Wednesday, 28 September, 2022

Puzzles of Parenting

Tulip Chowdhury

Puzzles of Parenting
Tulip Chowdhury

When the question of starting a family arises, for some parents, it's the right time to start one. Elsewhere, for a couple with job promotions looming, having children is not on the chart. And yet for some, the baby has entered the scene. The new parents have no time to watch TV dramas with the baby for there seems to be a new episode of the parenting drama in real life.

There seems to be no perfect time to start a family, for the present world runs on speed. Education, job and social ladders all require haste- slowing down may lead to falling behind the race for success. However, our biological urge to become mothers and fathers make us beat the odds and we raise families. Yes, there are challenges, but life is a journey of ups and downs. There is Mitia, a sleepless mother, saying, "Having that hyperactive son is a big riddle to solve," A single father, Rizvi, says, "My two daughters are the blessings of my life. Their mother passed, and they are all I have."

 Parenting is not stories that always have happy endings. Few theories we read on parenting fit into how we handle the little bundles of joy. The package contains chapters that wake us with nightmares, sweating, and confusion.  If lucky, we may hit a chapter in a book indicating that you are on the right track and so can snore away through the rest of the night. For eating habits, a brand of baby food a little girl usually eats gets refused suddenly until another favorite kind comes along the way.

As parents, it can be hard to decide on a magic scale in discipline; one can put a lid and give them notice of where the limit is. However, wisdom advocates choosing the mid-way in life with parenting often backfires when they charge you of being "ignorant" of their problems. You are always on the red alert of the "Parenting Storms." For some people, peace with parenting comes like sudden gusts of a spring breeze, soothes the heart momentarily.  At times, the day is a good one for parenting. The march down the parenting can go smoothly, but not without the sacrifices and patience of the parents.

The Internet is an indispensible part of life when keeping up the rest of the world. Necessity makes us screen savvy. COVID-19 with the social isolation for our health safety has made us more Internet depended than ever. For the on-line teaching of students and remote work for adults were life savers when the world was reeling under the pandemic. It had also made us more alert about Internet use in a child's early years. Bangladesh, too, has its problems and prospects. With media and the Internet exposing different cultures and the freedom of choices to children, parenting has become highly challenging. Living in a transitional society, the children also find the march to adulthood very daunting. There is a big world beckoning them with infinite dreams of success if they can grab the opportunities. However, the social, cultural, and religious values often put walls between how they want to live their lives and what the parents consider ideal. All-time peer pressure is there, a significant challenge to adulthood. Many parents have found that rigorous discipline or isolation from their peers confuses their children, and they are more puzzled. With emotional and physical growth taking them on rollercoaster rides, they need some space of their own. Societies worldwide are riddled with parenting as family breakups and divorces go up. Settling down with a good life has become much more competitive, yet violence and teenage delinquency are rising. Our children need emotional support more than ever. At times it's tough to balance the family values and the necessary freedom to grow into their beings. As Kahlil Gibran has said of children, "They come through you but not from you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts."

In the present world on-line lifestyles, the use of screens, children are like digital acrobats. Put a toy in your toddler's hand, and hear him or her say, “No, Mommy, what's that little thing in your hand? I want that thing”. Reluctantly we hand over your smartphone and then watch the magic. The toddler slides her baby fingers over the screen with "OOhs" and "Aahs" at the colorful screen displays. There are calls from children trying out the mobile phone they got a chance to try out with, "Da..da….ah". If we hold on to the call, the mother will come in and explain, "Apa, sorry about the wrong call. My toddler son did not eat without the mobile and pressed your numbers.

The children and the Internet take serious turns when the used Internet by our growing children becomes a problem when the wrong kind of connection occurs. Dangers of pedophiles lurk behind the screens. Parents and children need open discussions about the negative and positive sides of the Internet. Experts suggest that vigilance for the adults to guide children on relationships may help prevent them from misleading information from other sources. Family and friends getting together with the growing children with discussions on moral values would help with the overall development of our children. At a time when screens are sending invites to click into indecent movies, sites encouraging alcohol and drug addictions, parents are on eggshells. Some parents have to choose between well-paid jobs to be stay-at-home Moms or dads to give time to the kids. The question is, "What is the best way to guide the children on the right path?

We have left behind days of "mother-do-it-all," Dads are learning to change the diapers, feed the babies, sing lullabies, and put babies to sleep. Remember and don't tell your kid to count the sheep when putting her to sleep. Your little girl will say, "Dady, sheep are too slow; I will count cars in my Racer game." The riddle of parenting will remain unsolved. When you are a fifty- year old mother and your twenty-five-year-old daughter tells you, "Mom, you never understood me." It sets you wondering, where did you go wrong as you taught family values to your children?  You feel like starting life all over again, searching for the hidden panacea that makes parenting a little easier. If you are happy with your children's upbringing and they are satisfied with life, I'd say you are one lucky bird and have reached heaven.

As parents, we have learned to keep our minds open. Your children can be angelic, moody, rowdy, and compassionate. They can make life heaven or hell, but once the angels are here, we cannot live without them.


Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA