1. Parenting: One truth agreed by all parents is, “There are no ready answers to countless faces of parenting, and that, it’s an unsolvable mystery.” As Runi, the mother of a toddler says, “When our Creator sends a baby down to the Earth, he or she is as gently as a drifting snowflake, and yet in no time the same baby could make life as scary as tornadoes. And that more likely when parents and children are not on the same page with life.”
Although Runi does not have teenagers at home, she had seen her elder sister’s struggle with her growing children. And she was looking at parenting and her children’s coming years as a challenging up-hill drive. The march from teenage to adulthood is more difficult than the baby days for our emotional and physical developments are unlikely to be at the same level. It’s not only the children that are facing physical and mental changes with time and tide, but the parents also have ups and downs as they advance in years.Added to all that is the changes that happen in the society around us. Evolution is an essential part of life. However, as individuals, and for each family, making adjustments to the metamorphosis this quality of life is more challenging than ever. David, a banker, and the father of two teenage sons remarks, “At times we wake up every morning as if we are about to walk paths that are filled with landmines, one wrong step and we are done, and we could be busted.”
To blend with the needs of the family, when parents spend time with the children, the bonding undoubtedly is stronger. Studies reveal that children follow their parents or guardians where life lessons are concerned. A child growing up in a peaceful home, one that has parents as steady and loving guides, has better chances of merging as stable adults. For the parents though, the situations get more robust every day; between work and home, where is the time slot to give entirely to the children? Working parents have jobs that are emotionally and physically draining. At the end of a working day, when they are with the family, they are exhausted, and it is tough to spend quality times with the children. Here, we cannot blame our selves for the weariness that descends after a long, hard day: for the stay-home parents or the working ones. The Bengali saying, “ Shorirer nam Mohashoy, jaha shohao tahai shoi” holds little credence here. “The body is a great bearer, it can carry almost anything,” so the saying goes. But the body has its limits, and we should not push it beyond its capacity, it would only break. But in the midway, children and parents could workout routines that bring them together regularly.
“My daughter usually watches her own stuff on the television, but twice a week we sit together to watch some educational documentaries. And then once a month we go outside, and at times the whole family spends the weekend visiting elderly relatives.” Says Rebecca, a school teacher. Our workplaces and children’s school have time boxed into routines, and it seems only sensible that we too can put our ‘things to do together’ into plans that stand likely chances of working than procrastination.
The recent trend of divorces leaving children with broken homes is the biggest challenge of these times in being a parent. After a divorce may come, a second or third marriage and the children from the former marriages are caught up the with whirlwinds of parenting. There are whole new chapters that could enter about the parenting of the step-children. However, for all children, there are no fixed rules or recipes for being the perfect parents. It is about the best we can do as we help our loved ones to find their places in the world. Love can work wonders and has us achieve wonders. Instead of being stressed about how the children are growing up or if we are doing the right things about parenting, just love each other, and the rest will follow.
2. Kindling kindness: Too often it seems, we wait for the right moment to share our blessings, for more money to come before we give. Generosity is more about giving out of what we already have, not waiting for a distant future. The will to give creates ways to practice kindness out of things at our disposal. What we call as ‘ours’ or ‘my’ come through the grace of life, and those who have more are the fortunate ones, but our blessings begin with the responsibility of sharing.
Practising kindness does not mean only giving of material things, it could be words or a smile. Cultivating empathy is more about feeling for other lives as you would think for yourself. As Kahlil Gibran has said, “We give of our self when we give of our self.” Kindness is supposed to be a flower that breathes through our will, our desire to give is like the sun and the air for kindling generosity.And more, if we cannot reach out to many of the needy ones, doing what each can is still like saving a life every day. As Mother Theresa has said, “If you cannot feed hundred, feed just one.” As humans, our responsibility is not limited to helping other humans only, but other living things as well. When migrating birds are sold right under our nose in the streets of Dhaka for cooking delights, it is the responsibility of the alert citizens to bring awareness to the cruelty of killing of the beautiful birds.
Life is like a guitar that waits to be played, and how we play the songs to life depends greatly on one individual choice. Each breath of life is a blessing, one that could be taken away without prior notice. And hence, each breath needs celebrations, and how can we rejoice without the company of others? In sorrow and joy, we as humans stand beside one another, sharing could make all the differences for us.
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA.