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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Yet Another Parenting Dilemma

As a parent of a five-year old growing up outside of India, far away from the environment that influenced my childhood – I worry about a lot of things.

Importantly, how to ensure that I bring up a child who is well-mannered and polite? Not that good manners are exclusive to Indian kids brought up in India, but cultural differences do account a lot for the way in which we perceive things; and to me, being well-mannered is the traditional Indian definition that we have of it – saying please and thank you, being respectful to elders, standing up when talking to a teacher, etc.


I am quite the monster mom – demanding obedience from my child, glowering at her if she argues, cracking down on rudeness, but sometimes I wonder if I am in the minority? There is a lot being written nowadays on the changing role of parenting, and on letting children be since this develops their individuality and freedom to express and choose. I also spoke to a number of people who run parenting workshops and counselling sessions, as well as parents from different backgrounds (for the upcoming cover story in the January issue), and it really seems that I am making a number of mistakes in bringing up my daughter – I tend to make her choices for her, I insist on discipline and good behaviour – at home and outside, I do make a big deal of socially appropriate behaviour, I am not above giving her a whack or two to discipline her.

This is not to say that the people I spoke to advocated bad behaviour – far from it, but they did speak of the need to be more accepting of our children nowadays, be more of a friend than only parent, and most importantly, instead of penalising them for bad behaviour, actually studying the underlying causes. I have enough friends who subscribe to this view – allowing children to ask for a mug of milk and then throw it away if they don’t want it, letting them speak their minds freely and openly… the first I would not allow,
and the second, while I would like to think I would allow it, I know that I would insist that whatever my child wants to say, be couched in moderate and reasonable words. Basically, I am a ‘strict’ mom; and not
able to make up my mind as to whether that’s good or bad.

My daughter is definitely given more comforts and luxuries than I had growing up – should she also be
given more freedom, lest she decide to wrest it from me for herself later? How I bring her up, the values that I instil in her – does this even matter? Who is to say what a child will grow up to be? After all, no parent knowingly wants to pass on bad or inappropriate values to their child, and yet, a child from a strict upbringing could grow up stable or wild; and a child from a ‘laissez-faire’ background, could again, grow
up stable or wild! Parents out there – any thoughts on these points, I would appreciate your inputs:

• How do you ensure that your children grow up to be well-mannered?
• What does being mannered even mean today? Is it important?
• If not, what is?
• How do you find a balance between being a parent and a friend?
• When do you discipline your child, when do you let be?

*Reposted, with permission, from the ParentEdge blog (www.parentedge.in). ParentEdge is a parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

- Debolina Raja Gupta
 
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And like I always believe in and say:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ

Happy Parenting!!!!

Be good to your little one, and to the millions of little ones out there who truly need every bit of love and compassion they can get.....Be a grown up...save the little ones.... Debolina Raja Gupta
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