Conversations with young parents

It is a deliciously cold rainy morning in Coonoor as the parents of the St. Joseph’s fourth standard troop into the auditorium, looking just a little anxious. There is a slight trepidation often brought on by a visit to your child’s school, even when it is only to attend a start-of-term orientation programme.

We begin by patting ourselves on the back for taking on the tremendous task of parenthood and doing a fair job of it. We then take a few minutes to step into our children’s shoes and think of everything that the little ones want and need – from their parents and from life itself. Soon two lists emerge – one of what the child wants and needs and the other – although it hasn’t been asked for – of what the parents want from the child. One list reads love, nurturement, protection, friendship and a lot of time together. The other list reads obedience, respect, good behaviour, and great marks at school!

I ask the parents about what examples we are setting for the child –are we being respectful to her? There is a puzzled look on their faces.

‘No no Ma’m, they need to be respectful to their elders.’

‘Do we not need to be respectful to them? How will they learn what it is to be respectful unless they receive respect?’

Some of the parents nod, while others shake their heads in disagreement.

I then pull out the list of thing their children have told me about in an earlier session – citing their expectations from their parents. Sage wisdom from 9-year olds.

  • Don’t lie to me
  • Don’t compare me to my friends; they are good at some things but I am good at others
  • Don’t scold me in front of others
  • Play with me instead of watching TV all the time
  • Talk to me. I too want to know what is going on at home and how I can help

There is a shocked silence as they absorb what their children have told a stranger. Some look slightly abashed.

We speak of the way we treat our children – are we seeing them as kids who need discipline and ordering about, or as young adults who are as responsible as we expect them to be? Because how we see them, is who they will become.

What is the environment at home? Are there constant frictions among other members, often taking it out on the child? Or is it one of relaxed fun, doing things together?

When we attend a meeting in office we switch off our mobiles or put them on silent. Can we do that for a few hours at home when our chid is back from play and until she goes off to sleep? Keep everything else at bay and focus only on having fun with our child?

Can we ensure at least ten minutes of reading to her in bed till she nods off? Can we ensure we do not sit at the television watching our serials or the news, telling her to go and play with her toys because we would rather watch what happened to another family than laugh with our own?

The conversation goes on and parents come up with their troubles and worries. An indulgent father tells me, ‘I tell him not to take the cell phone but he doesn’t listen! I cannot help it. What to do?’

‘What if that was a loaded gun? Would you still say you cannot help it?’ He looks shocked.

I have promised them a magic mantra at the end of the session and they are waiting. A magic mantra that will give their children a cloak to protect them throughout their lives, whatever be their circumstances! “Is that possible Ma’m!” Yes, it is!

The session ends with sharing the magic mantra. Hold you child lovingly; hug her tightly and whisper in her ears, “I love you and you are the best!” Say it every day, when they wake up, when they go out of the house, when the return and when they go to bed. Slowly they will start to believe it themselves – that they are the best! Because, it is actually true!

That belief will create an impregnable armour of love and confidence around them – an unshakeable faith in themselves, which will see them through the most difficult of circumstances in their life.

Not just your child, say it to everyone you would like to gift this armour of confidence to. To everyone in your family – your spouse, your parents, your in-laws, your friends, brothers and sisters, the help in your home who cooks and cleans for you! Yes, it is possible. Say it and watch them transform!

We walk out of the hall shouting out to the skies “I love you and you are the best!”