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Parenting – striking the right balance

Anitha Bennettfamily

If you have been attending ‘What kind of parent are you?’ quizzes, you are like most parents who aren’t sure if they are doing right by their children. Parenting can sometimes be such a difficult balancing act that you don’t know whether you are getting it right.

Friends or parents?
All children want democracy and to be treated as equals. But they also need parental guidance and authority. Striking the balance perfectly is not easy. A child needs to understand that parents can be fun, but at the same time authority figures to look up to.

“Parents who make an effort to be their children’s friends become better listeners and become sensitive to their children’s needs,” remarks child counselor Sonali Ghosh.

All parents dream of topping their children’s list of friends. They may top the list during the younger years but as a child grows, parents’ popularity dips. To scramble back to the top, some parents over-indulge children, avoid correcting them, beg and plead for cooperation and even reward mistakes.

Do you know your child?
“You may think that you know your kindergartener well, but what if you caught him playing doctor and examining a girl child? Would you accept this as a phase that every child passes through — one of curiosity that almost everyone experiences — or would you cringe with embarrassment and shame?” asks Dr. Pooja Krishnan. Sometimes, just knowing what to expect of children helps. That’s where parenting books and websites are useful. Knowledge that hundreds of parents have confronted the same issue is reassuring. We don’t realise how many parents go through similar problems until we read about them.

Expectations vs. reality
A parent with a well-behaved eight-year-old may subconsciously expect the same from her five-year-old without acknowledging the age difference.

Our expectations of our children are also based on our own childhood experiences and attitudes. Acknowledging that our children belong to different generations with whole new sets of attitudes will make it easier to accept them and bring out the best in them.

Understanding your child
Taking time to observe your children’s behaviour and reactions to different situations will help to know them better.

Every child needs to be handled differently, and trying to manage siblings similarly seldom works. If one sibling is good with household chores, you don’t have to force the other one to do the same. He/she can be given other more comfortable chores. In attempts to be ‘fair’, parents often end up ignoring age differences and frustrate their children.

At the end of the day, giving time and attention to children is the surest way of figuring out how to strike the right balance — and being the best parent you can be. No parent is perfect, but love and caring can cover many mistakes.

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