A New Blog
This page is being revised and updated and is being posted in a new blog <www.bringingupchildren.in> . Please visit this blog from now onward as eventually this Page will be outdated when the process is complete. However, the comments on this page are being retained as unchanged and are not being transferred to the new Blog as some of you may want to refer to these comments in the future.
A Beautiful Gift
The most beautiful gift that we ever get is a child. The marvel is that this is the only gift that comes with our lifetime warranty; it generally is with us or near us for our full lifetime!
The sparkle in the child’s eyes, the glow of its body, the activity and playfulness, the love for life, the curiosity to learn, the joy and happiness that is packed within, charms almost everyone including the proud parents!
With the passage of time, the child grows up! But the sparkle and glow do a slow disappearing act, joy and happiness get replaced by fear, anxiety, worry, tension and anger, curiosity and activity turn to lack of interest in life and lethargy!
What happened during the growing up years? What went wrong with the upbringing?
This needs deliberations by all of us, to be parents, those that are already parents and also those who have already finished parenting!
Insight and understanding while bringing up children will make a world of a difference to the quality of our lives and of our children!
Ideally, but in reality it is generally not the case, all persons responsible for bringing up children should have discovered who they really are. This is the main subject matter on the ‘Home’ page of this Blog!
You will notice that such an important subject is covered in a mere 15 posts only! One can discover one self instantaneously. All one has to do is to become aware of the present moment! At the worst it will take less than 15 days if we devote one day to each post for reading, re-reading, understanding and experiencing the knowledge contained in the Blog!
Special attention has to be given to the environment into which we are planning to bring our child!
It goes without saying that it should be clean and hygienic, well organized and managed at the physical level.
At the emotional level, there should be good understanding and communication between the parents. Acceptance of each other as we are at present, love and respect for each other are prerequisites for the healthy upbringing of the new born child. Our home should be a peaceful place, full of love and caring which nurtures good growth of a child!
If this is not the case, assuming that this will happen after the birth of the child, may be very risky. The demands of the new born baby, may leave the parents with very little emotional and physical energy to improve any other situation! It is best to delay having the child, if that is possible.
Space, Attention & Understanding
If you notice a new born child, you will find that it is very happy with itself. It cries only when there are needs of the body like food, cleanliness etc..
Giving too much attention takes away this inherent capacity of the child to be happy with itself! Every child, as well as all adults, need space to do their own thing most of the time! Attention should be given only when the child needs it or there are safety concerns! As the child grows, we also need to give it the attention and understanding that we would give to an adult and not ignore it as it is only a small child! This will build the child’s self esteem and love for itself as he is being loved and respected too!
Seeding of Desires & Awareness
Most parents think that motivation comes from seeding desires in the child. ‘If you do this then you will get this toy!’
If you observe a child, you will notice the sparkle in it’s eyes and the joy and happiness within. This indicates a sense of completeness within every child’s Intellect! Further, all children generally are living in the present moment only, quite unlike adults, who imagine and get anxious and worried about the future most of the time!
Parents have to be aware that seeding of desires is the beginning of building up of the Ego of the child which implies incompleteness in the Intellect of the child. Then the child starts moving out of present moment living and moves on a imagined journey in the future to fulfill it’s desires and achieve completeness!
Therefore seeding of the desires has to be done with great care and patience, ensuring that the incompleteness we are building in along with the loss of joy and happiness, is kept to the lowest possible level!
Unfortunately desires, like weeds, multiply rapidly and automatically and incompleteness and loss of joy within the child mushrooms as the child grows up!
Child’s Capabilities & Competition
Parents are quite often driven to achieve their goals and desires through their children! Such children are kept very busy doing what the parents had wanted to do, but were unable to do, due to some reason or the other!
Sensitive parents will keep their own desires aside and understand the capabilities and interest of the child and help him develop in those areas. Interest and passion of the child are great motivators for the child’s activities.
There should be no demands on the child to be competitive like being on top of the class or the best sportsman etc. Every child cannot be the first and the best! Fortunately, our world is big enough to give space to all of us and not only for the first and the best!
Instead of competition, parents should inculcate co-operation so that the child learns team work, networking and other relevant skills to play and work in the bigger social environment of family, teams, organisations etc.
