Parenting is a tough job. Anyone who is a parent knows this very well. Children don't come with instruction manual. We learn as we raise them each day. Some rules work, some don't and we keep guessing whether we did the right thing or not. At no point, we can think we have learnt enough as a parent. It is a learning process throughout our life as a parent. Here are some things that I did as a parent which worked well for me.
1. Allowed them to make mistakes and learn from it. Unlike the previous generations where we were not allowed to make mistakes, I took a different turn and allowed my children to make mistakes and instead of making them feel guilt, I let them learn their own lessons. It did take a lot of patience and courage to implement but the results were amazing. I let them fail in their tasks, let them deal with breakup from friends; let them deal with difficult situations. I just allowed it to happen without interfering, just to let them understand the situation and learn the valuable lessons themselves. These lessons will stay in their mind forever. I did support and guide them before and throughout the process to make sure they are fine.
2. Taught them not to be perfect or focus on perfection. If we focus on being perfect, we are always stressed and we cannot enjoy life but if we focus on enjoying life, everything else automatically becomes perfect and, after all, life is not a race to be the best at all the times. If my kids made mess in the kitchen I laughed at it. What is the use of getting angry and feeling tired and making them feel demoralised? Instead, clean up together, laugh at it, and begin again. Eventually, we did successfully make delicious dishes together. By doing this, they know that mistakes happen but we need to move on quickly and that there is always a second chance to do better. We can save a lot of mental energy to do the task later.
3. Let them take decisions. One of the most crucial skills in life is to learn to take good decisions. A decision changes our life forever but if we have not learnt to take good decisions from childhood we find it hard to make decision later in our lives. Allowing the kids to choose their profession, choose their school/college and friends are some of the important decisions that we have to let them make and allow them to face the consequences. First, we have to teach them how to make right decision and then let them do it independently. Of course, we have to support and guide them if they have made mistakes but letting them take their own decisions is most crucial. We have to start by letting them choose their own clothes, food, ice cream flavour etc. and let them see the result by comparing their choice and exploring the different options. Eventually, they do learn to evaluate their decisions and take proper decision. As a parent we also have to be prepared to face consequences if their decisions go wrong but in the long run their right decisions will make them independent.
4. I allowed them to have their own opinion about everything. Letting the child speak their mind makes them confident individual and it also makes them feel valued and respected. Unlike previous generations when kids have to do something 'because I said so principle', I let my kids have their own opinion. When they speak their mind, we can correct them if they are wrong or let them see the different side of the story but not letting them have their own opinion, we crush their self-confidence and in future they will simply follow whatever someone else believes and never understand what the reality is.
5. I shared my own weakness and mistakes. Children always think that parents are perfect and parents are natural role model for them. This creates difficult situation especially if parents have to be perfect at all the times, things gets complicated and stressful. Also, children think that parents can never make mistake so they expect everything to be perfect which is damaging to our relationship. By admitting our own mistake, I could lift the pressure to be perfect and allow them to learn from mistakes rather than feeling sad and guilty about it.
6. Taught basic life skills irrespective of gender. I taught my son how to cook right from the childhood. By teaching basic life skills, we ensure the child will not feel lost in the world when he/she leaves the house for further education or work. Some parents don't let the children do any household chores and later worry about them when they leave home for higher education. By teaching them that the household chores are important and everyone needs to learn, we ensure they will be able to take care of themselves when we are not around.
7. Trusted them. Trust is very important when it comes to children. If we trust them, they hardly break it. It is difficult in today's world but it is the only way we can live peacefully. Having trust in them that they can do better in their field, actually empowers them to trust themselves and they really do better. Also, having trust in them makes them more confident and independent later in life when they will face more challenging situations.
8. Taught independence. Independence is important for children to feel confident. A dependent child is helpless child. While it is very comforting when children run around us and we feel good when they want us to be with them at all the times but it is not practical. One day they will have to find their own identity and make mark in the world. Also, emotionally dependent child will find it hard to accommodate in the world. Independence is basic skill that we all need in order to feel confident and happy. So instilling it since childhood is not only important but crucial.
We all learn different things each day as parent and it is surprising how much more is still to learn. By keeping our mind open and exploring different options and ideas we can find parenting enjoyable and not stressful.