“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.”
In many of my articles I have touched upon the styles of parenting and the importance of good upbringing. It is said, “When you hold your baby in your arms the first time, and you think of all the things you can say and do to influence him, it's a tremendous responsibility. What you do with him can influence not only him, but everyone he meets and not for a day or a month or a year but for time and eternity.” The way a child is raised influences his entire life and marks the course of his existence. I don’t believe in the idea of ‘parenting experts’ but I do believe in the significance of values and good upbringing. Parenting isn’t just an idea; it’s a bold and daring adventure. It is a journey of shaping a life. “Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don't realize what messages they are sending. There are times as a parent when you realize that your job is not to be the parent you always imagined you'd be, the parent you always wished you had. Your job is to be the parent your child needs, given the particulars of his or her own life and nature.” I have already talked about the dangers of cocooning our children in every situation and helicopter parenting. I believe, “At every step a child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses. At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child's success is the positive involvement of parents.”
Recently, I finished a book which taught and confirmed my belief about the impact of upbringing on the children. Though the book is based on some entirely different topic but the characters mentioned made me to think more of the result of the parenting and influence of the events in the childhood. Three characters in the book have been presented right from their childhood and events thereafter. These children were raised in different environment. The boy was sandwiched between a hardworking and not very social father and ambitious and wanting to be a ‘party person’ mother. One girl was exposed to the best (rich and well-connected people) of the social gatherings in which people from most affluent background were always present. The other girl is also from affluent family of a big city in central India and her parents moved to metro for better prospects but she received good education and values from her mother and father both. One of them was instilled with the qualities of love, generosity, gratitude and compassion and the other wasn’t lucky enough to be instilled with these values; while one was raised in an environment enriched with values and discipline, the other just learnt the significance of materialistic accomplishments. Their upbringing is thereby reflected on their married lives. While the first one is able to keep her family together with love and care, the other fails to do so. She isn’t able to deal with challenges and couldn’t bring herself to guide her family out of difficult situations.
It is the early experiences that causes some people to go on to illustrious success while others languish, some people seem to defy all odds and excel, while others, despite opportunities and benefits, never seem to get off the starting block. These early experiences are nothing but childhood situations. The interactions of the children with their parents play a crucial role in shaping their lives. Children raised by parents who are consistently responsive tend to have better emotional development, social development and mental health outcomes. The parents become the key authors in the book of their child’s life. Values cannot be taught from a textbook. Real life situations are often learnt practically. Laurence Steinberg in his book, Beyond the Classroom, states and research confirms that children raised in supportive, warm, affectionate homes in which there are clear and consistently reinforced rules are less likely to engage in at-risk behaviour and are more likely to be successful.
So, it becomes important to give your child more than basic physical needs, security and education. Apart from biological needs, children also need affection from their parents. This makes them feel loved and appreciated and keeps them from feeling lonely and isolated. Always make sure that your child’s affection is reciprocated to encourage an affectionate behaviour not only towards you but towards other people. Besides, giving the child love and affection also make sure that he feels valued. This means that his worthy opinions should be praised. Your child wants to be seen and heard. When you demonstrate patience, you are also giving your child the message that he is validated. And when you lose patience, you can create stress and frustration for your child. Also, encourage your child’s interests from an early age. Being a good parent means you need to teach your child the moral in what is right and what is wrong. Setting limits and being consistent are the keys to good discipline. Be kind and firm when enforcing those rules. Focus on the reason behind the child’s behaviour. And make it an opportunity to learn for the future, rather than to punish for the past. Loving a child doesn't mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult.
Finally, and most importantly, “Children are educated by what the grown-up around is and not by his talk.” The motto ‘do as I say and not as I do’ does not apply to parenting. It is important to practice what you preach if you want your kids to develop good behaviour and manners. If your child sees you being respectful to others, your child will follow suit and do the same thing. It is also important to be respectful when it comes to dealing with your child. Showing respect goes both ways even between parent and child and no matter how huge the age difference is. If you treat your child, and others, with respect, your child will also grow up to be a respectful person.
We are living in the age and time of AI (Artificial Intelligence). Its usage and involvement in our lives is inevitable. Children are getting used to ordering ‘Siri’ or ‘Alexa’ without using the basic terms of courteousness like, ‘please and thank you’. Therefore, it has become all the more important for the parents to spend time with the kids to instill moral values in them because at the end of the day, “The relation between parents and children is essentially based on teaching.”
In the end I would like to advise parents that they welcome the newly born in the family and realize that they have tremendous responsibility to bring up the child in such a manner that she/he is future of so many people around her/him and not only the support for them in their old age.