are not. we are the gardeners and our task is to nurture the plant called child, provide him the warmth, love care and guidance and we should let the child bloom. Everyone is gifted naturally in one or the other field. we should let the child grow in the field in which he / she is gifted. We should let the child live his life and not force him to relive our own life and force him to achieve something that we could not in our own lives.

The second point is constantly comparing own children with each other or praise one child to demean the other child. Let me go back to what I said. Every one of us is naturally gifted. even within two children of the family, both may be good at similar subjects or it may be so that one is good at science subjects and other at humanities. One may be brilliant the other may be average in studies but remember, the other child would be good at something else. Then why do parents constantly praise one child in front of other and chide other for some (actual or perceived) non performance in some field where one child is good and other is good in something else.

Why don't the parents understand that no two individuals are made same by Almighty. We are not the products of production line, we are handcrafted (thus each item is different from other). Even for items produced through production line, may be one after the other, experience indicates that these similar products made on same production line at nearly at the same time also behave differently. While one operates smoothly the other gives trouble. When there is no uniformity in the performance of items produced by production line, how are children with distinct personalities, mind and body supposed to have same nature and strength areas. Even to think so is illogical.

I have been witness to ill effects of such compassion constantly done by one or both parents (or even by near relatives, grand father, grand mother, etc). But the examples that I am giving are  representative but based on some experience.

One brother is brilliant and other has been made to feel that he is not good enough so he has become alcoholic. One sister is a beauty and grace and other sister is belittled so she ends up doing all wrong. Such an constant act of parents may even result into to not so bright (in parents opinion) child, when faced with failure, with fear of constant jibs by parents, ending his life. Why we let our own children to that despair.

The solution is very simple but I wonder how many would imbibe it. Understand and accept the fact that your offspring may share some virtues and vices of yours but he / she is an individual with own characteristics. Identify his / her strength areas and weak areas and use the fundamentals of SWOT technique of management.

In SWOT technique (Duly adapted for this topic), the Strength areas of the child should be identified and they be leveraged for making the best of the Opportunities arising out of the strength area, As for Weakness, they be corrected when required such that they don't become Threats to the child's future and where weakness of the child can be misused by someone, they need to be protected against such a happening.

As for the child, give him / her enabling environment, provide necessary support, guidance and protection (where needed) and they child would soon become a giant in the field of his / her choosing as he / she grows into adult hood. The mere feeling that whatever happens, you as parent would always be there to support the child is a good enough nourishment (psychological) for the child to bloom.

Will anybody listen?

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