Good parents are like gardeners who water, change the soil, add fertiliser, keep the pests away, etc. to help the plant bloom to its fullest capabilities. But they will not force the Rose plant to bloom into a Tulip!
Comparison with Siblings and Peers
Frequently, we hear parents admonishing the child and comparing him/her with siblings and peers. Statements like ‘See how good and studious is your brother’, ‘why aren’t you as well behaved as your classmate Sailesh?’ etc.
This affects the child’s self esteem and the child will start resenting his/her brother and his/her classmate, perhaps for the rest of his/her life! Communication and love between siblings disappear because of such parenting. Instead the child starts harboring jealousy and hatred for his/her siblings and peers! These emotions will not help the child and may even affect his/her physical and psychological health
Parents have to realise that each child is unique and has or can develop specific capabilities and strengths only. Comparing the child to others, is in fact asking the child to be a copier rather than an original person. No child can achieve anything substantial in life by copying. He can, if he does what he is capable of, and if the parents understand this and help him develop his own specific capabilities.
Even while praising one child in the presence of another, we have to convey very clearly that we do not expect the other child to compete with the child that is being praised, as the other child also has his own capabilities and strengths and we parents are proud of him too!
Parents have to let the Rose plant bloom Roses and for the Tulip plant to bloom Tulips! We should not force the Rose plant to bloom Tulips!
Expression, Communication & Socially Acceptable Behaviour
Parents are generally very proud of children who are obedient! This means that the child does not question whatever the parents says or wants him/her to do. Unfortunately, this also means that the child is not using his/her Intellect at all and he/she is relying on the parent’s Intellect! The child is functioning like a robot with the remote in the hands of the parents! Do we parents really want this? We are in effect preventing the child’s Intellect from developing, thereby handicapping the child!
Parents have to help the child develop its expression, communication and discussion capabilities from a very young age. Post discussion the child should be allowed to make the decision which affects him/her!
There comes a time when the child keeps on repeatedly asking ‘Why’. This has to be patiently and carefully addressed by the parents for building expression, communication and understanding capabilities in the child. Ignoring the child when he asks why, will develop poor communication skills in the child! How we respond to the child will have great impact on the child’s Intellectual capabilities! Great amount of patience in the parents is required for the child to be strong physically and psychologically!
Many parents spend a lot of time and energy teaching, training and disciplining children to have socially acceptable behaviour patterns including saying ‘Thank you’, ‘Sorry’, ‘Please excuse me’ etc. whereas there own behaviour patterns may leave a lot to be desired.
Such imposition of behaviour is akin to asking the child to wear a mask and not be himself! It is quite similar to teaching the child to lie!
Instead of teaching, let it become a process of learning so that it becomes the child’s nature and the changed behaviour pattern is lasting. This can be done by the parents setting an example by their own behaviour which children generally tend to copy and then it slowly becomes their nature!
Exercising strong control over the children‘s behaviour by the parents, leads to children putting on their masks and behaving well in their presence and misbehaving when they are not around! This, wearing of the mask and taking off, is not an emotionally healthy activity. Whereas, being our own self at all times is emotionally comfortable and stable activity for children as well as the parents! So, parents should give their child the space to be themselves at all times!
Teach the children by setting an example! Behaviour that needs improvement or change can be pointed out to the child but never in public! It should be done in privacy with the child alone so that his self esteem does not get damaged. Further, he/she should be given adequate time to improve or change his/her behaviour. But at no time should the parents attack the self esteem of the child! The child is never bad, only the behaviour can be pointed out as being not acceptable!
Eating & Health
What the child will be physically and emotionally in the future will depend a lot on the eating habits he has developed in childhood.
Most parents see eating as a phenomenon of feeding the child adequately every day even if it means running around the house with a plate full of food and feeding the child huge morsels of food while he/she is busy doing something else!
Eating is much more than that. It starts with keeping our dining area very neat, clean and hygienic. It should be made attractive with table cloths and mats, flowers, candles, artifacts etc from time to time. Eating times should be happy and memorable times sharing ideas, thoughts and activities done or planned, and not time for serious discussions, or distractions like watching TV or video, working with computers or reading magazines or books. It is certainly not a time for disciplining the children.
