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Showing posts with label The Mom's Corner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Mom's Corner. Show all posts

Friday, 10 May 2019

But why FUSS over motherhood?

My mother never thumped her chest for all that she did. I don't want chest thumping either. 





My bad, I don't get this.

Platonic, joyous, blessed and much more. When it comes to motherhood, the more the adjectives the better. Unconditionally loving, unconditionally caring till her last breath and even after I guess, the more such attributes for a MOTHER, the better.

Mother’s Day to everyday celebrating motherhood, the world is lapping up every opportunity to say - MOMS ARE THE BEST.

Well, they are. So?

What's the glorification about? Our moms (baby boomers or early generation X) had 2-3 children, some even 4 for some blessed ones. They conceived, delivered, breastfed, cooked, cared, washed, cleaned, organized, cooked again, cleaned again and go to sleep tired and exhausted only to wake up at 5 am or 6 am again and start the grind. They too had dreams, few were career woman’s and many were Stay at home but never brooding, complaining or depressing, exalting, aggrandizing and thumping over their SAHM (stay at home mom) status or WM(working mom) status really. They were patient with us and our fathers J, accepting and content. This was, by and large, the landscape.

Did she glorify herself or did we put her on a pedestal just to show that she is next to God or God herself? NO.

We are a lot more complicated.


We write on ‘guilt of a normal delivery’ to ‘beauty of a C- section’ and vice versa. We write further on self-actualization in breastfeeding and liberation in formula feeding and vice versa. We write some more on the importance of staying back at home and the selfishness portrayed by working moms and vice versa. We are talking about every possible, minutest, particle like details of motherhood and making it BIG. Many times too big and burdensome. Why? Because we are not just literate, we are educated too and we have discovered our voice and platforms to make everyone hear. Nothing wrong in that. Truly. Just that it’s all adding up to the madness. The fuss is being blown out of proportion and its spirally into a pressure which our mothers didn’t feel. We feel the weight of it. We feel the need to show what handmade gifts we gave to the men on Father's day. Don't we?


I wonder what is in us - the millennial's who fuss over every bit of motherhood and make it look, sound and portray so heavenly? I was having a conversation with few moms(courtesy my coaching sessions) and the most overarching emotion was  - 'I am a mom and I don’t need anything else', 'Motherhood is dramatically beautiful and what more can one ask for' and it went on and on along the same lines in the same tone, every word uttered with pride and a sense of sacrifice. They sounded as if they have reached some eternally blissful space of life from where they can attain some nirvana. Phewww. And the world fusses so much around them that it quite nearly magnifies the human being to a superpower. Well, she is a superpower or maybe not.

The concern is that with all these labels comes the BURDEN of being this supremely perfect mom and getting an A+ rating. No, you don't think so?

Let's check this out?

Have you sat endlessly trying to do art and craft with your child even though you would have wanted to snooze or watch TV?

Are you on WhatsApp group of moms(your child's school) and get anxious over every bit of information that pings in and you rush to get it done?

Have you often found yourself ruminating over whether you are doing your best and if that best is actually the best compared to other bests?

Did you get that mother-child same to same dress for that mother’s day function at the school?

Innumerable examples in everyday life which were nonexistent when our moms were raising us. Do I say not to wear the matching dress for the school function? Wear if you like, we just need to stop feeling apologetic if we did not follow the trend.

I became a mom out of my own choice and interest and I am raising my child for my own self. There is no sacrifice whatsoever. If I give up my career to take care of the child, I am doing no big sacrifice. I am just prioritizing my different ME’s and their needs. The mother in me wants to be taken care of first then the career woman in me. It's that simple. I am no big deal. I do not need this constant attention or affirmation about my exalted status of being a mom. Neither do I want people around me to fuss over everything I do. I don’t want to make a STATEMENT for every regular act of mine. You don't make it too. The tag, the label and the responsibilities that come with it are abundantly beautiful and sadly depleting at the same time. It’s not a perfect and a happy ride for me. And it's okay because life is like that. My mom went about her life unassumingly, without any fuss over her being a MOM. I want to live placid too without the burden of being the best mom, who wakes up at 5 am, cooks, cleans, gets her kids ready, recites her prayers, drops her kids to school , goes to work, comes back, take the kids to Kumon, then to art class,  make the kids do their homework, cook again , clean again, organize again, plan for the next day, bathe the kids, make them pray and tuck them to sleep and go back to the kitchen again to wrap things until the clock strikes 12 pm.

