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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Meaningful Parenting- Do I want an obedient child? Part 2

I am no puppet
Is the aim to raise compliant children? Is obedience compliance? Disobedience in children is nothing but a natural, curious, exploring, testing, wondering, learning behavior. Or reacting – in the only way they know how – to a situation over which they have no control because they did not come into the world being wise. I doubt I would be happy to do something I didn’t want to do if the only reason I was given was ‘because I said so.' Can I not extend the same understanding to my child? If he asks me a 'why' for everything, what is so grossly wrong? Someone who is all of 2,3,4 or 5 years old or more than that and has started learning about the world and it’s ways, doesn't he deserve the right to know why he should or why he shouldn't do something? Why should he just take orders and accept them as a given? And in the process, if he disagrees with me, I will feel disappointed, maybe a little offended but I am looking at the larger picture.I am helping him to disagree, to think and to say NO.I want to teach him to stand up for himself and not to expect others to do that for him.And standing up for what you think is right is a matter of courage very few have. That 'right' can be questioned and argued but standing up is important. Learning to say NO is important.Why should I feel offended if he stands up for small things now? His ‘No’s’ do make my life miserable right now, but I do not want him to learn to say YES to everything either. It demands a lot out of me regarding patience, but it is my choice to be part of his upbringing. To add, there is difference between a lame NO coming from the age they are in( when you toddler/preschooler/kindergartner and the like says NO when you ask him to eat his food, sit in the car seat, get back home from playground, etc.) and a NO which involves the bigger picture( for example when he says NO when he is refusing to put his seat belt or doesn't listen while speeding his bike). His NO helps me open a discussion to talk and educate him why we think his NO can harm him. I still remember how my preschooler slows down when I shout - 'dangerous.' He has been explained in age appropriate way that speeding is dangerous. Am I not later going to teach him these eventually? Won't he asks me “BUT mamma...you told me…” And the art lies in doing it in polite and respectful ways. It's an art which I want to teach him right from the start in his own little ways. Talking back is a grave concern and honestly speaking this hits hard when a child talks back. It is defined as - reply defiantly or insolently. Phewww. Do I mind my child talking back? Yes, I do. Can I teach him to do it the polite way? Yes, I can. Talking back is nothing but a verbal expression of a child who doesn’t agree with what his parents say. Can he learn how to disagree without being rude? Isn’t it an art to be learned by all of us? So what if he is trying to negotiate with me on something. Isn't it what we do most of the time as adults? And above all, what is wrong in grand feeling? I have often been labeled emotional, expressive and sensitive. Big feelings are okay with me, and not something to be frustrated about. It helps me fathom the depths of my child’s emotions.

So what I am trying to achieve by this? It's simple. I am trying to raise my child just the way he would be as an adult. I am trying to teach him the same things in different ways according to his age. By asking him to comply now, how can I expect him not to comply and give in to peer pressure later? Am I teaching him to conform to what the powerful parents say? The peers turn out very powerful and influential during teenage years. Won’t he comply there to say yes to drugs or unsafe sexual practices? I am trying to teach him that it doesn't matter if someone is older, bigger, better or powerful, you always have the right to ask the questions... in school, in college, at the workplace, and in life. And why not. ‘In doubt, ask’ is what is preached. So why to discourage him now? He should know how to voice his thoughts, his feelings, his opinions. If his non-compliance, asking questions, asking uncomfortable questions is labeled disobedience and I try to enforce it with punishment, spanking, and verbal abuse, I am only setting him for failure later in life. What am I teaching him? He is a sensitive child who has grand emotions, but I am his first teacher to help him navigate through his emotions rather than label them as ...'gosh, he is sensitive.' So are all of us. It's just that the ‘WHAT”differs. What brings out the delicate side of us differs. I don't mind emotions; I don't mind sensitivity, I don't mind frustrations taken out in inappropriate ways. He didn't come out of the womb worldly wise. I am there with him. I will teach him appropriate ways to handle emotions and deal with people.
Above all, I don't want him to learn that people who are younger to him by age, people who are less powerful than him in strength, might, intellect or any other aspect, should be controlled and he can choose coercion to ensure they comply with him the way he wants. Parents have always done this because they are mightier than the tiny child who is weak and fragile. It’s great to have obedient children. It helps you a lot when you are racing through their toddler, preschool years along with the demands of your own life. It’s a blessing when you are running late for an appointment, and your child dashes straight in his car seat without question asked as to where he is going. But is that what you want once they become adults? Think for a moment- If you as a parent, out of your love for compliance and fear of disobedience, keep ignoring what your child says, do not make him and his thoughts and opinions heard, valued and respected, and make your voice 'THE RULE', I wonder what kind of obedience it is? Non-Compliance( the so-called disobedience) doesn’t compromise on manners, respect, and politeness.It’s an art to be learned by us. An obedient child to me is not a mindlessly complying ‘YES MAN.' And if he is, I am better off with a disobedient child. 
Have you known someone, near or distant who was an absolute adorable obedient child and later became a rebellious and defiant once he left the nest? Why does it happen? Adolescence is anyways fraught with these challenges where the young person no more accepts the old child identity and now wants to explore his voice, his thoughts, his newly found freedom and his space. Is it too bad extend a bit of these while we are bringing up our children so that they obey out of reasoning and love and not out of fear of rejection and punishment? Those ways, later, they will not feel the need to free themselves and soar high. They have been brought up free, and their voice has been heard then and now. 

To read Part 1 of the series- 'Do I want an obedient child?' please click on http://www.fourcloverlife.com/2017/04/meaningful-parenting-i-dont-want_8.html

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For more such articles on Meaningful Parenting, Mindful Eating, Well-being and Motivation Cuppa,  please visit Four Clover Life at  http://www.fourcloverlife.com/.

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