Our children are our future, our hope. We all want them to be good human beings and better citizens. However, with changing nature of our society many of us are worried. Positive parenting is at the core of raising responsible children.
Strong family, confident children
Parenting starts in the family; family is the first human institution and the essential building block of a society. A woman and a man together bring a new life on earth through a shared responsibility for themselves and for the new arrivals in the family. Mother and father complement their household tasks and endeavour to create a happy family with a creative learning atmosphere. It is a well known and age-old fact that a strong, stable and loving family produces confident and competent children with a positive outlook of life.
Being a parent is a heavy responsibility. The mother's share of the burden that starts with pregnancy is distinctly high; all cultures and religions have given mothers highest respect.
Raising children to grow as successful human beings is a noble task and serious business. In this endeavour both mother and father have mutual rights and responsibilities; a good balance between these rights and responsibilities may not be so easy, but this is the essence of marriage.
A family where a woman as wife and a man as husband take charge of their offspring has an obligation to give the little ones everything that is needed in life. The mother and the father often put their personal differences aside and give their best to the growing children. The home has always been the first school where children get a grip of their lives, before stepping outside into the harsh realities of the world.
Raising children consciously and passing on positive family and social values to the new generation is vital. Positive parenting is essentially a planned enterprise and a life-long commitment that starts from the moment a baby is conceived.
To people of faith parenting is a highly rewarding task; it is not only about children's achievements in the world but also about their success in the life to come. That is why in many religious traditions, such as Islam, children are a 'test' and a 'trust' and raising them properly is a religious obligation.
Compromise, but no compromise ...
The similarity that makes us humans and the differences that make us diverse is a wondrous beauty on earth. The rainbow nature in us makes our life enjoying, challenging and testing. We all have our individual needs and ambitions, as well as our egos; we also have our group needs and interests - as a family, as a community and as a society. My own feelings and instincts are very important to me; as yours are to you. But what do I do when my whims and desires clash with yours? Can I afford to stubbornly hold on to my own wish? In a family situation this can be disastrous; most families break up due to a lack of this basic understanding of 'give and take' between the couple.
The culture of compromise or finding a middle ground is at the core of two people coming together and forming a family. Family starts with two individual 'I' becoming one 'we'. This becomes vital when they start raising their children; synergy between parents is the key.
However, this does not mean there will be no disagreements, arguments or squabbles in life. Real life is full of challenges and family rows may be inevitable. It is also a fact of life that there are times when we cannot compromise on our principles. Once a couple plans to have children, this may come about on issues of career, household chores and other day-to-day issues. In situations like this the challenge is how we deal with differences in a civilised manner.
However, a family where relationship between the couple is based on love, compassion, respect and empathy these differences are resolved by the ethos of 'share and care'; with compromise becoming second nature differences may even solidify their relationship further. A pragmatic couple with positive attitudes towards life nurture warmth, affection and understanding; they are able to use the art of compromise to navigate through potential family turbulence. In fact, most couples become acutely sensitive to each other's likes and dislikes over time; they gradually learn how to avoid conflicts.
Human mind is complex and our feelings are varied. While conversing with our spouse on potentially sensitive issues we should always step back and think seriously what we want to achieve. How important really is the issue? Is something worth arguing for? Where does the success rate of a discussion fall on a scale of, say, 1 to 10? Once we hear a positive inner response from within us only then we should try to make our case in a nice manner. We should make sure we listen to our spouse attentively; proper listening is the testimony of respect and is a good remedy for family or social ills. We should think and approach the issue with empathy, 'putting my feet in my spouse's shoes', and then negotiate; no trick, no manipulation. There is only a win-win situation in a family.
There are simpler and better ways of handling compromise in a family - through the art of persuasion, negotiation or through a positive but pro-active dealing with our partners, and without any ill-feeling or aggression. No spouse has to walk on tightrope or become over-sensitive of each other. We should come to the table with honesty and discuss issues with an open mind.
Continuous quality time with our spouse, exchange of love and respect, one to one relaxed chats, eating or going out together and occasional open discussions or family sessions enhance understanding and deepens relationships.
A blissful family is what we need
Our journey of life is short and full of imperfection. We may start our life as idealists in our adolescence, but idealism often evaporates once we enter into our adulthood. We may get worn-out by our continuous struggle for survival, feeling that our life has probably lost its meaning, and even fall into the spiral of a 'mid-life crisis'. But human resilience most often wins and we stand up with real-life experience and more wisdom.
A blissful family with boundless love, care and respect is essential for children, especially in their early years to mid-teenage period. It is time we practice what we preach.