Saturday, April 21, 2012

Parent’s instruction manual

Parent’s instruction manual

My new I phone came in a beautiful box all nicely packed with all the accessories and the user guide. It’s working well and once in a while when I have trouble figuring out something I immediately Google and learn how to fix the bug.

Sadly there is no user guide or instruction manual for raising children. Although there are quite a few web sites and books teaching us how to raise happy children, I doubt many of us follow their advice. We mostly seek answers from our friends or peers.

Yesterday at lunch one of the mothers I met almost cried when she shared her inability to make her children conform to peer expectation. She said that she spends all her time driving her children from one activity to another and yet her children don’t excel at anything. She went on to share that her friend’s children are over achievers and she feels so let down and then feels guilty for not having her best and blames herself for not being a good mother.

How many of us feel that we are not doing the best for our children? Every time a group of mothers meet, the conversation invariably veers towards children and how to discipline them and yet keep them happy.

This particular mother feels pressured because she is comparing her children with the children of her friends who seem to be excelling at sports and at school. When I asked her why she was comparing her answer was, “ well we are in the same circle and have similar backgrounds and the children go to the same school and do the same activities, then why are my children not up to speed?”

Children are not I-phones. No one person is like another, in-fact nothing in nature conforms to any kind of regularity. No snowflake is like another, no leaf is like another and yet we want our children to be like some-one else’s children. Children are not factory made unless we bring upon ourselves to have genetically engineered children who will be perfect in all aspects……. but till such time lets allow our children to be individuals who were born for their own unique purpose and divine path. Lets respect that and allow each flower to bloom as naturally as possible instead of pruning it down right from the start.

This reminds me of a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

Allow your children to be who they are. Allow them to develop their personalities. Allow them to explore new frontiers and allow them to find themselves. As parents, our role should be to be there for them as guides and mentors and not whip cracking, comparison-shopping Neanderthals.

I too have been guilty of comparing my daughter with other children. I remember one day I came back home very distraught as I found out that some of my friends children had started reading at the age of three and my daughter was not even close at age five. Today however she has read almost eight hundred books and I have to snatch the books away from her while she is eating or bathing. Luckily I did not panic much and allowed her to develop at her own pace and now she is doing great.

None of us are perfect but we are all trying. Parenting is a wonderful opportunity for us to experience and share love and compassion. Instead of always complaining and looking at yourself coming short in your own eyes, show yourself some compassion and extend the same compassion towards your children and allow them to become who they were meant to be.

Life is meant to be happy and full of joy. Allow it to be so.

Much love and happiness

Shveitta Sethi Sharma