I am doing this. And my mom also did a pretty neat job. The difference is - I feel being pushed many times, I feel the burden of the label and I feel the judgments will kill me if I didn’t live up to the label. My mom I guess was much liberated.

A week back I was talking to a 70-year-old woman (mom of a close friend) who has come to help her daughter-in-law for her second delivery. She looked, talked, behaved comfortable and content. A simple lady from a small town in Uttar Pradesh intrigued me and I asked her  the eternal question- ‘Aap khush hain?’ (Are you happy?)

She looks at me, gives a beautiful smile and says- ‘मैं खुश क्यों नहीं होंगी ?ईश्वर ने मुझे अच्छा पति दिया, अच्छे बच्चे दिए , सबने अच्छी पढाई की और सब आज अपनी ज़िन्दगी जी रहे हैं। अंकल आज भी जब निकलते हैं तो लोह उनकी पर्सनालिटी देखते रह जाते हैं. हमें और क्या चाहिए?ईश्वर ने सब कुछ दिया.बच्चों के लिए ही तो माँ बाप जीते हैं.' ( Why shouldn't I be happy? God gave me a wonderful husband and lovely children. All of them studied well and are happily settled in their life. Even today when my husband goes out, people look at him and his personality in awe. God gave m everything. We live for our children.)

She doesn’t know what mother's day is nor does she knows how heavenly she is because she delivered 4 children,  breastfed them nonstop till they were 3, cooked and cleaned for them and pretty much lived for them. She slipped in her duties many times but it wasn't a death sentence for her. She did not fuss over meaningful parenting, mindful parenting, positive parenting, gentle parenting, nutrition, and health, art, and craft, swimming, and piano learning toys, educational toys, problem-solving toys, analytical toys, motor skill developing toys and the like. She just cared and did what was possible with her limited resources and her understanding. Guess she didn't think as much as we do. We have awareness, income, and understanding like never before but we are shackled because we don't know where to draw the line. By today's standards, she might be lacking ambition and dynamism. But at 70 she is truly happy without fussing over her MOTHERHOOD really.

To those who do not relate to this fussing- Congratulations. You are flying free. 






Saturday, 20 April 2019

My son, his Spermarche and his Sexuality.




If a parent is trying to protect, care and educate a girl child on her sexuality, it is equally important to do the same with the boy child for it takes 'TWO TO TANGO' and you never know whose responsible behavior will actually save parents from these problems.




Giving attention to your boy child is equally important if not more. If we made our boy child responsible adults, we ensure that the girls don’t need to move around with fear.

Don't say then- I will not understand. I do, because I have a son and he is not a bull. 

Click the link Mompresso to read the full article.



Image courtesy-Pixabay

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

HOMECOMING

"Whenever you feel 'fear' and I mean it from my heart and soul...Do what you are afraid to do because overcoming what frightens you the most ...strengthens you the most."

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear- Nelson Madela"

Click on Homecoming to read the full article.

Image courtesy-Pixabay.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Dear SOLDIER,


Tell me something? What were you thinking when you decided to stand at the LOC? You knew what was coming your way? Right? Your family knew what this job entails? Why didn't you choose a safer and secure option? Why? There are umpteen IIM's and IIT's around, Artificial Intelligence is on the boom, Robots are transforming life and look at you. Who goes for work on 14th February when Cupid Cuties are on the roll and hearts are going a flutter? 
Click on Dear SOLDIER, How did you Valentine Day go? to read the full story.

Image courtesy-Pixabay.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

One 'Sobremesa a day' - There is nothing great about a family meal except



Except that in a culture of 'INSTANT' and 'DISTRACTION', one family meal is where


One disconnects to connect. A frenzied screen life(that's how I define our regular life today) finds some time to stop by and look beyond the screen.

