Let it be
Sum up parenting in two lines:
“There is no way to be a perfect parent, but a million ways to be a good one”
“So I stepped away for like two seconds…’ the beginning of a parenting horror story”
Both very real statements, both very extreme statements, and most parents begin with the first point and somewhere along the way, there are the horror stories as well.
For most people, becoming a parent for the first time is a joyful experience and the journey usually begins with stars in their eyes, cradles to be bought, swaddles to gushed over, toys to be explored, it’s a whole big Toys R Us experience out there. Dolby Atmos style. Then you know..the baby arrives… you say goodbye to your dear friends – sleep, hygiene and any ounce of sanity…
But there is the newfound love, the rush of oxytocin, and the accompanying emotional roller-coaster that you ride shotgun, caring for this tiny little bundle who is completely dependent on his sleep deprived human. Baby quickly grows into a young child, becomes a little individual, sporting his own personality, his quirks and his increasing list of demands. The roller-coaster ride continues because this is still a little child, someone who is largely dependent on you for many things, and can be a source of complete joy and stress all at once. You are still a slave to this tiny but growing individual, you still enjoy the oxytocin high when you take care of their needs, or when they call you and say “mommy/daddy help me with this”
But watch out, this little oxytocin giver can enslave you before you know it. They continue to remain a young child in your mind, someone who needs to be cared for, well past their 10th birthday even! You find yourself making their meal, reminding them to eat, doing their laundry for them, clearing up after them, making sure they have freshly ironed clothes to wear, clean shoes, combed hair, the works. Never mind that you don’t do half of this for yourself. So, if this sounds familiar, dear parent, here is a wake up call. You are trapped. But the good news? You can get out of it.
Here are some 101 rules to help you find your freedom and your identity while continuing to parent your child:
- Setting expectations, no child needs complete care after age 1. They can feed themselves, help you fix their meal (and if they are ages 4 over) they can make their own snack, eat independently, clean up after themselves, help you with the laundry, rinse vessels and put them to dry, these are just a few life skills you want to begin with.
- As a great parent, you have always considered your child an extension of yourself, physically, emotionally and in every other way. We, dear parents, are here to dispel that myth. Your child is NOT an extension of you. They have their own identity, their own personality, their own quirks, they are not you or not even like you. You might or might not share some genetic similarities but that’s about it. It’s time to start treating the child as an individual in his own right. And when do you begin this? As soon as they turn 1, if not before. You read that right, 1 and not 11. Give them choices to make, consequences to face and trust in them.
- Let’s talk about the moral science books on the child’s shelves. Things like “good habits” or “good manners”. If you burn those books, that would be great, for starters. There is NOTHING that gets our goat and I’m sure your child’s too, than being subjected to that drivel. Manners are learnt by example, habits are built step by step. Not preached. Never sermon style. Time to throw out those books, maybe?
- As a parent, you might believe that you know more than your child,
a) you have age on your side and
b) you have experience on your side and
c) you have the power of being the parent and hence you know better.
But guess what, you don’t. Nobody knows what is best, nobody knows what the risks in anything truly are. So when you find yourself at crossroads with your child, trying to influence their decision is a one way ride to nowhere. What you can try instead, is make a suggestion and like the Beatles famously said “There will be an answer…LET IT BE”. You child will find his way in this world and you would have done your bit by letting him be!
5. “When I was your age…..blah blah blah..” ever caught yourself in a conversation that began like this? Here’s how to put an end to it. You lived your life, you achieved all that you did and continue to! Kudos to you for that. Now let your child find their path. Your path is definitely not the only one and may not be the best fit for them. Remember there is no one story line that makes for a good life. Your child may choose to go your way or the highway. That’s their choice to make and your turn to cheer them (Preferably with a glass of wine)
And if all this confuses you and you find yourself at odds, go back to the time when you decided that you wanted to become a parent. Confused? Hello Existential Crises!
Dropping the Beatles soundtrack for you to let things be…