Redding, CA

I Am Liking the Person My Daughter Is Becoming

Modern Parent

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Becoming a mother comes with a sudden realization that you are responsible for another being. A human being. Someone who will grow up to become their own self. Not a simple task at hand.

Motherhood is a crazy concoction of doubt, fear, and amazement. Doubt that you may do things wrong, fear that you might end up as a complete failure, and amazement at such little things. Even though you know your child will walk, that first step fills you up with such amazement as if this is the first time a human being has put a foot ahead of another!

There is no perfect parenting. One should always remember that. I, too, entered that arena with my limited knowledge and learned the ropes as I walked the path.

It was not just my baby growing; I, too, was growing and learning with her. And during these years, as I look back, I feel I did a fairly good job (pat myself).

1. Letting her get bored

I had taken a break from my career when I had my daughter. I wanted to be around her the entire time. And I was hell-bent on giving as much time as humanly possible — to the extent that I would not let a single minute of her waking time go by when I was not doing something with her; logic being if I have left my job and am here, I should have the best ROI (the banker in me being still there).

And then, I came across a wonderful article that crashed my belief. It was about how letting your child get bored was actually good for the child. And here I was, completely at the other spectrum.

This article got me thinking, and I delved deeper into it. Rather than discarding it, I researched a bit more.

Children are gifted with great creativity. That is because they are not rooted in logic, rules, limitations, or fears. They are a clean slate.

Boredom is a mental state in straightforward terms when the mind does not know what to do next. Hence, it wanders, directionless — a perfect time to explore new things.

So, I consciously let her idle for certain periods and observed her. She would look around for some time, crawl to something, start touching them, feel them, or just look at them. She did not cry just because she was bored. She figured out something to do and would be engrossed in it.

Later on, when she whines about getting bored, instead of giving her options of what she can do, I just said- figure out something.

And after a little more whining, she would pick up some junk cardboard and make a wardrobe. Scraps of papers would turn into tiny books for her barbie’s library. And she would keep at it for long hours. And slowly, she started liking it.

Getting bored gives the perfect opportunity to the mind to wander into new pastures. Absurd-looking activities also hold the ability to shape up a child’s brain.

Don’t be hit by the pang of guilt the next time you see your child getting bored. Have faith. They are equipped to come out of it.

2. Not rushing to help her every time

A child comes with a blank memory. Each moment, each incident, each reaction, each event carries learning for the mind and keeps building the memory.

A child has not learned impatience till we teach it.

When children cry, they observe the reactions they receive and decipher them accordingly. It is more of a repetitive memory for children.

I had consciously not rushed to her each time she could not put the lid of the bottle, or pick that big pillow, or button her own shirts. She had all the time in the world to try them. As long as I was sure she was safe, she was free to keep trying for the umpteenth time.

Every time I rush to help her, I basically reduce her ability to attempt certain things. In a way, I am telling her- Here, let me do it for you. You CANNOT do it. Or, maybe- Hey, there is a much easier way of doing things. Let someone else do it for you! So, the next time she tries a certain number of times and fails, all she has to do is look up to me.

Or worse, she may not even try.

Trying and failing are the major stepping stones of a child’s learning. Rushing to help would only deprive them of the knowledge. Life will have stored their share of future hardships and challenges. Let us equip them to face those challenges.

3. Asking the right questions

I can swear by this one. I have rarely given my daughter the straight-cut answer to anything she has asked. The answer would be a question that would provoke her to think. Basically, I wanted her to arrive at an appropriate solution on her own. By asking the right questions, I have tried to encourage her to think through an issue, small or big, to arrive at a decision.

Asking the right questions after a story, like, what part of the story would you have changed had you written the story, what part did you like the most, what would you have done had you been at Cinderella’s place. That widens the scope of the thoughts generated by the work of fiction. That also encourages them to form their beliefs. And, most importantly, it teaches them not to accept things just because they have been said.

As a parent, we try to facilitate everything for our children. Yes, but we should know when to stop. Solving things for them will only restrict them from trying things on their own. So, be it a simple question about which dress to wear to which elective to choose for the academic year. Rather than answering, lead them to the decision.

Parenting is not about being the solution to all hurdles of our children; it is about equipping them to overcome each one.

4. Listening first before reacting

When children grow up, we often hear parents saying, he doesn’t share anything with me anymore. He used to tell me about everything earlier. What changed?

The reaction.

When children are small, we say wow to all the things they do. Whenever a child does anything small, even when he could pick up something, we sound so encouraging. But as the child grows up, things change.

They come and tell us about something that involves a not-to-have-been-done thing, and the reaction they get is something like I-told-you-so. Followed by prescriptive advice and admonishments. Hence, the decision to avoid such situations seems like a more favorable option to children.

I had been cautious about holding back my initial reactions and listening out the whole incident. Another big deterrent of not giving away the initial reactions is that you may not know about things that might have happened after the initial wrongdoings!

Later at a cooler time, I steer the conversation smoothly towards the issue till she herself brings it up. And then I give my opinion, sounding very general about it.

Listening is a great tool to connect with children. It is only when we listen to what they have to say, lays a better understanding with them to also pay heed to what we have to say. It's a give-and-take thing.

Making it appear as if they have arrived at the decision themselves makes it easy to follow, with little resistance.

5. Saying the right words

Can I go out and play now- I can have two responses.

No, it’s too windy this time.

Yes, sure you can, but let the weather settle down a bit. I am sure in another hour or so it will, and you can play.

While the first reaction negated the whole idea, the second response was affirmative. The child didn’t feel denied of something. Handling the request positively enhanced the chances that the child would be more accommodative with the second response.

Take another example.

Just go and tidy up your room. This is a directive, loud and clear. Would you please tidy up your room? Now, this sounds like a request.

Why don’t you go take your bath? Another way to say this can also be — Right time to take your bath so that you are all set for lunch, and your friend doesn’t need to wait for you while you eat.

Making her see why something is being asked to be done will be a path of least resistance.

A little consciousness in what we say to our children, what words we choose can go a long way in shaping them the way we want and inculcating the values we want them to develop.

Wrapping up

Motherhood is like learning a new language, in which every action and reaction is being interpreted differently. There is no right or wrong way of speaking this language, as long as it comes from the heart and is full of love.

There is a beautiful way nature teaches us—a mother giraffe. When a giraffe gives birth to its baby, it kicks the baby real hard so that it stands up and starts running. Not because it is angry but to save it from predators waiting to devour it.

Right or wrong, better or worse, every mother has one underlying thing in common — unconditional love for her child. I have tried my best (and still do) to make my daughter a happy and strong person. Not only physically but mentally as well.

And I am loving the person she is becoming. 💖

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