Google university is replaced by life's important lessons shared via experience.


A meal is appreciated. They say eating is a necessity but cooking is an art. And the person who cooks for the family blends labour and love with art to present the plate that comes before you. How can one not appreciate and feel grateful? And food definitely tastes better when you eat it with your family.


And nutrition blends with togetherness to provide a complete experience to the body.Nutrition is not only about eating right and eating healthy. If the food on the plate does not have a sense of emotion to it, the nutritious meal can hardly matter. The emotions come from family.The emotions of sharing, bonding and connecting with each other. A connectivity which no telecom service or internet service can provide.
A personal story


'My father loved family meals. I do not know why and how he found this habit so essential. Morning breakfast use to be a rush, we didn't meet him for lunch., so all we had was a family dinner. He loved talking and was vocal about his emotions. He talked about everything, how his day at work was, the conversations he had with his colleagues and managers, his working style, work ethics, problems encountered and also his appraisals. He hid less and expressed more. Mum would contribute to his talks and also narrate about her day, some relevant and some irrelevant talks about neighbors and some relative phone calls, the maid servant and her school. And we would add our little tit bits of broken crayons and a pencil a friend had which glowed in dark.


That was one place, one time and one atmosphere in a day where we connected with each other not only through common food on the plate but through a unifying emotion of belonging to each other. I still remember how I kept thinking about my father's  poor appraisal rating and how worried he was. I didn't know about appraisals then, I was all of maybe 12 or 13 but I was with him in my own little way. When I lost the elocution contest, he was there with me in his own little way. My elder brother was with me in his own little way when I had my Maths exam next day. That is what family meals were about- STORIES. These stories were shared every day. Stories of hard work and success, stories of neighbors and relatives, stories of failures and disappointments. Stories which held us together, stories which reverberated within us long after dinner was over and we retired to our rooms. Regular life stories shared on a dining table over a simple or an exotic meal. Not every story was beautiful. Many times the dining table has been witness to silent family meals interrupted by a clatter of a serving spoon or somebody asking for a second serving. Even in that silence, stories were heard. But as they say, every story had a lesson and I learnt the most important lessons of my life on the dining table. Not to forget that these stories shaped my thoughts about my career and I owe a lot to the dining table for what I am today.


Today when I see my 4-year-old sharing his little tit bit and my husband getting distracted by this tiny gadget in his hand, I wonder whether I would be able to carry on the tradition which my father started. I fail to understand the power, the potential and the omnipresence of a tiny screen in life which is ready to put an end to what I consider a priority of every family. As I give a stern look to my husband, he hastily shoves the device and asks my son ‘So, what were you saying?’ My son replies, ‘I told my Kaushik that my father can fix anything in this world. He is the best.’

As I keep away the dirty dishes, I find myself fighting a battle in my mind. My biggest enemy today is that tiny gadget, a small screen pinging incessantly and the world ready to gratify me instantly. I am Applefied, I am Facebooked, I am Amazoned. Will I learn to live again or is this the new life? I sleep with this battle, checking the FB messages that came while I was cooking, putting an alarm on my phone to wake me up and placing an order for a Lego blocks on Amazon.


Sobremesa

It's what you do in Spain after a meal, but is there anything that stops you from trying it where you live especially when it gives you a window to connect with your near and dear ones? Maybe the small device, the gadget.

While sobremesa literally means "over the table, it's the time spent after a meal, hanging out with family or friends, chatting and enjoying each other's company. A meaningful and quality time spent at the dinner table chatting on various subject of interest.



Saturday, 29 December 2018

Your child's fascination with the the big G.


"This is your private part. Nobody should touch it or see it. Only your mom, dad and your doctor can. Never touch your friend's private parts and do not allow anyone to touch yours. It’s private.”
"What is private mamma?"
“Private means, it belongs to you only and nobody should see it, touch it. Also, we do not talk about it with everyone. If you want to talk about it, come to papa or me.”  That's my chant to my child.Blaming the other child for all the ills my child develops, is NOT ON MY AGENDA.


Click on the link to read the full article on Mompresso

Image courtesy-Pixabay

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

A KISS is GREAT...but a KISS can WAIT!

