Tailor made – everything! Your personal fitness instructor, your personal diet plan, your personal virtual assistant, your personal music tutor and everything else under the sun is going that way too!
And what about kids? Sure, they too, wouldn’t we wish?
Even before a child is born, some of us would like to have decided his / her school and pretty much have carved out their lives, just as, we might have liked to lived ours. Whether we admit it or not, most times, our unconscious mind is busy making decisions about our child’s future Ironically, many times, our view of our child’s future is really about us and what we want.
Well, here is a math view of parenting. Each of us is a unique individual. We meet our spouse and over time, an intersection of two seemingly separate sets emerges. It is our shared values, interests, passions, etc. Out of that intersection, at some point in time, a baby is born. However, where the parenting equation falsifies itself is the place where we forget that the baby is not meant to stay in that intersection. That baby is a unique individual too. The baby, your baby, is born with some traits and over time, develops emotions, choices, preferences and styles that define him / her. How much time do we spend in getting to know this individual and how much time do we spend in directing him / her to do follow our design and to be the way we want him / her to be?
Agreed that as parents, we need to guide our children, to be there for them, teach them right for wrong. Hopefully, however, we would not be imposing our design on them and would involve them in making decisions that are likely to impact them as they grow older. We cannot have a child decide which school he / she goes to but perhaps we can enable a child to make decisions about the kind of activity he / she wants to engage in during a play date. Enabling a child to make a decision is one of the best things we can teach him / her. It is really the pencil which will allow him / her to design a life moving forward.
So how can we keep a check on ourselves and not become overbearing? Here are three handy tips:
a) Specify the outcome ‘what do you want to accomplish’?
b) Paint the big picture. ‘Why do you want to accomplish that?’
c) Stay away from the ‘How should you accomplish that?’ unless you would like to specify acceptable and unacceptable ways (not as per your standards but as per generic standards that exist in the world, like ethics, for instance).
Delegate your child’s life design to your child. Be there to guide the child and share your experiences and those of others around you. It is the toughest ask of a parent. Are you up for the challenge?
This blog post is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.