Mothers must share their experiences. We all must.

Why should we share our thoughts and experiences? 

We must share because we tend to learn better from another person’s life lessons. And we also get to see a particular situation from different perspectives.

One hot June afternoon, as I lay on the tile floor cuddled with my girls telling them stories from their childhood and mine, my phoned beeped. A message in my chat box. Nothing special about it…right?

It was special. It was from someone I had been friends with through Facebook for over two years. But we had never interacted previously. A few likes here and there on photos and status updates.

What was common between us? We were both mothers. 

She told me that one of my old posts on our life with Dad working in a different country stayed with her. And then she asked if I could help her in understanding her older child’s psyche as they were in a similar situation. We chatted for a few minutes. But as I shared my childhood experience, why I was not close to my mother and what troubled me, she immediately related it with her recent experiences. She said she’ll take corrective measures immediately to help her older child. And I was happy that sharing my experiences might have helped her take control at the right time.
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Children are innocent. Soft like clay. You can mould them the way you want in the first few years. But everything depends on the way they perceive your actions. So give logical explanations to support your actions. Understand they will.

When Dad left for the Mid-East, I was five and my sister was just over a year-old. Mom was working as a teacher in the same school that I attended.  We had three of our relatives staying with us to “help her” take care of us. Mom was the best. But she had lots of responsibilities as a mother of two, a teacher, a single parent and the additional burden of having people at home. And this left her with not much time to express her love. 
I was the older child but not old enough to understand her situation. I had suddenly been deprived of my Hero. My Dad. And like every child, I wanted to take refuge in Mom and her cuddles. I would go up to her every now and then to smother her with kisses and if she was in the midst of cooking, washing or nursing, she would either scold, ignore, postpone or show irritation. I would feel hurt. At night I seldom got to sleep with Mom because of my aunt who wouldn’t let me sleep next to her. They thought I might kick the little baby. I would lean over to kiss Mom a good night and she would push me away. Not because she loved me any less, but because she was worried that I might hurt my little sis.

I was staying physically with my mom but in my mind I had wandered away from her. Far far away. To me she was someone who gave me instructions and I had to follow. Almost like a hostel warden. She did cuddle with me occasionally but by then I was least interested. The bridge was already built. And I was at the far end of it. Poor Mom didn’t even know that her child wasn’t the same anymore. Imagine how all those years could have been saved had I told her about my feelings right then or if she had spoken to me at length. Now when I share it with her she feels bad, so I don’t. 

These were small instances for big people, but for that five-year old, it meant a lot. I wanted to write it all to Dad, but I was scared of hurting Mom when she reads the letters. So I didn’t. Now I think I should have. I should have shared it all with someone, so my mother could get a hint of what I was going through. I regret this and so I share every possible thing that I learn from my parenting experience or others with as many as possible. Sharing is caring. And you never know who finds help in your experiences. So share you must. 

I try and express my love for the girls as much as possible. But I am sure they will have their own set of complaints against me. Every generation has its own book of complaints and regrets. All we can do is to do our best. 

So read, share and act, I will. Will you?

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Let Them Speak Their Mind.

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Picture Credit: Let’s Get Searchical

Let Them Ask…

Who did that?

What happened?

Where did it happen?

When did it happen?

Why did it happen?

How did it happen?

Yes. I am talking about children. Of all ages. Don’t just shut them away.

I hear complaints from a lot of parents that their child is not inquisitive. Or he/she doesn’t take initiative. What I have noticed in most of the cases including mine is that we do not allow them to talk. Yes, it is purely our mistake.

All fingers are not alike. All children are not the same. Some are born as risk-takers. Some are under-confident.

When a child asks repetitive questions, we tend to shoo them away either because we are tired of answering the same questions or we fear them to become rebels who question anything and everything. Isn’t that what we have grown up with? Were you allowed to ask questions, raise your doubts or voice your opinion as youngsters? I was not. Every time I opened my mouth to ask something, I remember being asked to shut up or being labeled a rebel. Either by my parents or by an elder in the family or by a teacher.

I shut myself up in my cocoon. But thanks to my habit of maintaining a journal, I did ask all the questions I had. I did raise all my doubts. I did voice my opinion. Of course, without an audience I did not receive any answers for most of them.

But there was just one person who I wish had more time to spend with me. Dad. He answered most of my queries. Silly or otherwise. I wrote to him almost everyday.  My letters reached him in bunches of seven to ten. The high cost of sending an Airmail was the reason. But Mom did sent him every single letter of mine. And she did let me maintain my privacy. She would never read them. And Dad took the time to carefully answer every single question of mine.

I asked Dad almost everything that I had in my mind. With him I never had to think twice before opening my mouth. You might not believe me if I tell you that it was my Dad who cleared most of my doubts about puberty and adolescence, even though Mom was the one physically available with me at all times. Mom did answer some of my queries. But I didn’t find any logic in many of them. Because she would tell me exactly what she had heard as a child. But Dad gave me logical answers. Many a times he asked me counter questions to help me find the answers myself.

So, why I sat up early in the morning and scribbled this post is because I read this piece of news the first thing in the morning.

Who is Shreya Singhal?

And in this article, the one major thing that caught my attention was this.

“We have always been very vocal in our family and encouraged our kids to do things they believe in,” said Shreya’s mother.

If this 21-year-old wasn’t allowed to discuss openly about her opinion with her family, if she wasn’t given complete support to try what she wanted to, Section 66A of the IT Act which vaguely prohibited us from freedom of speech, would not have been struck down.