Michelle Obama once said while addressing a group of young girls-"There is no boy, at this age, cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting an education," Obama added. “If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the President of the United States."


To me, she made a very valid point which is applicable to both adolescent boys and girls.We(parents) call it a distraction, may be the biggest and they(our adolescents) call it LOVE...the truest.



We dealt with sexuality and our child some time back( read http://www.fourcloverlife.com/2017/01/meaningful-parenting-guiding-adolescent.html) and understood the havoc the hormones play at the time of puberty and continues to even at a later stageA lot of life then and onward has to do with LOVE, and this comes at the most unwanted time... a time when the adolescents are right in the middle of their EDUCATION,right in the midst of forming a goal and working towards it,right in the midst of shaping life. 

We know it strikes without knowledge. It pops up at the most inopportune time. There is nothing wrong with the feeling. It's the timing which is concerning. Holding Academics in one hand and Cupid in another is a tough one, and many times Cupid takes the better of them. What suffers is education and family. The feelings look flimsy to us but not to them.
A relationship is not just about two people liking each other. It goes much deeper and farther. Some emotions are better understood and LIVED when one is at a particular stage of life, and the stage of adolescence is very fragile. It's not in their capacity biologically or emotionally to comprehend such relationship and meet its demands. The reality is far away from ideal. Can we stop it from happening to our children? NO Can we stop our child from it? NO, We can only guide. And how do we do that?


By 

Being open, transparent and honest with the child- Sex related education or matters of hearts, we all have been there and know what it feels like. If we discuss it with our child, he feels more connected with us knowing that 'it happened with my parent's too.' We want our child to share with us but does sharing happen one sided? NO. We develop trust by sharing our stories and accepting his and not brushing it away as a flimsy feeling. Doing so will only enrage him and cast a shadow of a doubt whether his 'parents really understand?' If you have been in love, share.

Helping the child develop a purposeful passion which can act as a major distraction for him- It is always a good idea for the child to develop a love for himself. Be it in the field of sports or any other creative pursuit, passion (not academic really) helps channelize mind and energy to something that truly interests the child in a meaningful way. Ensuring that the child understands the importance of EDUCATION in his life and the stage at which he is- It's not about grades or GPA's but about EDUCATION which is a necessity come what may. Emphasizing the relation of this age and stage with education and career goals is a responsibility which parents should proactively undertake.

Helping him see a goal for himself-The parents, and the child together chart out a goal of life- What does he want to do? What is the aim that he is working for? What interests him and what opportunities are available to him to capitalize on? Help him build a SMART goal for himself-S - specific, significant, stretching, M - measurable, meaningful, motivational, A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented, R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented, T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable. Not to forget that a goal will keep him motivated to invest himself and his energies in the right direction.

Providing a warm, loving environment- This ensures safe and secure feelings for the child at whichever stage he is and contributes towards trust building between the child and the parent. 
Life is colorful when you are a teenager...exploring the world is natural but can it go unlimited?


Helping the child recognize these feelings, understand them and see it's consequences- Much as you would want, the adolescent  of yours cannot shut himself from these feelings. What you can do is to reiterate the importance of these feelings coming at a more appropriate stage. You can let him know that it's okay to have these feelings, but the age is in complete conflict with the feeling and that these feelings can create unwanted emotions which have serious consequences. You can help the child 'see through.'


Helping him decode the peer pressure- It's the strongest at this age, and our adolescents are extremely vulnerable to peer influence because they want to be liked, to fit in, or because they worry that other friends might make fun of them if they don't go along with the group. Others go along because they are curious to try something new that others are doing. The idea that "everyone's doing it" can influence some adolescents to leave their better judgment or their common sense, behind. And therein lies the danger. You as a parent can make your child decode these influences and put a perspective to what these pressures can lead us to. Getting into sexual intimacy because others are doing it too is not a wise idea. You can make him aware of the lurking danger so that he is better prepared.


