Welcome September and hello to all my readers.
Today, Motherhood has brought me to a place far away from my desk top and definitely far away from my comfort zone. This only proves that parenting is a lifelong commitment. Child rearing involves nurturing that goes beyond the mere physical. Very often it requires a lot of patience, ingenuity and resources. Disciplining a child isn’t easy and many parents take the easy way out and blame it on the stars under which the child was born. But can this be so easily brushed off? And does disciplining always have to be painful?
No, says Anamika Agnihotri who points out in this guest post that awareness makes parenting easier.
Parenting can be made easy with awareness
A couple of months ago, we, accompanied by the closest of our relatives, teamed up for a family function in another city. D, my 5 year old son, had been quite excited on this outing since it was the first time he was meeting his extended family. The other main reason of his excitement was he had got a chance to travel by train for the first time in India and for the second time in 2 consecutive days.
After the function got over, all of us left for the railway station the next morning to board the train back home to Delhi. The train was late and we ended up waiting for more than 3 hours in the station’s waiting room. Now, D had his cousin H for company and together both of them, paying no heed to their mothers, were having a good enough time to themselves – running around in the waiting room, gorging on chips, junk and cold drinks endlessly. The presence of D’s both set of grandparents fuelled his audacity. I had to give up watching my repeated instructions falling flat on his ears. My peace of mind had become more important than his obedience to my cautions.
Sighting this, H’s mother, who is my cousin, enquired with me if D, like H, was also born in the ‘Moola Nakshatra’?
It took me a moment to make sense of her question.
Over the last 3 years that I have been parenting D far way from the obvious thinking processes of the well-meaning dear ones in UK and now in Bangalore, I had completely forgotten about concepts such as Moola Nakshatra . I have always considered D as a kid who is sharp, sensitive, strong-headed and fearless when it comes to questioning unjust behaviour. For me, this has meant that I have to parent him creatively and with awareness. I realised it early on that ‘Rule of the rod’, whether absolutely or figuratively, is not going to work with him. Ever since he started expressing himself with ease somewhere between the age of 3 and 4, he would come back and question me why did I yell at him or spank him at a previous occasion? The first time this happened I was taken aback for I had never done this or witnessed such a behaviour from a child towards the parent. In my times, such a conduct used to lead to admonition of the child. From the second time, I chose to handle it differently. I saw his questioning and demand for an answer as an opportunity to hold a dialogue with him, discuss with him the whys and even admit apology if I had been wrong and spanking is always wrong. I saw it as a window to improvement in myself thus increasing the awareness in me.
Setting out rules
In the last 3 years, D and I have bonded well. We are a team. If there are rules to be followed, we follow them together and we also break rules for fun because life does not have to be all serious. We bond over our reading time. We discuss kindness, compassion and gratitude. We discuss about the freedom to make our choices such as good, bad, disturbing or peaceful in various situations (even the choice of doing homework on time or not doing it at all) and the consequences of such choices. Both, husband and I, tell him stories from our childhood so that he knows he is not the only one among the 3 of us going through the myriad of confusion, frenzy and fun of childhood. He has to be given proper rationales and logical explanations about the expected behaviour or deed. Being logical with him increases the probability manifolds of having the most co-operative (outwardly appearing obedient) partner. There can never be a shortcut to rationales and logical explanations. Communication and collaboration works wonders as opposed to controlling behaviour. Not meaning to boast but we have had completely fuss free road journeys and air travels are cakewalks. Hugs are the reward for goodness in our family and also the medicine for sadness, tears and heart breaks. There is no enticement offered in the form of gadgets and TV viewing is kept to minimal.
One day he asked me if he could play the car game on my phone. I was taking a moment to assess his request and was almost ready to agree when he followed it with ‘i am bored’. The explanation given to him was if he says he wants to play the mobile game, he can be allowed to do so but if he says he wants to play it because he is bored then there are several other means to do away with the boredom – read, write, draw, paint, play with toys or ride the cycle. He wasn’t given the phone that day and there was no resistance.
Certain aspects are simply non-negotiable while with certain others which reach the verge of getting sticky or dramatic, I find it much easier to let go for the sake of peace of both our minds. This is the choice I exercise.
Don’t blame the stars!
And, such was that day in the station’s waiting room where D’s characteristics and personality was deemed to be as it was due to being born in the Moola Nakshatra and hence the conclusion such kids are difficult to deal with and to parent. I gave my answer in affirmation to the planetary positions in his birth chart because I believe this is just that – the planetary positions and should in no way limit our ability to raise our children happily and peacefully. In addition to the affirmation, I added to H’s mother and others who were listening to us it was a one off situation that day and this is not the norm with D. Off course nobody believed me and I did not intend to press upon it further.
Thank you Anamika for this insight.
How many of you blame the stars for your children’s behaviour good or bad?
Read more of Anamika’s delightful experiences with her 5 year old at The Bespectacled Mother