“You Shall Not Express Excessive Appreciation” And 9 Other Commandments Of Parenthood

Posted: August 26, 2019

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Parenting isn’t easy, needs to be customised to every parent-child, and yet there are some guidelines (shared in a tongue-in-cheek manner) that make it easier to navigate.

“Mother knows the best” – SAID NO MOTHER EVER.

Believe me. Because every woman who is also a mother knows how completely fictitious this statement is.

We Indians are a generous lot. We worship our mother and equate her with the Goddess. Of course, there are exceptional mothers who have achieved unbelievable feats in their journeys of motherhood. But if you can scan the brain of a simple, ordinary mother next door trying to fit in all her responsibilities in the limited 24 hours she has, you will find an imperfect, unsure woman full of her own flaws and confusions. While she might claim to enjoy the few moments of glory falling in her lap, she will be always worrying about everything – the food, the future, the school exams and results and what not.

My daughter is just four and a half years old. However, the moments when I have been utterly frustrated and broken down are far more since her birth than I can remember for my whole life before that. And as she grows older, I feel the moments and reasons keep on growing with no fixed solution.

Every child is unique and every mother’s journey is unique as well. Nevertheless, there have to be certain guidelines to travel through these unknown territories, which can provide temporary respite until one finds a reliable road.

So here, I am listing 10 commandments of motherhood for those women who, like me, are full of doubts and questions but are yet all rearing to march ahead.

You shall have no other God before your child

Some might think this as an overstatement. But trust me, it is not. When you are with the child, the child demands complete attention and involvement in whatever he is doing – be it the stupidest thing on the earth.

It is similar to praying to God – with complete concentration and surrender. Even if your house is on fire, you are first supposed to complete the “Nth” round of hide and seek before you run for help.

Jokes apart, it is actually extremely important for your child’s emotional well-being that you are completely tuned in to his needs. So next time when you are talking to your child – just do that. No phone calls, no cooking, nothing!

You shall not make yourselves an ideal

I guess you already know this – you are doomed if you try to make yourself the perfect/ideal parent who knows everything, can provide anything and can solve any problem.

There are countless couples who have first made themselves to be the ideal parent pairs and then became miserable while living up to that image.

Giving your child an unreal picture is the worst kind of parenting one can resort to. It not just creates a false sense of perfection in the child but also confuses him once that image is broken. The point is to be real, human, accessible and honest.

You shall not misuse your authority

So next time you try to make him listen to you by using your authority – stop. Children today are very smart and would not listen to you only because you are a parent/ adult/ elder/ senior. Authority can work only if its accompanied by logic. It should be earned and not forced.

In my and many of my friends’ experience, children tend to behave better if parent give them the proper logic behind why they have to behave in a particular way. There is always an easy language or a way or a method to explain to children as per their age. So as much as possible, refrain from misusing your authority. Instead, use your mind and some patience.

Remember the holidays and truly make them one

Honestly! How many of us actually keep holidays as holidays and not make them as house cleaning/ grocery shopping/ laundry/ gardening and any other ‘ghar ka kaam’ days? I guess very few.

One of the biggest challenge of the millennial parents is to find enough time to spend with the children. Even if parents are forgiven for squeezing 100 tasks in a working day, they should be kept aside during the weekends.

When you spend time with your child, please get completely involved. Look into his eyes while talking. Enjoy playing the dollhouse and the hide and seek even if you are bored to death. Show interest and curiosity in his blabbering. Ask questions. Talk. This is the least you can do. And you will be surprised to experience the positive changes even one hour of intense playing can bring in for the child. And you as well.

Honour your father and your mother

Your parents and the child’s grandparents form the fundamental family structure. And the child is observing every minute detail of how you treat the old people in your family.

Save yourself from awkward questions, which the child will ask if you do not give your parents the respect and care they deserve so rightly. The easiest and the most reliable way to teach your child kindness, compassion and respect is to treat his grandparents well. And then, reap the beautiful results in your old age.

You shall not shout or use bad words

This should come as an obvious trait. I have never used bad words in front of my girl. But I have to admit, I fail miserably in achieving the first part.