... and even then, there are chances that love relationships manage to grow despite the safety net. They may happen for a short period in a very fleeting way and erode off, or they may go deep down to stir the heart in many ways. For some adolescents, these feelings come and go, and for some, they come and stay. What do you do then? What about heartbreaks which are most often the result of relationships at this stage? How do you handle that? You know heartbreaks are extremely painful. It has the capacity to destroy your child and leave him scarred. Is there any remedy? YES and NO.
We will explore this in the upcoming article-  Son, I am sorry your relationship turned out this way, but...


“Adolescence is like having only enough light to see the step directly in front of you.”
Sarah Addison Allen


To read more articles related to this click on the following links


DISCLAIMER- This article uses the gender of a boy to convey a message which is applicable to both the adolescent boy and the girl. The use of 'himself' has been done because I have a boy child, but the message is for both gender.

Image courtesy-Pixabay.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

How many classes have you enrolled you child for? 'Comparison - Part 3'.










A mom of a 5-year-old talking in a group of moms- "I keep her very busy. She is enrolled for Ballet, Bollywood dance, Jazz, swimming and gymnastics' and of course her regular coaching class for English and Math."

I quipped wondering about her heroic child- " Why so many classes? How does she manage? And why a coaching class? Isn't it too early. She goes to regular school?"
"Common Yaa, haven't you seen everybody goes and it will give her an edge", pat came the reply.

"Edge over?" I asked.


"Edge over others in alphabets, numbers, shapes ...it will make her faster and better and she will get into the habit of 'regular study hours'. And extracurricular activities are so much needed nowadays. Everyone is into so much. Isn't it? Have a look at Facebook and you will know what other children are up to?"

I was ready to faint, but I managed a croak - "But you can teach her these and make her get into regular study hours. Are you working? (understandably she doesn't get enough time on her hand to sit with her child."

She chirped animatedly- “No. I don't work. It's just that 'she doesn't listen to me. When the homework comes from the coaching class, she is more organized."


And everybody nodded in unison. Clap clap clap .

I walked away surprised, sad and anxious with questions bombarding in my mind.

A child doesn't listen to her parents and that parent needs an external institution to help her listen and regularize her life, introduce schedule and make her sit. Is it a parent's success or failure? I wondered.

That child is a normal child with no special needs. Her mother is a well educated SAHM. Where is the disconnect and is that disconnect the right one? Today it a coaching institute, what about tomorrow. Giving a listening ear to one’s parent is the most basic that every child should be taught.

Are we so short of time, energy and willingness or parental control that 'external coaching institutions' have become a need at the age of 3,4 and 5? Don't we know our alphabets, shapes, and numbers? What is the missing link? Is it our own ambitiousness which we are transferring on our children? I am in for all kinds of coaching when needed. I took math tuition in 9th grade too. But preschool?

Pondering over these, my thoughts shifted to my own child.

“Should I put my 3-year-old for the coaching class?”. What about ‘his edge'?”

“Should I enroll him for hip hop, gymnastics, and Taekwondo? Am I missing out on something if I am not able to post his glories on Facebook?"

By the time, I came home, I was sorted in my mind-
“it's not the children who are competing. It's their parents who are competing...  garbed in fancy Barbie frocks and Superman T-shirts."


I was sure that YES, I WILL enroll him but will ask a few questions before. I shall not jump the bandwagon because everyone is doing so. Today if I jumped, tomorrow my son would be jumping on every bandwagon because 'everyone else’ is and that is not what I want. I want him to think for himself and his choices.

· Why am I enrolling him for that violin class? Am I enrolling him because I never got to do it and he will make my dreams come true? Is it because everyone else is or we as a family feel that violin is the opportunity we want him to expose? Is it my dream after all?

· Will he be able to sustain this for a long period of time?Every skill needs patience, perseverance and focus to be mastered. Will I or he drop out in the middle?

· Will all these classes leave him drained or trained for something wonderful that he actually enjoys doing?

Studies have constantly shown that mastery of a skill musical or physical requires extended focused attention and a child's active participation. If they are learning music, they must practice regularly, exhibit long periods of focus, memorize lengthy musical passages, master technical skills and understand diverse musical structure. The same amount of energy and attention goes for dance or sport. Is it possible for a child to master a skill when he is engaged in 3 or 4 forms of different skills along with the pressure of academics? More importantly- is it fair?

Is it good to start early- Yes! Such kind of learning experiences tends to foster cognitive processing, particularly during childhood when the neural connection is forming rapidly. But how early is an answer every parent has to find for their own family considering the interest of their own child?


It's difficult I understand for a parent to not feel competitive when other parent’s post pictures of their children with awards and trophies on Facebook and social media platform. While that is a big life question in itself as to why parents do so and what do they get out of showcasing their child as mini celebrities, a parallel question is - how can the parent at the receiving end handle it or stay away from this race?

I understand a child needs high test scores to gain access to the best academic opportunities and extracurricular activities to widen his horizons. If we want the best learning environment for our child for the many years he is in school and after, test scores and trophies matter. With stakes this high, we have to help our kids prepare well whether or not we believe that the skills they are learning now are the skills that are going to make them successful in life.

I UNDERSTAND, but can there be a slightly healthier way of going about it so that we do less damage? A less stressful way?

How difficult it is to jump out of this vicious circle of comparison and help the child discover himself and his talents and work on them rather than discover the other child, his talents and try to become like him.
Is it so difficult to RESPECT and APPRECIATE our child?

Compare if you must but don't judge. Compare for inspiration and not for aspiration.


Try it out - "You know son, I met your friend the other day at piano class. He really plays well and he has learnt it in a short period of time. What I have seen is that he focuses a lot, has kept few hours every day in his schedule for practice and sticks to it. It's a thing to learn from him."

or

Try this one out - "Did you see him? How well he plays the piano. He got a trophy again. Why don't you ever learn from him? Don't you feel like getting that trophy?"

Which one is appropriate for your child? And I rest my case here.


Jack of all...master of none.......I compared and judged...but where is ‘MY SON’?

Click on the link to read Part 1
http://www.fourcloverlife.com/2016/11/meaningful-parenting-comparing-your.html

Thank you for dropping by. Do not forget to like, follow and share. Drop in your feedback if any.

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


Image Courtesy-Pixabay

Did you offload your baggage to your child? Is it heavy ? 'Comparison Part 2'

Are you carrying an excess baggage and offloading it to your child?




The burden of your unfulfilled dreams, the blame for your failures, the strain of your unmet expectations, and anxiety of your poor self-esteem ...is it fair to put them all on your child and label it - I am an ambitious parent.

 OR

The grandeur of your success, the magnificence of your achievements the loftiness of your fame and glory, the constant praise of your hard work and intellect- Is it fair to assume and expect a similar destiny for him?



You couldn't do it, so you want your child to do it now. Fair or Unfair?
or
You did it and so you want your child to do it. Fair/Unfair?

We all have big expectations from our children. Haven't we heard conversations like-

I couldn’t do much in my life. My circumstances were such. But I want my son to do now.”

or

“I have earned this success and fame for myself. I want my son to do the same.”

or

“I couldn’t learn music when I was a child. I wanted to do so many things. I will ensure my son gets everything that he wants and does all that I didn’t get to do.”

or

“I was fortunate to get opportunities to explore my musical talent and rest is history. My hard work paid off. I want to give all kinds of opportunities to my son too. I wish he follows my line.”

How difficult it is to let your child do what he chooses for himself and not what you choose for him?

How will he know what to choose?
Guide not instruct, discipline not repress and direct not control.

“See son, I know your love for sports. My experience tells me that academics are equally important. While I may like to see you excel in academics and get good grades, I also want you to pursue what interests you the most. It's 'being the best of whatever you can be' that matters. Can we both together work out a way where you are able to manage academics and sports together? We can talk to your teacher and understand how she can help while you are away for your soccer classes. Also, let's work out a schedule which will help you better manage your time."

These are just few words spoken at one point in time. Conversation with your child is an everyday affair and building trust and open channels of communication is a constant work. That way the child is more open in listening to you, understanding your perspective because he sees you understanding his.

RESPECT DEVELOPS MUTUALLY, not when you say- "I have seen life more than you. You have no idea about the competition out there. You better get your act together and do well in your studies. I don't understand why you keep running behind that ball?


