Stress has become an integral part of our lives. Parents particularly are stressed out and frazzled!
Why? A parent has plenty to deal with- house work, office, targets, household staff, children, husband/wife, the whole family and friends who ridicule you for becoming ant-social due to lack of time and the constant stress of raising a child who is exposed to multifarious activities and also a successful one. To top it all it’s an age of wanting to do your finest, but it becomes a challenge when you have a tough and express way of life, like nowadays. Although parents do have more conveniences to support their lifestyles with the washing machine, the refrigerator, the microwave, school buses, technologies, house help, chauffeurs - but these come with their own share of nuisances!
As you realise now, one indeed needs to be a ‘super parent’ to be able to bring up a happy, confident kid and yet remain fit, sane and happy themselves. A little imbalance and it will throw a parent off, causing stress. So, what is the ‘stress’ in parenting? Well, there is the typical and common stress that is part of the role, such as homework, the school bus, the cold and cough, the stains and tears and all the office work on top of it all. But, that’s what every parent signed up for, isn’t it!
On the other hand, stress that parents need to watch out for and weed out is the ‘negative stress’. For this, parents need to remove ‘guilt’ from their parenting style. Guilt gives rise to an imbalance in the mind and forcing you to make wrong decisions unknowingly such as bribing and bartering with children or end up battering them.
The antidote for cognisant and wise parenting is to ‘keep the guilt and bad stress away’! How do we do that? It’s simple. Believe, enjoy and understand the hidden secret of parenting- The secret of the Navratnas of parenting.
The government of New Zealand has a policy document called Te Whariki, which has nine aspects that needs to be involved in the care, growth, nurturing and education of children. I have adapted these for parenting and called them the ‘Navratnas of Parenting’. Practise these and watch the stress of parenting dissolve into an art and parenting will be pleasurable not painful.
For Your Kids - Empower children by letting them to talk, discuss and logically argue. It is healthy, encourage it. Teaching them to keep quiet is only bottling their emotions.
For You - Parents should empower themselves first by not getting caught in mindless competition with other parents and then empower children with the confidence that I am with you, come what may. This will give children a sense of trust and abundance.
2. Holistic development
For Your Kids - Children need you to take care of their life skills and not only academic skills. They need, love, food, understanding, attention, patience, rules and sometimes a friend in you. When you are stressed about one, take a deep breath and focus on the other.
For You - Parents should focus on all needs. Their interactions with children should not only be limited to conversations about marks and exams. Be firm about food rules and sleep rules.
3. Family and community
For Your Kids - Family, neighbours, friends, teachers are all part of your child’s family and community. Let your child see you interacting with them, children learn from what they see, they imitate what you do.
For You - Involve family and community and take help when necessary. No grand parents? Well take a favour from a good neighbour and ask them to baby sit while you take a break. A good break rejuvenates the mind
For Your Kids - Your child will have a different relationship with siblings, grand parents, friends etc. Don’t define or control these. Don’t be the point of contact for your child, don’t micro manage your child’s relationships. When you do that you are inviting stress. Accept your child’s relationship with others. Don’t feel insecure if your child is closer to a grandparent or someone else. When a parent is secure, it brings a sense of security within a child.
For You - Parents must have good relations with each other and the family as this will reflect on the child. Nurture relationships. Family ties decide the emotional strength of an individual.
5. Well being
For your kids - Kids need to be safe and secure and should know that they can approach you about their fears. They should know that they will not be shouted at, ridiculed or laughed at about their fears.
For you - Your duty is not just to give them the latest, technology and fashion but also the safety and security of their overall well being. Look out for your child.
For Your Kids - When we belong, we care, when we care, we love and when we love, we can protect and defend and stand up for or fight for what we love. Let children belong to themselves first. Don’t try and control every emotion. Don’t micro-manage your kids. Give them the freedom to take decisions.
For You- Bring belonging in your parenting. Discuss with your spouse or partner, make decisions for your kids together. Never argue or differ in front of the kids, do it in private. Belong to your kids, even in rough times. Don’t give up on yourself or them.
For Your Kids - Teach children about what they can give and not only about what they can get. Consciously teach kids that contribution can be in the form of a smile, a hug or some help. It does not have to be a materialistic contribution.
For You- Don’t only contribute laptops or holidays abroad for your children. Contribute your time and effort, so that kids can have the right development and learning. Quality time can be just 20 minutes a day, spent fully focussed on your child, no distractions.
For Your Kids - Teach children that there are many ways to communicate their feelings and needs. Be open to your child’s way of communication, each child is unique. Teach your child which communication style will get your attention the most. Which means positive styles of communication will be nurtured in your child.
For You - Learn to laugh, smile, giggle tell stories, make gestures, wiggle your eyebrows, furrow your brow or hug. Learn ways to communicate with your child. Be a fun parent!
For your kids - Children are born explorers and they love exploring your limits! Set boundaries, set limits, but at the same time ensure that you give them choices too. This will help them explore their potential.