It is very important to let our children be vocal. It helps them develop into responsible human beings. It helps them differentiate between right and wrong, what is justified and what is not justified. So while we try to educate them to be polite, mannered and disciplined, we should also let them speak their mind.

Remember, inventions wouldn’t have been possible without minds that questioned.

Being Tolerant

As a parent, what is your biggest worry for your child? What are your expectations from him/her?

Being an academic topper?

Shine brightly in extra-curricular activities?

Be the Numero Uno in everything under the sky?

Parents these days have a lot of expectations from their offspring.

The argument: “We slog a lot to provide the children with the best of everything.”

Well said.

But my question: Are you sure that that is exactly what your child wants too? Have you ever tried to understand what are his/her interests? Have you ever tried to locate whether he/she is happy with the path you’ve mentally charted out for him/her? 

Mostly the answer is NO. Of course, what does a toddler or a primary school-er know about dreams and aspirations!

In this war of making our child the very best in the world and achieving our unfulfilled dreams through our children, we have all forgotten a very important thing. We have forgotten to teach them to be good human beings. We have forgotten to teach them that failure is not the end of the road. Rather it is a very important lesson. It teaches us to value every small success of ours. It also teaches us to work hard the next time. It also makes us face the treatment from others and helps us realize why it is important to support each other in tough times. It helps us realize the importance of tolerance. The ability of children to accept differences puts them in an ideal position to learn tolerance.
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Learning tolerance starts at an early age (do click the link and read)

That is so true. I read this beautiful article and am sharing a small snippet here.

What is tolerance? Tolerance represents the respect of the freedom of the other in terms of its different mode of thinking and behavior. Regarding religious diversity, Larousse dictionary defines tolerance as an attitude of respect for those who have a different religion or religious doctrine. In other words, although I do not share your religious faith and practices, I respect you as a person. But not any behavior must be accepted. According to human rights, UNESCO stresses the idea that the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or to renounce to your own beliefs.

Why should we teach children the tolerance? Education for tolerance should aim at preventing discrimination and marginalization, which are common forms of intolerance. UNESCO argues that tolerance education should help young people to develop their ability to think critically and ethically.

In almost all the kids (including mine) that I meet these days I have seen this urge to stay at the top. It is the parents themselves who provoke the children to resort to unlawful means to achieve their goals. They are so focused on that top position that they fail to realize that there are positions beneath it. They have not been taught that if they don’t get onto the top position, life does not end. They have not been taught to respect others. They tease those who fail to reach the top position. People argue that there is so much the children have to do and so we must not engage in teaching them about accepting failure. They say that it’ll make them lose focus from their goals. But is that true? I doubt.

Do you know why the suicide rates are increasing every year?

Do you know why we are witnessing more and more school/street deaths/crimes every year?

Do you know why the number of divorces are on a rise?

I sincerely believe that it is because we aren’t teaching our youngsters to be tolerant. We are equipping them with everything else but this important tool. Why else will a husband send a divorce notice to a wife who is five minutes late in bringing pappadam to the dinner table? Why else will a youth stab another youth for playfully walking in front of his moving car? Why else will a boy shoot a shopkeeper for telling him that Lays chips is over?

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Another article worth sharing is What Happens in College Starts in Kindergarten. The title says it all. Doesn’t it?

Last year my daughter participated in the Open Delhi Judo Championship, reached the finals and won a bronze medal. She was surprised to see both her dad and me congratulating her and being proud about her achievement. She asked us if we weren’t upset that she didn’t win a gold. When we told her that we were happy that she participated and did her best irrespective of her position she was even more surprised.  Later she told us that her friend who won silver was so scared of going back home because her mother would punish her for not winning gold. I know the child and her mother and I confess that her expectation from the kid is mammoth. I have seen the lady blaming and accusing teachers during PTM when the girl loses a mark or two in any of the subjects or scores anything less than A+. What kind of a role model is she being to the child? What is the use of the exceptional results if your child feels scared to even talk to you?

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It pains to read headlines like these:

8-year-old shoots, kills elderly caregiver after video game

Teenager shoots one person dead at Washington high school

Two Nagaland youths racially abused, beaten in Gurgaon

Under-18s commit a quarter of all crimes

Bangalore: Minor rapes 3-year-old, victim critical

More youngsters turning to crime

Boy shoots classmate dead in Gurgaon school

Acid attack on four minor sisters in Chhattisgarh

With all this competitiveness, I feel we have lost on morality. The ability to distinguish between right and wrong or good and bad. We have ignored the need to pass on moral lessons to the next generation. It is very important to make them understand the need to co-exist. It is necessary to make them value what they have. It is important to make them respect the other person for who they are. It is equally important to let them know that their failure is not end of the road, but a sign to take a different path or pursue the same path with more effort and dedication.

Do we want more such headlines on crime by youth or can we take time to change the scenario in whatever little ways possible? Change begins at home.

Bearing grudges and seeking revenge doesn’t do anything good. Holding on to this resentment will only make us a prisoner of our own venomous thoughts.

If I were to choose one superpower I would have chosen to get into the minds of young children and make them more tolerant and respectful towards fellow beings. But since there is no such possibility I’ll try and educate as many children as possible on being tolerant and accepting defeat and failure gracefully.

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Today’s Project 365 prompt is

You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice: the ability to speak and understand any language, the ability to travel through time, or the ability to make any two people agree with each other.