Click on the link to read Part 3. How many classes have you enrolled your child for?
http://www.fourcloverlife.com/2016/12/meaningful-parenting-how-many-classes.html
Click on the link to read Part 1 of the Comparisons series.
http://www.fourcloverlife.com/2016/11/meaningful-parenting-comparing-your.html

Thank you for dropping by. Do not forget to like, follow and share. Drop in your feedback if any.

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

Image courtesy-Pixabay

Meaningful Parenting - Comparing your child to everyone. Compare if you must but don't judge. Part 1


So, you did it again? You compared your child to his friends, his sibling and the icing on the cake- you compared him with your own self at that age as if you were the best gift to mankind then. Really? Were you?
Our parents did to us, their parents did to them and now we the educated generation a-z (whichever alphabetical generation we belong to- never got that logic though) the pseudo ‘KOOL’ parent do it too. This time it’s well wrapped, sugar coated and sophisticatedly used. The dialogue has changed from-

“Dekho Pandey ji ke beta ko. Kuch samajh mein aata hai? Dekho kahan se kahan pahunch gaya aur ek tum ho ki bas khel khel. Zara seekho kuch. Sab kuch to kar rahe hain tumhare liye, phir bhi …” Said in the most raw form…so thorny that it actually pricked the heart.
(Look at Mr. Pandey's son. Do you understand? See his accomplishments and look at where you are? We are doing everything for you but you are such a wastrel.)

(Look at Mr. Pandey’s son. Do you really understand? See his accomplishments and learn from him. We are doing so much for you but you don’t get it.”)

And now- “I see you are putting a lot of effort in learning that dance form. I am glad you like it but academics are also important. Have you seen how your sister balances her music and studies? It’s good to learn from others.”

Yes. It’s good to learn from others but there isn’t much learning that happens when that ‘other’ is exalted to a status much higher than yours, given praise and attention and you are made to feel like a loser in front of him. No truly, I mean it. 'Loser' is the word.  And the loser is the problem.

You cannot learn when that other is your very own sibling but given a reward for scoring good marks and you are left out with a reprimand.
And for sure if that other happens to be your own very father, you start to question your own biological connection.


Why do we compare?
Because we have an inner need to determine our own social and personal worth based on how do we measure up and stack against ‘others’.

Leon Festinger Social Comparison Theory goes a long way in explaining why comparisons happen to start with.

Leon Festinger mentioned his hypotheses in his book entitled Social Comparison that “there exist, in the human organism, a drive to evaluate his opinions and abilities.” People get a sense of validity and cognitive clarity by comparing themselves in significant domains against an objective benchmark provided by the individuals they are comparing themselves with. And this validity makes them get the answer to ‘where am I in life’ because without these they pretty much feel lost. :)


And we engage in constant self-evaluation across a variety of domains such as intelligence, success, attractiveness and CHILDREN.

This piece is not about comparisons in general but the comparison in the domain of child-parent relationship. It's unhealthy and it’s never going to get the better of anyone.

Think about for a moment- Did you spend your childhood being forever compared? I did. Because I was always the better one as against my younger sibling and that never made me feel good. Ironical, isn’t it? But why would an older sibling feel good when her younger sibling whom she loves so much is being compared to her and her accomplishments and made to feel ‘lesser’ or ‘poorer’?

Love doesn’t work that way. And sometimes it does too. The older or the better off sibling lives with a grand perception of self and becomes inconsiderate when dealing with the ‘lesser’ sibling.

That’s not the parent job to create such grandeur around one sibling and stack up against the other as ‘don’t know how he become like this’.

Some children temperamentally shove off such demeaning comparisons and move on, but some children are sensitive and do not have the social skills and impulse control to keep their envy and social comparisons quiet. Their self-image, self-esteem and self-identity are based more on what ‘me vis a vis the other’ as opposed to ‘me vis a vis the better me.’

How do we compare?

In a manner that always put the ‘self’ is an uncomfortable zone.

Upward comparison happens when the person compares himself with others who are better than him while downward comparison proposes that the individual inclines to compare himself with another who is worse than him.

