We have fathers and mothers who are well informed of parental skills, either self-taught or trained. These days we only have to Google to learn past, present and future of parenting. However, the greatest teacher to hit the nail on the head at this daunting task is experience. The reason is simple, our beings are different and hence learning from one child may fit into some parts of life in the other, but none is a complete lesson. Each child comes into the world with his or her own thoughts. As Kahlil Gibran said,
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.”
As parts of life, children are like trees, each growing with fruits and flowers of different kinds. And on the same tree we have fruits with lesser or more tastes, flowers that vary in sizes. Imperfection is often evasive and we cling to our expectations. There are dreams surrounding a child, but we cannot implement each one of them on our children as they grow. Some of them may come true and others get lost on the way. In the other picture, a child has his or her own dreams about the parents, and they feel frustrated when they do not come to reality. Neither the child nor the parents are perfect in fitting into our roles. Life is like a jigsaw puzzle with some pieces missing.
Too often parents adopt attitudes that are not realistic for the child’s personality. Studies reveal that there are times when we try to fit them into a perceived personality, imagine them to carry on from where we have failed. At times we discipline them with rules that are coerced into their beings. Many parents are over confident and incorrect in perceiving a child’s personality development. Well informed parents can be flexible and give space to their child to grow in his or her own light. However, without even realising, many of us tend to be negative in attitudes to how the child as her own being and keep hankering on what is expected. It is like planting a bright red rose bush, and expecting each and every rose to be perfect. Many of our parenting errors rise out of expectations of best scores in life from our children. We fall into traps of being fair weather parents without meaning to. Parenting is challenging for the average parents, even with one of them working is hectic these days. When both parents are working, balancing jobs and home are no easy matters. Often, holding on to our calm can be daunting. But we have to control our exploding temper and hold back with a leash of keeping on mind what is good for the child.
Priorities of child care gets veiled behind the glaring demands of daily life hassles and we fall into negativity. Like many other aspects of life, grass being greener on the other side of the field seeps in. As kids start going to school, we see other kids who are ahead of child development than ours. A puzzle sets: Why can’t my child be smart like them or is there something I am doing the wrong way? Being humans, we cannot help feeling let down by life once in a while. But rule of the thumb is never to compare your child with another, while we may watch and learn from other kids, never speak out. Adults or children – we all want our own special place with the loved ones. Children who are constantly on negative remarks or ridicule, grow up to be insecure adults.
Each child finds his or her own ways in life through trial and error. Over protective parents tend to be too restrictive on children and fail to see that mistakes are a part of learning about life. It when life threatening issues come that we really need to put our feet down. Kids need to play around mud and sand, fall and bruise a little in order to learn walking. They need to touch hot water to know what cold is like or experience silence to know the joy of music. Children in Bangladesh are in a transition these days. Media brings them western, Indian and other cultures. The unknown horizons seem more exciting and as children grow up, the experimenting starts. Language turns to Hindi or English more than Bangla, while some of them are wearing Hijab in incorrect forms others are in revealing western clothes. Tagore songs no longer embrace moments of joy but we dance to fast Hindi or English tracks. Sarees have sort of gone out of our culture. We celebrate the Bengali spirit on Pohela Boishakh, hold up Bangla Language on 21st February while rest of the year may be all about watching and absorbing other cultures.
Home is the corner stone of learning and so we cannot expect our children to learn from what they witness occasionally. As teenagers, when we tell them to follow Bengali life styles, or hold on to family values. But how can they blend themselves to an ideal life portrayed to them if they grow up seeing fragmented information? While we want them to learn from other cultures, we do not want them to fall back on their own. It is no easy feat to explain the concept of universal approach to life and make sure roots are nurtured too.
Discipline is needed for children but it is to be like the strings of guitar, neither too harsh nor too relaxed. To play the songs of life with sweet tunes, parents, guardians and children need to play all strings right.
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA