Continuing the discussion from the previous post, Is it necessary to understand parenting?……
I often ask to myself, if parents can be perfect beings at all times? Doesn’t being mindful of all that we speak and do in front of the kids, restrict us from our spontaneous flow of life? And most importantly, if it is really necessary to understand, contemplate, dissect, dig, and study parenting in order to follow on some parenting rules in our everyday lives?
Back in college, a good friend was habituated to use filthy words in almost every sentence she spoke. Once, when I visited her home, I observed that it was an accepted norm in her entire family. As a matter of fact, it’s not specifically about what parents speak or do in front of the children. It is more about the values that are being observed in the family that children are susceptible to pick up.
Children are the true mirrors of the values that sub-consciously float within a family. Parenting echoes family values!
The mother is reared from one family and the father comes from another set of family ideals. When they both live together in marriage, some of their values get retained, some find changes and some new values get created. Some could be mutually agreed upon while some could be on an indefinite conflict. And then the baby arrives. He assimilates some from the maternal line, some from the paternal line, some of the mutually agreed upon things and some of the things-on-conflict. The source of his assimilation gradually extends to the grandparents, neighbours, television artists, teachers, friends and the rest of the world as he progresses to becoming an adult. In spite of the fact that an adult doesn’t stop shaping his values, the fundamental elements that the child in him holds within, could become deep-rooted.
What do I mean by ‘Family Values’? Can one identify them?
It can refer to everything – from aspects related to habits to everyday living to just everything! It isn’t a matter of pinpointing a sentence you spoke or an incident that happened, in order to define a family value.
Let’s see the following instances:
#1 You attend a birthday party. On the way back home, in the car, you discuss how poor the party was organized, how disrespectful the host were and how untidy the place looked.
You attend a birthday party. On the way back home, in the car, you discuss the brilliant ideas used for the party decoration, the taste of food served and what fun the kids had in the party.
You attend a birthday party. On the way back home, in the car, you discuss how you feel stressed for having wasted a few hours for a silly party, the number of chores that are awaiting you and why you wouldn’t want to attend another party of this kind.
You attend a birthday party. On the way back home, in the car, you discuss how you celebrated your birthdays years before, the memories associated with birthdays and what you like the most about birthdays.
Perhaps, it could be all of the above.
#2 A child pushes your girl down in the play area.
You pick your girl up and give a piece of mind to the other child.
You pick your girl up and inquire both about what had happened.
You pick your girl up and call out for the child’s parents and register your compliant to them.
You pick your girl up, chide your girl for being pushed and take her away.
#3 The boy next door refuses to share his toys with your boy.
Your boy becomes sad and comes to you with a dull face.
Your boy tries to convince him to share his toys.
Your boy cries, throws a tantrum and calls for everybody’s attention.
Your boy gives him a kick, snatches his toys and runs away.
The first scenario projects what the parents focus on, about an incident, situation or experience.
In the second, parents demonstrate how they react in a situation.
The third scenario reflects the values the child holds in himself.
Such occurrences happen to all of us, day in and day out. Where from then are we going to identify the values that are already rooted in our homes?
No questionnaire can be made for this purpose! We will have to watch our kids, watch ourselves, recollect incidents, record a 30-minute audio of a dinner time or a drive (to playback later), ask questions to our children and ask questions to ourselves.
This exercise done, over around a week, and perhaps a few rounds of such exercises with time gaps, can on a general note, tell you something on what we, as a family, hold in us, and also, in each of us.
Well, what next?
This exercise is NOT intended to analyze what’s right and what’s wrong within the family. Rather, it is to understand the priorities of the family – what’s important, what’s important sometimes, what’s almost not important. And then you decide, how right, wrong, happy, not happy, correct, incorrect, good, bad are the directions in which the family is sailing towards.
Okay, what is parenting to do with this exercise?
The more our four-year-old boy is learning to express his emotions and thoughts, the more I can relate it all to either the father’s or mine. One day, when I heard him shout for something silly, it pricked me, for I saw me in him. It was a reminder that I need to slow down, get to the ground and supervise my temper. The more I see him mirror one or both of us, the more I understand parenting.
That parenting isn’t just the interaction between the parents and the children; but beyond, on a deeper note, parenting is the integration of the family as a whole.
With the upbringing and experiences that life has offered me, I carry a set of ideals based on which, the parent in me has been working for the last four years, However, sometimes when I contemplate on how good, better or best are the values that I am passing on to my children, I don’t find a direct answer.
Perhaps, parenting is not result oriented. On what basis can one weigh parenting? Extraordinary brain and brilliance of a child? Good habits and discipline? Independency, social behaviour? In the first place, what parenting goals can parents fix for themselves? Will you have an answer if I ask you, what results do you anticipate to see in your child led by your parenting?
Practically, this is not an answerable question.
So, if I have to understand what I am passing on to my children, I can only try to understand what is within me, to begin with. And that’s how I saw certain sub-conscious behaviour which I wish my children wouldn’t learn from me. However, if I assume I can be good at hiding what’s within me and project to my children those things that I desire them to pick up, I would be utterly wrong.
Children see and hear beyond what we think they see and hear. All that we think, that we don’t speak aloud, that we do silently – we pass on, as well, to our children.
And that is why, in several ways, I try to unlearn what has been registered in me from eons ago, in order to relearn what I would want my children to learn from me. I know, it isn’t as simple as this sentence! It is a continuous process of observing my priorities and values, match them with the requirements of the family, and keep unlearning and relearning. I do it at times, in some ways, if not with everything and at all times.
And that is how I understand that parenting requires sculpting myself to a better person day after day (well, the ‘better’ that is to me again). And that is what makes me confident in becoming transparent, so that my children can see through me and I can appear good on the mirrors they carry.
I don’t know why I had to write this today. I don’t consider myself as a parenting expert. I am only four years young as a parent and there’s much I will have to learn and grow as a parent. Just that I like writing the simple, little realizations of my everyday life. Would you like to share the little realizations from your parenting journey? Please do, in the comments below.
Background Image Courtesy: Hongkonqueror