Parents tend to engage in upward comparisons almost all the time. “Look at him.”


What does it lead to?

Children do not have the social skills or emotional maturity to truly assess what’s going on. Parents need to understand what they are achieving out of comparisons?

  • Is the child feeling positive emotions or going through envy and jealousy?

  • Is the child feeling motivated to reach to the level of that ‘other’ or is more determined to hurt the parent just the way they have hurt him?

These are real life scenarios and comparison of a child to his friend, sibling or to the parent figure doesn’t make it easy for the child.

Because parents not only compare, they form opinions, look for examples to reaffirm their opinion and then pass a judgment. IT IS THIS JUDGEMENT WHICH IS DAMAGING.

You not only hit the child’s self-esteem but also his drive to do better.You bring them up in an atmosphere of ‘comparisons’ and all their life they engage in unhealthy comparisons and subject themselves to the feeling of inferiority and guilt.




Can you do away with comparisons? No.
Learning to manage ‘comparisons’ effectively with children.

COMPARE IF YOU MUST BUT DON’T JUDGE.
Sibling to sibling- You have two children and  both bring their uniqueness to your world. Try to engage in their uniqueness and revel in it. One might bring you ‘academic joy’ and the other brings you ‘musical joy’. Both of them, would at times put you through not so joyful or thrilling experiences .Refrain from becoming the reason for sibling rivalry.


When comparing your child to your friend’s child- This can get really tricky because we have no idea about what’s going on in someone else’s family. You may like a certain aspect of that child but please remember that many a time children tend to behave better and more desirable with people other than their own parents. When it comes to academic success, what if the child came to you and said- "his dad is from the MIT. He has the genes of a ‘genius’." How would that make you feel?

As a parent
Be Mindful- Many a times comparisons happen unconsciously. Make a conscious choice to refrain from comparisons or when you do, you do it without passing judgments. Your idea is to motivate and inspire the child and not leave him feeling ‘lowly’ and envious.
Adopting a more realistic view of your child and ‘others’- Just because he is your child doesn’t mean he must always be ‘perfect’; in every field and match up to your expectations. That’s a criminal expectation to start   with. Having academic success is important but if your child has his interest somewhere else, you can keep comparing him to the IIT’s and MIT’s of the world, it will not make any difference. You are the KOOL parent. If you don’t respect him and understand him, who will? And the moment you find yourself agonizing over someone else’s child high grades and trophies, try to consciously think about him, his struggles and happiness. This is your child and his struggles and happiness are different.

Cultivate gratitude for the child you have in your life- This sounds beautiful and easier said than done. All the more when a friend’s child has competed GATE(Gifted and Talented Education Program) and your child is nowhere near that gate. But But But…. make a conscious choice to respect your unique child and be thankful. There are many parents who don’t have what you have.
Redirect your thoughts- When you find yourself engaging in harmful comparisons, redirect your thoughts to positive traits of your child and all that he means to you. Compliment your child for those qualities and help him build his self-esteem.
Focus on strengths of your child instead of weaknesses. Your child is half full. Why to always look at him half empty? How would it make you feel if your manager treated you like that?

Compare for sure- Of course you should compare. Do it every day when you cuddle with him at night. Ask him- How did you school go today? Did you learn anything new? How was your day a better one than yesterday? How is your math’s coaching going on? We need to get better than last time.

It’s called- Helping him become the best of what he is capable of, being his own competitor. By comparing him to others you are setting a standard of excellence. What if he is meant to be beyond that standard? Aren’t you limiting him then? What if he is meant to be of a different standard? Aren’t you suppressing him? Food for thought.
“The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.”  Lily Tomlin
Sir/Mam- You are a parent. Your channel of communication should be of a kind that your child thinks of ‘YOU’ first before anyone else. Only you can give him that ease, that comfort, and that love.

Click on the following link to read Part 2
http://www.fourcloverlife.com/2016/12/meaningful-parenting-did-you-offload.html
Click on the following link to read Part 3
http://www.fourcloverlife.com/2016/12/meaningful-parenting-how-many-classes.html




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