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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Parenting has no prescriptions

When Pattimandram speakers resort to preachy populist rants.

Over simplified and excessively generalized sermonizing without factoring in the overall generational changes in socio-psychologiacl attitudes is per se, in my opinion, not correct and is at best a stereotyped populist rant which may be appealing to some selected audience.

Parenting is neither an issue nor an event nor a problem but it is an ever functioning personal emotional relationship which cannot be codified through any generalization or over simplification by means of any profusion of suggestions and diffusion of emotional binding.

Parenting involves too many things with too much of involvement

Parenting is an area where any particular aspect of various degrees of manifestations of love and control [ranging from pampering to over controlling] can be emphasized at the cost of another.

Almost all parents do almost many things according to circumstances social, familial, economic etc not according to any prescription.

However, it would be a good thing to listen to others, learn from many and leverage our understanding of the multiple dimensions of this nice relationship.

Wiser parenting, in my personal opinion is involving without interfering, motivating without manipulating, allowing independent and interdependent individual growth to unleash its own melodies rather than orchestrating to our tunes.

That’s why children born to and brought up the same parents in the same way act differently, perform differently and prosper differently and clearly that reveals one can neither blame nor admire the parents for the differences.

Parent child relationship is one among the many relationships that need to be experienced and enjoyed and not used as a joy stick to control the game of life.

Impersonal Universal self [with whatever nomenclature - God, Soul, and Divinity - we want to believe in or disbelieve in it totally] which operates through each body-mind organism will take care of the appropriate harmony.

Parenting and Individual human being

Every individual human being is a package by itself with a unique physical frame, psychological perspective, inherited/injected emotions, if we believe a life force or soul or whatever we wish to call it which has to blossom and experience life in its own with all its pleasures and pains which no one else can experience but at best be spectator  willingly or unwillingly.

Unfortunately what most parents do is trying to live vicariously through their children their own aspirations or a life which they wanted but could not without realizing their children have a life of their own.

So, strictly speaking parenting after donating a sperm and leasing a womb and initially taking care of the physical well being of the Child is all about weaving meaningful and mutually respectable relationships psychologically factoring in many socio-cultural changes and the generational differences. All of these are easily said than done because the emotional bonds and the innate parental expectations will mostly cloud many things and project only our interests, intentions prompted by our notions of their [our children’s] well being.
Probably our role is restricted to inculcating humane values and attitudes based on that so that there is a socio-cultural harmony in living as a species.

PARENTING FROM VARIOUS PERSPECTIVES-  with the onus of imparting values to children.

As I see it this article throws up many issues than one from a larger perspective.

      When we become parents we notice and observe more deeply and keenly, involve in everything with greater commitment, think profoundly, turn more possessive, act carefully and more importantly become too conscious of the chronology of our life etc. In a way we grow into a new human being mostly for the better. So, in a way parenting is one of the great metamorphoses of human life.

      We teach many things to children as moral correctness and morally wrong as if they are static and everlasting axiomatic certitudes. We fail to realize that morality is mostly, and rightly so, contextual rather than a set of static rules written down by scriptures, religions, cultures, society etc.  There are no perennial taboos or trends.

     Any relationship and the most important aspect of life itself is spontaneous psychological reciprocation or reaction. Deal with children with love and they will reciprocate with love and love a universal and reusable syringe through which one can inject any good value or many nice values for life.    

     Parenting is an opportunity to enjoy life with a new relationship by making a matured and pleasant journey with a less aged and less matured person understanding, adjusting to his/her whims and fancies with all the parental concerns and pampering and also assuaging his/her  unhappy moments without preventing him/her  from realizing that unhappiness is also an inevitable part of life, do our best to minimize it by many means but at the same time not totally masking a factual situation or stark reality with our overbearing emotional or sentimental affection, sometimes at the cost of inconvenience to others.

      Parenting never stops in the mind of the parent: - initially it is an obsessive occupation with a combination of irritations and interesting things, and then it becomes a routine responsibility, slowly recedes into receptive spectator-ship but always remains a relationship working with renewed vigor at every juncture.

      All good values like kindness, humaneness, sharing and caring etc must be made to percolate through our actions and interactions with others because the first best means of learning for any child either verbal or action is through imitation and not through listening to preaching or teaching, though they can be used later on. I think practicing these values are more important than exposing children to any religion or ritual because living requires good qualities and values which contribute to good natural habits not necessarily socially accepted practices. This is both psychological process and sociological outcome as very well explained in Micromotives and Macrobehavior by THOMAS C. SCHELLING. He explains how most adults and the whole society actually make imitation into an almost a collective behavior.

