I read following two snippets way back in 1969 or 1970 and if my memory does not fail me it was in Readers’ Digest.
A young boy of 3 years or so was asked his name by someone and he replied, “ Jimmy No.”. It was explained that his parents always kept telling him “Jimmy No” whenever he did something they did not want. So he took No as part of his name.
A young man walking on the beach saw a girl of about 2 years playing very close to the sea running towards the waves and running back when waves touched her legs. Her mother was sitting few yards away watching her daughter intently. He asked her as to why does she not stop the girl from going towards sea as it was dangerous but the mother did not respond and kept looking at the girl without shifting her gaze. Suddenly mother sprang up rushing towards the girl who had almost got swept away by strong wave and brought her out of water. On reaching the man she said, “ If I had stopped her from playing the way she was, she would do so when she is alone and not being watched. Now she knows the danger and so she herself would be careful in future.”
These left a lasting impression on my mind.
A year or so later I heard a young girl of about 8 years telling a lady, “ Go ahead and tell my mother. What will she do, give me few slaps, so what?”. This seemed to be a retort to the lady threatening her that she would report her misdeed to her mother. What struck me was the defiant attitude of that young girl.
These made me think about how children should be treated in their formative years by parents. Relationship between parents and a child is very important at that stage for overall development of the child into a responsible adult. And subsequently too bond between parents and grown up children is of utmost importance to ensure all round happiness of a family. There are umpteen number of books written by specialists but what I am going to say is the basic principles which have been of help to us in our years of bringing up children and as such I am sharing it with you all.
First and foremost we need to keep in mind that a young child is innocent, curious and interprets things as per his or her exposure. So when we speak to child about anything we need to get down to his or her age and understand their point of view or way of looking at things. For safety of toddler we need to keep things which may be harmful for the child out of reach. We had put dummy plugs in all reachable power point not in use and removed all items from dressing table locking those up in the drawers instead of saying NO every time they reached for it.
Never should we discourage a child from asking questions even if those seem silly to us as in his or her mind those are curiosities. We need to address all questions with reasonable explanations understandable by child and if it is something which is not appropriate for that age we should divert attention of child. There are so many ways to do so instead of saying NO or this is not for you leaving the child wondering about unanswered question and trying to find answer from other sources.
As the child grows we need to change our approach too but never in dictatorial way. During school days never put child under pressure to perform as per our satisfaction. Child should be made to understand that it is for his or her good to learn attentively and understand the subject instead of just memorizing it blindly. Encouragement should be given for participation in sports and extra curricle activities. They should be made to understand time management without being ordered to study or do this or do that all the time. Let the child choose own profession. We need to explain pros and cons of each and let the decision be made by the child.
Now comes the difficult phase, pre-teen, teenage and college life. In this phase there is not only curiosity of new pastures or trying to explore new ways of freedom but rebellion too to move away from it is done this way approach of elders. It is not possible to be with them 24 hours of the day. We need to understand that time has come to treat them as friends, of course within limits and make them understand their responsibilities. We need to encourage them to share their feelings and thoughts. I had told our daughter when she joined college “ Now you are moving from uniformed regulated life to different way of life with time at your disposal. Do what your conscience permits you but just understand that whatever you do should not make us hang our heads in shame ever. There may be times when you may feel you have to do something against your wishes or conscience, so just take precautions not to get into that kind of situation.” I am proud to say that she behaved in a very sensible way without any monitoring. And to our son at his entry to college apart from what I told his sister I added “ Never force a girl for anything she does not want to do or never physically or emotionally coerce her to do what she is not willing to.” Again I am happy that he never let us down.
Then comes the marriage time. We should give full liberty to them to choose their soul mate. They should be made to feel confident to share their liking with us. If it is seen that the one chosen lacks something, it should be logically discussed and not forced for change of option. Our children had their own friendships but when time came they both left it to us to look for their would be life partners. But I insisted that they would have to meet our selected one, spending enough time without being chaperoned to make up their mind. I also told our son that the girl he so meets has full right to say no. Well, they are both now settled with children though with normal tiffs off and on. They have to solve their differences themselves with our unbiased support to one who is justified.
Thereafter they should be left to lead life as they want without interference but support as needed. Of course it does not mean that they can do something criminal or unacceptable in normal society for which once again we can only advise or guide logically but can not force our will. In such an event if he or she still continues to follow which is unacceptable, it is time to part company.
That sums up what we have gone through in our time. Now it is grandchildren who make us relive our olden days all over again.