Children, especially those in their preteen and teen years, are forming their own identities away from their parents and it is normal for them to choose hanging out more with their ‘cool’ friends rather than be at home with gadgets. Living the privileged and slightly more materialistic expat life, children — for no fault of their own — are either too busy chasing academic or other goals that family traditions and customs take a back seat during the rest of the year.
School holidays and the festive season are in full swing, and this is the perfect time to strengthen family bonds. With grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins visiting at this special time of the year it is an important time to deepen and strengthen ties. In many cases children are at a loss on how to manage these family times and find it rather embarrassing if they are seen with ageing grandparents or not-so-modern relatives.
As parents, you need to be more mindful of speaking to your child in advance of the impending visits and get them together time, especially using the gorgeous weather at this time of the year. Move away from the usual mall runs to lazing in parks, soaking up the sun on the beach and spending time having family discussions over meals, to truly getting to know the extended family.
As role-models, parents, this is the time for you to show respect, care and inclusion of your ageing parents. I know many who wish they weren’t being ‘burdened’ by this extra pressure in the festive season and want their own me time. Remember when you keep your ageing parents at a distance; your time to age is not that far away. What you sow now is what you will reap in the years to come.
Don’t forget you are the role model for the child. Show humility and respect while dealing with visiting relatives. What your child is seeing are gnarled hands, outdated clothes and, at times, language barriers. Not everyone has had a privileged education or opportunity to travel the world, however that does not make them less in anyway. Show pride in being the child of your parents, sharing stories with your children of the hardships and victories from their life. You have to shoulder the responsibility of bridging the gap between the new and the old by creating an environment of respect and inclusion, deepening family values and creating memories for a lifetime.
Wishing all of you a happy new year ahead, may there be more joy and love in your family!
This is an interactive column on parenting skills and child behaviour. If you have a query, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
— Sunaina Vohra is a certified Youth and Family Life Coach at Athena Life Coaching in Dubai. For more information log on to athenalifecoaching.com or call 056-1399033.