Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about but the hardest thing in the world to do. ~ Matt Walsh
Better Parenting … a very serious topic indeed and does involve a deep level of understanding when it comes to developing this life skill …
Well! I am not a parent … and this is NOT a parenting guide as I am definitely not an authority to write about how children need to be brought up.
However, I too was a child once like any of you and have grown up experiencing life first-hand and whatever follows is just a collection of experiences, thoughts and opinions from my perspective.
Recently, I went to Keremane Homestay which is located near Shringeri in South India. Apart from getting to see marvellous places around that homestay and the temple town, we got to see what being natural actually meant. Yes … the family which is running the homestay is following it to the letter. What I observed further was the upbringing of a little child in the lap of nature.
Hard work, cleanliness, passion, a habit of not wasting natural resources – yes … recycling was done on a regular basis, being very organised at work and a very positive environment – these were some of the qualities and attitude I did get to see and obviously the ones a child growing up in that environment would naturally pick up!
Now, compare this to your own homes. Forget about a homestay! Nowadays, parents staying at home itself is a seemingly impossible factor – thanks to the hyper-hectic lifestyle which is being followed day in and day out! Hence, this makes parenting naturally tougher because the issue lies more in “finding time” for children – right from toddlers to the ones who are about to become independent – financially and emotionally.
Now, let’s delve a little deeper into the topic … Below are 4 Core Areas which you could possibly work on to make your own parenting a better and more meaningful experience.
The WHY Factor
In India, there are basically 2 eras from what I have observed. No … it is not the pre-Independence and post-Independence one. I am not getting into any of those. My observation is very simple. The 2 eras are
· The era in which people knew exactly what they were doing and why
· The era which witnessed a gap in the understanding of the WHY factor
I belong to the second group – a phase which witnessed huge technological progress, a major cultural shift but also lost out very much on core learnings required to lead a healthy and happy lifestyle. Where did we actually miss out?
Our older generations were comparatively at peace and led a fulfilling life. They did not suffer from so-called life-style related diseases. They were emotionally more grounded too. Inspite of having living examples, why did we still not take them into consideration?
The answer could possibly lie in the gap between the way it was conveyed to us and how we inturn interpreted them.
Take the simple example of Cooking. I tried my hand at cooking for the first time when I was in Class 6 ie when I was assisting my mom. She had a brilliant way of making me learn this life-skill. Trust me! She never said “You must learn how to cook!” She just made me learn it by slowly involving me in the process step by step till I came to a point where I could manage entirely on my own. She could have conducted a crash course later on but she din’t. The result of this? I developed a liking for cooking and hence it is more of a stress-buster for me. My dad is an amazing cook too and he introduced me to the creative side of cooking. This made me admire the skill even more.
Trust me! If they had made me learn this skill by making statements like “You are a girl! You must learn how to cook!”, “People will expect you to know this skill when you get married!” and so on … I wouldn’t have entered the kitchen! What I was actually made to understand over the years was that it is a skill required in our daily lives. It helps us avoid depending on others and also on outside food which is unhealthy in the long run. Cooking and serving good food is a way of conveying that you care for your family. It actually reflects your attitude too.
This is just one simple example. I am sure you will have a lot more of them too. Just reflect on how you were taught and how you interpreted certain life skills. Is there a gap between what was actually conveyed and what was understood? The approach creates a world of difference!
The bigger challenge is how do you convey it to your next generation? Helping them experience it first-hand and making them understand is the best way possible!
The HOW Factor
Among my own inner circle – near and dear ones – one of them USED to play the Veena during her younger days. Well … I never got to see the Veena!
One of them is an amazing mimicry artist, has a beautiful voice and a secret passion for Drama. But, he has kept it aside with the excuse of old age!
One other person is actually a very skilful artist but where is that artist now? Not to be found …
If you look for similar examples, I am sure you will find more of these in your own homes.
Where did all the energy, enthusiasm and talent go? Out of the window? If you yourself paint a dismal picture of work-home-work-home loaded with stress, what else will your kids who are watching you from such close quarters pick up?
Just imagining repainting the canvas inspite of your hectic schedule – working with a strong purpose, pursuing a hobby, spending time for exercise with family, helping each other learn something new and so on. How energized the environment itself would be! Your child will be able to grasp the importance of a balanced life before even understanding the literal meaning of it. Now, that’s experiential learning and what better way is there than setting an example yourself?
The Generation Gap
1 packet Kumkum … 1 packet Turmeric … 1 bottle Vinegar … 1 packet Baking Soda … “Istu kodappa … Yestu aaytu heli …” (Give all of these. Tell me … How much does it cost?)
My maternal grand-mother asked the shopkeeper in JP Nagar around 29 years ago. She did not buy these things for herself, but for me and my cousin brother.
All the three of us conducted an experiment to create a mini-volcano at home. We did it and watched the lava flowing out of the volcano. We were delighted! My grand-mother had not studied much like most people in her generation. An early marriage followed a few years later and studies flew out of her life’s window. But, there she was … several years later … teaching and helping her grandchildren create a mini volcano at home!
My grandmother died several years ago but what is left in my mind is a vivid picture of “passion and dreams” personified. She did live that life through her children and grandchildren.
Now, why am I giving this example? Many a time, we do forget to learn basic life lessons in a bid to learn something more advanced. Yes … people especially in our generation are armed with sufficient knowledge at their finger-tips and the generation after that … words cannot express their intelligence level! However, remember one point … there is no generation gap when it comes to picking up life lessons. You can learn from anyone who is actually living it. Never make the mistake of assuming that you cannot learn from the previous generations. Again, your next generation will be picking up points from your own actions and approach. So, the trick is to make them understand it’s importance and that lies in your own actions!
The Time Factor
Now, this is the seemingly impossible factor when it comes to parenting. Not being able to spend enough quality time … It’s quite understandable too! However, this factor when ignored will have costly consequences later on. Also, more often than not you will not be able to make up for it. So, how do you go about it?
You cannot stretch each day you have in hand beyond 24 hours. However, you can cut down heavily on unnecessary wastage of time. For this to happen, you need to work on yourself – your commitments, your time boundaries, confusions, clarity level, enriching your health factor, your emotional strength and more.
Now, you might ask “How on earth are all these related to making time for our children?” Well … they do! Few of them may help you directly while the others may do so indirectly.
Eg : A confused state of mind leads to more consumption of the time in hand as you tend to get into a loop in your mind. This loop could last for hours, days or even months depending on the issue which is causing you the confusion. That much energy gets drained from you on a regular basis. It indirectly affects your health too. So, more time will be required for recovery. By then, you would have lost track of progress to some extent. This leads to additional stress and thereby, your emotional health takes a beating … the cycle could go on and manifest into anything else!
This is just one example. I am sure you can relate to similar experiences in your own life. To find precious time for your children, you need to work on yourself first!
Many clients have come to us in the past stating that their child had a problem – he/she is not very active, focused, throws tantrums and so on. When we dug into the root cause, we got to find out that it was more due to the kind of parenting they were exposed to! Their parents did not have time for them! So, the issue lied in them not spending quality time due to their own lifestyle, personal baggage they were holding on to and not in their children!
Finding time is a challenge of varying magnitude for each set of parents. So, do not go by a blanket solution. Also, the time you need to spend for your children could vary too. Focus on that!
Work On Yourself So That You Are Strong Enough To Work On Them!
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Have An Amazing Time Ahead!
Authored By Sushma Krishnan
Co-Founder, High Performance Alchemy