An environment of happiness with absolute freedom from fear and anxiety is the best gift that parents can give to their child.
All expressions of affection, care and companionship from members of the family create a sense of security, safety and belonging in the child’s mind. A child from such surroundings is certain to grow up to be a confident, well-adjusted, responsible member of the family and, in turn, the society.
I was born as the first child of my parents. There is an age difference of twelve years between my nearest cousin sister and myself. Our monthly visits to my Mother’s ancestral home were an cause for celebration for my cousins and Grandparents.
My favourite uncle “Unnimman” (Uncle Unni) has a special place in my childhood memories. He was a celebrated photographer. He used to take many photographs of the family and I appeared like an artist’s muse in most of them! Looking back, I find that my childhood days were a period of gaiety and fun for the whole family.
Many of us would have similar or even more delightful memories of our childhood – memories that glow in our hearts for ever. Childhood is the most impressionable period in a person’s life. The fundamental elements of one’s philosophy of life, value system, social behavior and aptitude for learning begin to take shape during this period.
Parents have a role and an opportunity in facilitating this formation in their child’s mind. The task of developing the right blend of self-esteem and confidence in a child is best fulfilled by a close, healthy relationship between all the members of the family.
The time we spend with our children is based on the quality of our interaction rather than the minutes we “spend” with them.
We may not be able to spend as much time as we wish with our children for reasons of work pressure. That is unavoidable but focusing on the quality of time we spend with them is within our control. Some parents have shared their concerns with me. I assure them that children would definitely understand and appreciate that we do make efforts to enjoy their company and are sensitive to their needs and happiness.
Healthy and Open Communication fosters an honest relationship despite the challenges it poses to parents.
Let me explain. A few days back, I had a mildly disconcerting conversation with my son. He pointedly told that I needed to admit when I was wrong with better grace than I did then. Surprised and somewhat irritated at the accusation (so I felt at that moment), I left his room in silence. As a parent who had always encouraged her children to feel at liberty to speak their mind, I did not expect that “liberty” to be used so directly at me. It took some time for me to realize that yes…, there could have been a more graceful reaction from my side when at fault.
Despite moments like these, never for a moment have I regretted the freedom that my children enjoy with their parents and the world. Curiosity is the forerunner of learning. It is a wonderful experience to work together with a child to discover her/his special talents and aptitudes. Nurturing them to their potential is a an enjoyable task, a fundamental responsibility of a parent. The enthusiasm of the child is compounded by the realization that the process is in partnership with parents. Their trust, more than their encouragement, motivates the child.
Children in such circumstances are likely to enjoy their creative pursuits better since the desire to improve and learn comes from within. When my children were small, I remember how much Papa (my husband’s Father) would enjoy showing them animals, teaching them to be comfortable with animals and most importantly develop a love for and interest in them. Exposing children to animals is a way for them to learn about caring for animals and our environment.
As a child, I was discouraged from ever remarking how boring it was sometimes. My father would consider it most ludicrous for me to feel bored, and would say, “Seetha, there are so many things that you can be engaged with”. It is thanks to him that I found out interests and activities that I enjoyed as a child and continue to enjoy today. Since T.V was discouraged beyond a couple of hours a day, I spent my idle hours either drawing, reading, writing, play acting, singing or listening to music. And, of course, there was always time for some mischief or the other!
Helping our children tackle boredom would not just benefit them when they are small but right through life.
Today, combating stress is even more challenging for children than before. With technology – mobile phones, internet and social media, demanding a major chunk of their time and attention, children find the art of social interaction a not-so- important subject that is tough to master. Encouraging children to be themselves and at ease while in presence of others is a serious obligation of parents. Teach them to stay away from stress caused by unhealthy competition, negative social interactions or self-imposed isolation.
Whether in the case of parenting or of achieving professional goals, life brings forth its own set of tribulations and tests. But then, what is life without challenges, efforts and of course the delightful sweet taste of success?