In many homes the family say a prayer of gratitude before starting to eat. This is indeed a good way to start, enjoy and digest the food. Our Intellect has to become aware that we are eating good and wholesome food, so that it automatically directs our body to produce the required chemicals and juices for digesting the specific foods we are eating!
Joining our children at the dining table or on the floor for every meal is a fine way to train our children on good eating habits. A prayer, good humour, exchange of pleasantries are a nice start to the meal. While food laid on the table will be as per the choice of the parents based on good nutrition, children have to be served items as per their choice and the quantity should also be as per the child’s requirements. Only the child knows how much and what can be digested by his/her body at that meal time! Forcing food into the mouths of children will lead to poor digestion, health and food eating disorders as they grow up!
Nutritious food should generally be available and accessible to the children all day long and should be taken by or given to them on demand, in addition to the food available at the regular meal times when the whole family sits together to eat!
Bad and unwholesome food should be removed immediately from the dining and storage areas as soon as it is detected and it should be disposed off. Criticising food at the dinner table does not help others who may like it and are consuming it. Criticism can stop the digestion process in other persons who are consuming that food.
Children should be allowed to eat junk (processed and packaged) food too in smaller quantities and not so frequently, as there will be peer and advertising pressures on the child to do so. We have to make our children aware of what is junk food and what is nutritious food. The availability of junk food at home should be limited!
Good digestion happens when we chew, masticate our solid foods till they become liquid. We can teach our children this by setting an example and taking sufficient time at every meal to chew, masticate, see, feel, taste and smell the food we consume! If we grab a sandwich on the run, so will our children! Avoid being such a role model!
Good health, disease free living is based on good eating habits! We have to start early with our lovely children so that they bloom well!
Patience, Love & Care
No matter how much is written about these three attributes, it will be less than they deserve. Parenting is all about these three attributes being in force at all times for bringing up children. Double Income Nuclear families have to be very careful and watch out for inadequacy of the above attributes in them due to limited time and energy available to such parents.
Lack of these three attributes in parenting may result in children growing up into adults who are unhappy with themselves as well as with life, adults who are unable to use their Intellect properly, adults who are neither able to help themselves nor others!
To be a continuous source of these virtues, parents need to discover themselves first. This subject is comprehensively covered in the home page of the blog http://www.livelifefully.in
Patience, Love and Care can easily replace punishing a child which has only a temporary effect. PLC will yield better and more permanent results. It gives the child the chance and time to correct its thinking, understanding and its behaviour. In so doing, the child ends up making a permanent change within himself/herself! Whereas punishment instills a fear in the child to correct itself. The fear itself is not a healthy phenomena in the psyche of the child! Most of us adults spend a lifetime trying to overcome the fear instilled in us by our parents, family, friends, teachers and others! Fear should really never be used as a tool in parenting! It permanently damages the child! Fear resides within the Ego of the child and then it becomes an overriding driver for decision making! Imagine how good the decisions will be, if they are based on fear!
Parents fulfilling their desires and aspirations through their children.
This is quite common and many parents are very busy taking their child from one activity or study class to another without becoming aware of the child’s likes, inclinations and interests. Sooner or later the child will lose interest in what the parent is pushing him/her to do and may reject that activity for the rest of his life! Becoming aware of the child’s interests and capabilities should really be the starting point for extra classes and activities for the child. When the child loses interest in any activity, he/she must be withdrawn from that activity to give him time to pursue what he really likes.
Parents bringing up children to be obedient and as a support system for their old age.
For most parents happiness is when we have an obedient child! The child does not question us and does what we tell him/her to do! We are in fact asking the child to discard his/her own Intellect as we are not giving the child opportunities to use it! The only way to develop the child’s Intellect is to let the child make all the decisions that affect him/her starting slowly though with specific areas like eating, then dressing, and so on!
Further, developing the child to become our walking stick in our old age is setting limitations on the development of the child’s capabilities! He/she will become useless to him/herself and also will not have the strength to look after the parents. Free our children from our limitations, let them bloom fully as much as they are capable of!
Parents using fear as a motivator for behavioural change.
