Does Being A Parent Have To Be So Difficult? Why?
The other day someone posed a question to me, "Why don't you want to have a second child?", to which I replied that "It is not easy to raise a child."
Nature gives us children who are dependent on us for years before they can feed, take care and cater to themselves. Human beings are the only mammals whose offsprings are dependent on their adult counterparts, to take care of them, for the longest period.
Recently there have been a lot of talks about parenting and the right ways of doing it. A few years back there were discussions around 'helicopter parenting' and how parents were overdoing the process of teaching and guiding their children.
From the time our kids are born we want to teach them and guide them to do the right thing, to become the right person. So much so that they seem to become more like a project that we have to accomplish, rather than another human being that we simply spend our life with. Ask most moms and they are happy when their kids go to school, or their grandparents for a few hours. Just because we are so tasked to teach them, it gets exhausting. Starting from teaching them to wake up on time, brush well, eat well, speak well, etc etc... When is it that we spend time with our children, without any of these thoughts in our minds? Just being with them at the moment, with no worry about what we have to teach them or what they are missing out on learning.
The brilliant scientist and author, Alison Gopnik, argues that what if all parents were meant to do was provide a safe space and ambience for babies and toddlers to learn themselves? What if in reality, parents weren't meant to be teaching their babies and toddlers at all, and the fact that these children are capable of learning just by watching us, imitating and experimenting on their own? We don't have to beat ourselves up and take it upon ourselves to teach them everything under the sun. The fact that they come about to learn the basics and more eventually, sooner or later, on their own.
That certainly relieves us off a lot of pressure, and for a day I thought I would try it out with my child and see where it leads. After all, what could he miss out on, in one day? That day came as a surprise to me, and I will spare you the pre assumptions by reading my experiences. I will leave it for you to witness and experience that day in your lives for yourselves.
I do not agree or disagree with this theory, but I do believe it is a possibility and some food for thought for all parents. Especially cause now with fewer children and nuclear families, we spend more time and energy concentrated on each child. Not only does it keep our attention drawn towards turning our children into a lifelong project, but I cannot even begin to think of the repercussions that it might have for our kids in the long run.
In having thought so, I consciously make an effort now to let my child be and learn on his own. Sometimes it's fascinating the way he manages to work things out for himself. But of course, there are other times, when I subconsciously end up teaching him to open the cap of that jar, instead of letting him figure it out on his own. A lot of times I just don't have the patience to wait for him to figure it out, other times I have, what all moms do, i.e 'time constraints. But even as I go through these moments, I give myself a constant reminder, "Trust him ! He can do it. He will figure it out. You do not need to intervene. Well not always !! ".
Apparently as per Gopnik, "Children's learning goes far beyond just listening to what their parents say or doing what their parents want."
We can only wonder what may be true in our children's lives.
I do not know which theory will practically prove to be right a decade or two from now. What I do know, at this moment is that every parent deserves moments, with their children, and these moments can't just be 'parts of our day'. They have to be 'our day'. And maybe someday we will be able to view parenting as not just a mix of challenges and joy, but as pure joy!