Just like any parent, I get a lot of advice and inputs on how to parent my children. Some asked, some unasked. As a young mom, it is true that I need to learn how to discipline kids, what to feed them, how to potty train, and a whole list of “how-to’s”. And then I do what works best for me and for us as a family. I also want to be careful not to sacrifice the ultimate good of the family for the sake of immediate convenience. That doesn’t always mean I choose the perfect option. And I make mistakes along the way. Not just a few.
When I ignore or at least pretend like I ignore my three-year old’s screams for candy – especially when he is crying and pleading for more than two minutes or when he is really polite and says “please” again and again, I am not really sure I am doing the right thing. Should I rather let him have the candy? An occasional candy isn’t going to hurt anyone. On the other hand, isn’t this the way I teach him that he can’t have all that he wants?
I understand the value of spending time with kids. But do I sometimes overdo it, to the point that I don’t encourage independent play? We, as a family, try to limit screen time for the children. On the flip side, will my kids turn out to be slow in adopting electronic devices that their peers can operate with ease?
Is our late bedtime going to have adverse effects on my kids’ development, though they seem to be doing just fine? Just when I think I’ve got the right ‘discipline techniques’, someone tells me that’s not the way to do it.
And then it feels like parenting is like walking on a tight-rope, and it’s all about getting the perfect balance. Not too much of this, and not too much of that. The good news is, that’s not true! I can never achieve that perfect balance. Each family has different priorities that only makes sense for them.
But I found that it helps to get to the “why’s” of what we do. “Hmm, may be I should stop having structured activities for our children,” I, one day told my husband. “They are just little, and we should probably just let them do what they want.” Then, together we discussed why a structured day is important to our family at this stage.
One, it keeps us all sane. I tend to get ‘just a little bit crazy’ when there is no structure to the day. Then, proactively planning seems to take less effort than cleaning up the mess caused when our kids are allowed to do whatever they want to.
Moreover, I think each family and each individual is different, and so are our needs. Naturally, my ideals would be very different from yours. I am trying to be more aware of what is at the heart of what I do, rather than following a set of techniques. For me, knowing why I do what I do not only supplies the energy to keep going, but also gives me a sense of direction. I would encourage you to get to the why’s. That might just help somewhere!