Is this an assertive statement you use when it comes to anything about your child? Or is it a question you keep asking yourself time & again?

We all want to do the best we can for our children, however we struggle at several instances to deal with day-to-day problems/ issues of our children and to help them be ready to face the world in a more  confident and assertive manner.   

Let’s observe some common situations that most parents would have faced, or are highly likely to face while raising their children:

As a mother of 4 have you ever faced the problem of your child not eating well, because he/ she is in a hurry to play or do some mischief, which you laugh at/ or enjoy initially but sooner than you realize it becomes a nightmarish thought for you to feed your child by chasing him across all corners of the house to feed him/ her.  What do you do in such a situation, do you stop feeding your child, and let him ask for food when he’s hungry….and it may happen to your dismay he/ she may not ask for it at all; or do you look for someone else to do the job for you….like his father, grandparents or any other relatives, or a nanny; seek your pediatricians’ advice as to what minimum is okay to feed: or look for ways to correct this habit of his?

Your 10 year old son does not focus at all on his studies in the school and his grades are decreasing by every test, however you know confidently that he is a smart boy and if he puts in a little effort he can significantly improve his grades. In order to motivate him to study diligently you play a reward & penalty game with him, where you promise to give him Rs. 100 for each A+ in his tests, and you observe that soon after your promise, his grades not only improve but he starts getting A+ in all his subjects, and when you fulfill your promise, he collects all the money to buy more and more beyblades to one, show off to his peers and two, to become the person with maximum number and variety of beyblades in his school. By doing this you have  realized that your child needs a driver to perform, however did you ever think that having a driver to bring out the best in oneself somewhere also makes him dependent too much on the selfish question “What’s in it for me?” and he may find it difficult to be self-driven/ self-motivated in future? Was this the objective of the game you started with him?

Your 16 year old came back at 2.00 am last night from a party he/ she had taken permission from you, however you did not expect the party to be as long, and he/ she also forget to inform you of getting late. Somehow you also learn that he/ she had also consumed alcohol. Now what do you do? Scold and shout him/ her for all the misdeeds? Sit and talk immediately, trying to make him/ her understand what he/ she did was wrong, where the child is not willing to pay any attention to the “gyan”? Stop your communication completely with him/ her for few days until he/ she comes and apologizes to you? Put an end to all the outings and parties in future?

In the above situation are we as parents clear as to what is it that has hurt us the most? Or what is it that we should focus on correcting? Or it’s the so called internet/ TV exposure that is spoiling this generation? Or simply it’s the generation gap that is responsible for loosening of the bond between teenage children and parents?

Parenting, while a natural role, needs a lot of skills and information to be more effective. This was traditionally shared by families from one generation to the next. Times have changed, sharing has changed and parenting has somehow become more complex. With the changing Indian societal norms and openness to global cultures, parents need to have to be sharper, as they are the first role models to their children.

However,  when it comes to parenting, people still are governed by the thought that "We are doing the best possible for our child" or "who knows my child's needs better than me" or " I know what I what to teach my child….and how to control them";  rather than realizing that the massive exposure to the child these days is worsening the situation where at any age the child starts trusting friends more than parents, and this can lead to complex situations which will not have one answer/ approach to deal with them, unlike it was so in times when we were children to our parents.

Monika Gupta