“That kind of analysis explores the relation between the behavior characteristics of the individuals   who comprise some social aggregate, and the characteristics of the aggregate…. This analysis   sometimes uses what is known about individual intentions to predict the aggregates:…. People are   responding to an environment that consists of other people responding to their environment, which   consists of people responding to an environment of people's responses……. To make that   connection  we usually have to look at the system of interaction between individuals and their     environment, that is, between individuals and other individuals or between individuals and the     collectivity.”

       Very often parental expectations, enthusiasm, emotions etc coupled with social pressures, approvals and appreciations may end up parents not noticing the inherent attributes i.e. strengths and weaknesses of children and therefore not doing anything to promote or prevent them from manifesting as they ought to in natural course.

      Of course, no parent would like to promote or parade a child’s weakness; they may at best minimize or mitigate it. If it is physical attend to it medically and if it is psychological or emotional then at least one parent must spend time and communicate verbally/emotionally/psychologically etc with the child to gradually improve its attitude to minimize such weaknesses. For strengths expose the child to the opportunities that a parent can afford..

Therefore,  knowing the innate attributes and keying in the important attitudes are vital aspects of parenthood.

      Values of life are initially imitated then gradually get inculcated and remain inside the self and it is better that way rather than through indoctrination injected to keep intact any specific cultural, social or religious identity. Ultimately the values that are inherited through imitation initially manifest in or as habits in later years rather than whatever one learns through instruction. As Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina states, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. I would like to state that:- All nice parents have children with nice habits; every child with a nasty habit has a nasty parent invariably.

      As they grow into adults, of course, if personal responsibility, independence, confidence, clarity of perception etc have also been aspects of value system that as parents we have followed they would know, learn or at least struggle and strive to learn to lead a life.

So, as adults our children emerge hatched once again with capabilities to lead a life and also live a life.

Most parents are keener on equipping and therefore preoccupied with the child to lead a good life in terms of the survival aspect of life, they hardly pay attention to the living aspect of living a life happily.

Parenting involves too many things with too much of involvement. Many of which are contradictions, blatant manifestations of hypocrisy etc. Still, they all work together with too many strong ,personal , interpersonal emotions like care, concern, some amount of possessiveness, obsessive protectionism, sentimentalism, indescribable love which does not seek reciprocation, being and wanting to be physically and mentally available , wanting and willing to eagerly participate in the growth and evolution of the children etc. All of these can be realized only when one is a parent.

However, the following advice brings some sanity to otherwise too involved parenting. " When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a ‘mini me’ but a spirit throbbing with its own Signtaure"- Dr. Shefali Tsabary. This is nothing but what JK used to say as 'allowing the inward flowering'.

Parenting very often does not know to differentiate between involvement and intrusion.

All said and done life is best ensconced only in the warmth of parental love which can be taken for granted at any circumstance.

When people whose parents are no more alive think about them, fond memories cascade down the spine and fine feelings gush up the spine and both together flood the heart and choke the throat. We all need to relish with love the relationship of our parents for whatever they did or did not or could not do and as parents let us do whatever we can to our children with love,

Discipline is an inner stuff and it grows with a sense of responsibility [response-  ability] and personal experience and understanding and self realization the hard way and can never be imposed externally, at least with me it has never worked.

Above all children resort to unending unbiased unleashing of a barrage of questions, which grown up people soaked in prejudices of many meaningless traditions and rituals [which the elders /grown ups conveniently term as social values] find awkward to face. 

Children rip apart all questionable values , hypocrisy, contradictions which may cause uneasiness to conjure up a convincing answer but clears up many blocks in our inner consciousness to help us come out of our strong fortress of identities built scrupulously over so many years. 

It is no wonder that a great poet has said, ' Child is the father of the man'. But for this to happen, a sort of reciprocal benefit to both, parents must give full freedom to children and also allow them to come up with their own way of expressing and communicating with all others around. 

However, unfortunately both the family and society, wrongly and very often do not entertain this.
Some books like the following one get skipped even by many search engines on child care and parenting, it is worth reading besides the topic, merely for its excellent presentation of various aspects like a detailed text book- it is an excellent practical book which I have read twice and strongly   recommend it.
 ‘Your Growing Child: From Birth to Adolescence By David Fontana’
 and another good one is

 Parenting With Love and Logic by Foster W.   Cline, Jim Fay

Of course the following link gives a good selection