There are numerous occasions when I lose my cool. I shout and try to subdue my girl. But every single time, instead of getting scared, she starts howling in a bigger voice than mine. On some of those rare occasions when I am able to control my anger and patiently explain her things, I have seen her respond much more positively.

We all know it; it takes a great deal of effort to master that self-control. However, its totally worth it. You have to be firm but cool and patient at the same time. This not only helps your child to regulate his emotions but also saves you a great deal of frustration. Your child will copy your behavior in the face of adversity. And you better show them how it is done the right way.

You shall not express excessive appreciation

You all love to appreciate your child, no doubt. You feel like praising him for the smallest of the achievements. It not only encourages the child but also enforces your trust in him.

But remember what our grandmothers always said – too much of sweet makes it bitter. Same way, too much of appreciation can make the child vain or self-obsessed. He might think of himself as superior and may look down upon others. In some cases, the child may even resent it if you praise someone else’s child in front of him. So it’s always a good idea to be mindful about how much you praise the child and in front of whom.

My parents never praised me in front of anyone. It was later when I grew up that I came to know of how much they appreciated me from other family members. And believe me, that felt much better – listening to your ‘tareef’ (praise) from others.

You shall not steal – or take anything without permission

This might sound weird. But remember when you picked up the small piece of mithai from the sweet shop just to taste it. Sometimes, you also casually pick up the carrot from the vegetable shop and just munch on it. Sometimes, you just go to your dad’s room and take his pen/ napkin/ book without asking, as if it belongs to you. You might have picked up your sister’s top to wear even without bothering to ask her.

Yes, I know your sis loves you and she doesn’t mind. But did you think what your child will think? He thinks that it’s ok to pick up/ take things which don’t belong to him without asking. Chalta hai.

Especially small children are extremely observant when it comes to such behaviors. And even if you as an adult know when to draw a line, it is extremely necessary to ask every single time before taking anything from anywhere when your child is with you. Children learn more by observing than by listening

You shall not speak lies

This by far can be termed as the most important aspect of raising children.

Truth and Honesty make the crux of your child’s personality. You together with your partner should make a conscious effort to inculcate this as early as possible. So when you next time you call your boss to tell him that you are not feeling well and can’t come to office when you are in fact enjoying your coffee and binge watching Netflix – beware! Your child is watching.

When you tell your child that you are taking him to a park but you are in fact taking him to the doctor, stop! Let the child cry and throw a tantrum. But tell him the truth. Similarly, when the child casually tells you that he has finished his meal when actually he has not, it’s the right time to punish/reprimand. Tell the child that it’s ok to not finish his meal if he is not hungry. But tell him with equal seriousness that it is absolutely not ok to lie.

I personally learnt a lesson myself the hard way. A couple of times I told my daughter that I will come home early from office just to comfort her. But I came at my normal time. The next time when I was really planning to come early and told her the same – she shrugged and said “you always say that but don’t come”. It hurt me very badly and strongly. After that I never gave her false hopes and never lied. I make sure that I tell her the reality even if it is hard to accept.

You should not let him covet things which are out of league

Every parent today is telling his child to dream high, dream big. And this last commandment might be considered against the current tide. However, there is a whole lot of difference between just having a dream and having an achievable dream.

Even when it comes to huge corporate houses, their every move and expansion plan is very well calculated, planned, and realistic, which gives it the best possibility to succeed. So for parents – please go ahead and encourage your child to have a dream, but also make sure that you properly research, validate, check, and plan the process so that the child can make the optimal use of the resources you have, and also does not get heart-broken that his parents can’t provide for his dreams.

For example, it is great if your child has a dream to study in IIT. But for you, first be honest and understand if your child really has the required skill and rigor. Second, make sure you work towards fulfilling that dream from very early on – at least 3-4 years in advance. And finally, make sure you explain to him that IIT is not the only option. An education in other reputed colleges can also give the child as much as an IIT. After all, when they say prepare for the best and be prepared for the worse, it shows years of experience and wisdom.

Phew!

Well this is just the tip of the ice berg and there can be many more commandments to raise a happy, honest and sincere child. However, as I said, this is a guideline and can be interpreted according to one’s needs.

Author’s note: I have put these down as commandments for motherhood from my experience, but we could call these commandments for parenthood too, as dads need to be hands on parents in today’s world.

Image source: shutterstock

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