Monday, April 20, 2009

16) Problem-Situations

"It is when you give of yourself that you truly give" Kahlil Gibran.

Parents face countless situations, when their parenting skills are tested. In this and the next few posts, we shall refer to some of them.

Children often complain that parents do not spend `enough' time with them. Why?
a) Whatever parents do, the `perception' of children is what matters. When children feel that parents ignore them and `make' time more for adult pleasures and interests, the label sticks.
b) When daddy leaves early and returns late, and mummy works on shifts, they have a serious `time problem' because of their jobs. The home must be run; children given a comfortable life. Therefore jobs and the money parents earn, become crucial. If this is not clearly explained to the children, parents are misunderstood.
c) Children tend to compare themselves with their peers who have more time with their parents. Here again, parents have to study the two situations and clarify doubts to the children, in their idiom. Otherwise misconceptions continue.
d) When parents find it difficult to convince all the children, they should focus on the `one who calls the shots', and convince him/her. Once that is done, that child will convince the rest. Even if there are only two children, one takes on the mantle; the other follows.
e) When the gap between the spouses widens, mummy paints daddy as the villain. She is ready to make sacrifices for them, she says, but daddy does not care enough to find time for them. The children grow up unhappy with daddy. When they are older they find out that mummy played foul. In the battle of the spouses both lose.

How do parents tackle the recurring complaint from children?
By building TRUST, which comes from keeping PROMISES and being FAIR.
During the week, which is packed with professional engagements, it is difficult to set aside time for the children - to play with them or just chat with them. So, parents should creatively plan `fun' activities for the weekends and holidays. `On Saturday we will go on a picnic'. That promise should be kept, unless there is an emergency. The explanation that follows such a cancellation, better be good, because children do not easily forget broken promises and digits on their Default-Scoreboard go up. When more and more promises are broken, children place no store by the words of parents, and they lose credibility. Parents beware!

Anticipation is keener than enjoyment. When joint-activities are planned, it is the build-up, the anticipation that sparks enthusiasm. Parents should try to carefully utilize this period of waiting for the event, to counsel good behavior, because children are receptive during such times.

Some parents try to give children time in `quantity'; others in `quality'. Whether in quantity or quality, for children it is the `NOW' that matters; what they can enjoy now.

Besides planned activities, surprises add to the excitement that children experience.
When daddy, normally late from office, walks in early and decides to play a short game, or read a bed time story to them, or mummy takes time off from the kitchen to listen to happenings at school, the children treasure such times. The idea is for parents not to miss out on any opportunity. Kahlil Gibran was right. Only when children acknowledge that parents give of `themselves', and not just of their time, will they be satisfied.

A little boy, sitting at his doorstep, waited for his father to return from work. `Dad, how much do you earn for one hour of work?' Annoyed, the dad snaps:` none of your business'. Sad, the little boy goes to his room. After sometime dad goes up to his son's room. `I earn $50 an hour' he says. `Will you give me $25?' Surprised, yet eager to please his son whom he offended, he gives him the money. Then taking another $25 from under his pillow, he gives $50 to his dad with a request: 'Will you
spend an hour with me?'

1 comment:

  1. I am struck by the message on keeping promises and also by the snippet on empty first, then fill.

    On both counts we often fall short. Many parents think that when it comes to delivering on commitments, children may forget, be distracted or fooled and often think it's just ok to default because they after all children. I can't agree more about the importance of keeping commitments. The reveal not only the importance we give children, but more fundamentally our own character. And children will follow suit faltering on their commitments to people, and thinking it’s ok. Children walk away from such parents feeling let down and unloved. Worse still, they have very bad example influencing them.

    The other point about unlearning and learning. With the modern parent quite savvy, well educated, well read, many have fixed ideas about what they need to do. They either pick it up from their elders, from books, or from personal experience. Sadly, there are no real formulae. Yet many parents lack the humility and flexibility to adapt, unlearn, relearn and effectively manage their parenting paradigm. What most of us need is the willingness to see how little we know, how complex and dynamic parenting can be, and how we can cope better with an open mind and a willing heart.