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It is only the parent child relationship that we look at through rose tinted glasses. What if we considered parenthood a relationship like any other?
If one is asked to describe parenthood what are the adjectives which come to mind?
Challenging but fulfilling. Chaotic but beautiful. Exhausting but still bliss. These are just a few of them.
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While we accept that the ride is definitely ‘like a roller coaster’ we seldom complete the sentence without following it with a ‘but’. And whatever follows the ‘but’, sweeps away all the not so positive emotions which being a parent involves.
As a generation of parents, we are definitely over involved, tending more towards obsession. We aims towards perfection for that little ‘bundle of joy’ right from the bundle stage, till he or she is not so little anymore.
Are they eating right? Are they reading good books? Are they reading enough? Are they reading too much!? Do they need more sports? Can I get him a better day care? Should she be going to a better school? Is my being at home good for my child? Is my not being at home disastrous for my child? The list is endless.
Parenthood takes us on a journey where we make our children, not co-passengers, but the engine which drives us. Whatever we do under the umbrella of being parents is never called a sacrifice, because after all the ‘bundle of joy’ is the center of our universe.
However, do we necessarily have to derive pleasure out of parenting? Can it not be treated like any other relationship of our lives? Can we describe it without the buts, as challenging, chaotic, exhausting, and heart breaking?
I might love it when my 3 year old runs around me calling out ‘mama, mama’. But I have definitely not forgotten those sleepless nights, traumatic sick days, potty training etc… And no, the joys of being a mother are definitely not on a higher pedestal than its demands. Calling a spade a spade enables the parent to remain human. It probably helps the child too.
The cozy nest of the parents’ home is difficult to leave, or sometimes even traumatic for kids right up to adulthood. The fact probably is that the world is not bad, but as parents we fail to mirror the world and its people with all their limitations.
We have fall outs with our friends, lover, spouse and probably even parents! We make a choice to not talk to them or be with them because something about them does not suit us. Ever heard of a parent denouncing his or her child? Not in the wildest imagination. Do we ever choose an adult child to be out of our lives because he or she does not suit our lifestyle? The emotional attachment is too high to be able to do that. And the attachment arises from the fact that we have spent decades of our lives, not calling spade a spade.
We have lived our lives believing that a parent-child relationship is divine and hence should be flawless, especially from the parents’ end. It is okay to treat all our relationships with human limitations but when it comes to children we need to aim towards godliness. In my view, stressing or losing ourselves out, in any relationship, is not healthy for the relationship and the individuals involved.
The choice to become parents entrusts us with the responsibility of being a provider – of love, support and guidance. Parents who have sailed through their lives with their children as partners, end up having a healthy and more open relationship with them right till the end. And by chance, even if the relationship doesn’t work out, at least they have not lost themselves completely in the process.
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You have made some absolutely solid points Rumanna. Marriage, parenting and family are overly romanticised to the point of being ” godly/divine ideals” in traditional societies and this often obscures individuals from their true potential and nasty flaws- be it spouses, parents or children. We are more afraid to admit most shortcomings in these areas, just as much as we are afraid to allow individuality to take precedence in these relationships. We earnestly try to paint anything to do with marriage, parenting and family with one “positive” brush- so that like you said we are seen to uphold the “godly or saintly or perfect ideals” of our society, culture or religion!!! The reality, in the meantime is sometimes very starkly different and even horrible !!! Pretending otherwise, causes families to never acknowledge and worse still, never address the problems that might be lurking within. For eg. domestic violence and abuse, child neglect or abuse, control and manipulation of children by parents, lack of adequate disabled/old age care or concern, marital rape etc. Its high time we stop getting carried away with the unnecessarily high and lofty ideals and instead find a fair, workable, more humane and honest path to our relationships in these areas. Like you’ve astutely pointed out – one can respect the values of the family but also respect individuality equally in its own right. This will help redefine the roles and role expectations of marriage, parenting and family to become more honest, fair and healthy and provide a healthy mechanism for redress of grievances too.
Yes Sonia I wish all thay you mentioned was true! Unfortunately it isn’t. We are so wary of shortcomings that we live our lives miserable sometimes proving that ‘all is well’!
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