My mother once told me, “Who learns parenting! It’s an instinctive skill and not a learnt art. I brought you up and three kids, and you are all doing just fine.”
Mum was brought up with a thought that she has to take up home science as a subject, learn to cook well, keep the house clean and take care of her children. When I was growing up, I was always told girls are no less than boys, stand on their own feet and earn by themselves. In that sense, they could do anything.
I believed in those words completely and immersed myself in studies. After completing my B. Tech and MBA with flying colours, I took up a job. I always thought this was my dream — of being financially independent and pursuing a successful career. Just when I had started to enjoy my independence, society made sure I acknowledged its stereotype; the ticking of my biological clock.
Marriage-the ultimate truth of life
I was busy building my career, And the concept of marriage, with its more mundane responsibilities such as cooking and rearing children, were never discussed with me. Not because my parents were the type to get me married off to whomsoever they wished. No, not at all!
On the contrary they assumed that marriage and motherhood were a natural instinct for all women. I mean, who talks and teaches their daughter about getting married and starting a family.
And so it was that I got married, and the time came when I was blessed with a beautiful daughter. Like it was with marriage, it was assumed that my natural motherly instincts would set in, and I would be the ideal mother.
But then parenthood didn’t come to me naturally. I was afraid of being a mother. My identity suddenly changed from being a career-oriented woman to being someone’s mother. I honestly felt lost amid this transformation. I was struggling every day to find myself back. Needless to mention, I was not enjoying being a mother at all.
Challenges of being a mother
Being a mother was confusing for me and I nervously toyed with the question: Why weren’t my motherly skills oozing out instinctively? Days passed by in introspection and I realised that I needed to learn this art like any other womanly skill of cooking, knitting, and the like. I dwelled deep into the understanding of parenting, and wondered how we should raise resilient children in this digital age.
The more I read about it, the more I started to understand how many mistakes I had committed in this journey. I realised I had been trying to compare myself with other mothers, and my child with other children. I was actually in the race of motherhood; the type that was showcased on social media.
I was desperately trying to make my child the ideal child. She had to be always dressed to perfection and needed to have the latest toys. I was forever buying things that were suggested on social media for her brain and skill development. Every milestone needed to be tracked on trending apps. Alongside, I was fighting another battle — measuring my waist every day to fit into the category of cool moms.
The beautiful art of gentle parenting
My research and endeavours soon paid off. I learnt that parenthood goes beyond perfection; it is a skill that is polished by learning it every day. We can, of course, parent the way our parents brought us up. After all, we were brought up with the best intentions. Sadly, the world in which we grew up, and the world in which our children are growing up, are at tangents and can never meet.
In this over-achievement driven society, meaningful relationships don’t exist and depression is at its peak with suicide and divorce rates becoming far too common. It is, therefore, extremely important that we bring up emotionally resilient children.
These days, children are forever exposed to digital media and developing a love for nature is losing its charm. To be able to cope with today’s times, we need to bring up more sexually aware children.
Amid rampant confusion and distraction, we need to bring up focused children who are strong decision makers. To put it precisely, uncertainty is the only certainty, and we need to raise adaptive children.
Adapting to a new era of parenting
They say change is the only constant. We keep changing our wardrobes as per the latest fashion trends, and have even modernised our culture in so many ways. Against this backdrop, why do we not adopt modern ways of positive parenting?
It is time we understand that children are not our possessions or trophies; we don’t own them. They are like beautiful flowers, and we are the gardeners. We give them love to grow, values to be rooted, boundaries to make right choices, and some gusty winds of mistakes to make them resilient. Our job as a parent is to sit back, relax and let them grow in their own beauty. Let’s help them find their own sunshine and only then can we witness the magic that every child has within.
Parenting is an art — it is a journey that needs lots of patience, hard work and consistency. We are bound to find many roadblocks on the way, but we must treat them as building blocks along our path. Let’s learn to parent the way present times demand, rather than parenting the way we, or the generations before us, were parented.