Fear is the most debilitating, devastating and handicapping emotion we pass on to our children. Our own fears get passed on without our being aware of it. Soon the child is afraid of doing anything, as the parents may judge it wrong! It is afraid of other persons as the parents are distrustful of others. It is afraid of playing, for fear of getting hurt. It is afraid of the dark as one or both the parents will not enter a dark room. It is afraid of insects and animals as the parents scream when they see a cockroach! It is afraid of failing as the parents do not accept mistakes and failures, despite the fact that the parents are also making mistakes and failing often! Also, children are afraid as they may fail to meet the high expectations of the parents. The child is frightened when it loses some item as the child will be shouted at by one of the parents who do not like losses. Most parents incidentally like only accumulation & hoarding and not losses!
Most parents condition the child to imagine the worst in the future, despite the fact that the future is really unpredictable and the probability of the worst happening is extremely low, much below 1 %! This way of up bringing has been handed down since generations. So, when we imagine the future to be bad we are overwhelmed with fear and its resulting negative effects on our performance! Why cant we stop this foolishness right now and allow the child to imagine a very positive future which has probably over 99% probability?
Parents have to become aware of their own fears so that this process of passing on our fears to children is terminated immediately! The next generation should have very low level of fears. Fears should be limited to Safety concerns only!
Parents threatening to leave the child who is refusing to come with them
When a child refuses to leave a place, be it a shop or even the child’s grandparents home, it is not uncommon for the parents to say ‘Ok we will leave you here, Bye.’ Such a statement builds in fear of a separation from the parents and then it remains as an anxiety in the psyche of the child. Sometimes this anxiety lasts the entire lifetime. This imagined loss of parents by the child, builds in weakness in the child. Similarly, death of the parents also should not be discussed in the presence of children as it may trigger off the separation anxiety in the child.
Instead, very strong statements should be made to the child that we, parents, will never leave them and will always be available to them at any time and location despite how they behave and act! Parents must regularly reinforce that the connection of Parent and a Child cannot and shall not be broken by them under any circumstances for our complete lifetime! This will strengthen the psyche of the child, who is assured that his parents will always be there for him/her whenever the child wants them to be around!
From Parent-Child to a relationship of Equals!
We become parents with the birth of our first child! The question is, should we ever stop being a parent? The answer is a firm yes, if we have the interest of our child in our heart rather than our own interest! The next question is, when? We have to become an equal from a parent as soon as possible!
Most parents think and act as if our child remains always a child no matter how old it has grown, even if the child has grown up children of its own! Parents take on full responsibility to make all the decisions, give free advice, even tell grown up children who have started working and earning, what to wear, eat and drink, when to sleep and when to get up, where and when to go, to wash hands before meal times etc.! Such parenting, handicaps the child and makes him/her dependant on the parents!
So, what is the process of becoming a friend from a parent? Live and let live, (allow the child to live his own life as he would like to do) and allowing the child to be him/herself all the time! Sooner the better, but there is really no fixed timetable as this depends on the self development capabilities of each child!
The way is, to hand over decision making in regular and frequent intervals to the child based on his abilities that he/she is developing! The very first decision we can hand over is of eating; when and what to eat. This can be followed by what to wear, where to go, what to play, when to study and when to do homework etc. Slowly but steadily, we can hand over decision making for all his/her activities to the child. By the time the child is a teenager most of the decisions that affect him/her should be made by him/her.
Many mistakes will be made by the child but let them be, and let him/her learn from his/her own mistakes rather than a parent saying ‘I told you so’! This will make the child strong and independent! Parenting is to make the child as independent as possible as early as possible too! Then the parents remain as very good friends for life with whom the children have very easy communication and a very healthy love and respect as well.
A lot of couples become parents thinking that its the correct time or thing to do so that they will have support as they grow older.
Yes, skills related to parenting are learnt through the experience of it, but it is essential for the parents-to-be to become aware of themselves, their desires, fears etc as much as they can – so that unawareness is not the cause for the child’s stresses/fears etc. Being aware, also brings sensitivity to understanding why a child doesn’t want to eat something or go to some class. Working through these situations will strengthen the child and also the relationship. Discipline, enforcement, unspoken expectations can ruin the relationship which should ideally grow and bloom over time.
You are very right! The key is simple and it is ‘Awareness of one’s own self’! Parent child relationship can be a very beautiful & loving one or a painful & traumatic one. The choice is of being aware or being unaware, which is parenting like a robot! Parents have to give a lot of emotional space to the child for it’s own growth into a wonderful adult having full equality with its parents at the very earliest!