Last night I went out for a child’s first birthday celebrations and, as expected, there were many expectant mothers and new parents too. New parents proudly holding their children while folks such as me were coochie-cooing their little ones.
Those tender years when your baby’s smile feels like a sparkle of heaven; his first step described in minute detail a hundred times over to any passer by; and his first sounds of “mama”, “dada” that is Beethoven’s symphony, parents are enwrapped in the magical world of the miracle they have brought forth.
Before you realise it, that little bundle of joy becomes a part of your “public identity” where his confident regurgitation of the alphabet expands your chest and his snatching a toy from another child makes you cringe and want to look the other way.
Of course, some children snatch toys more than others and that is when you begin to wish your child was the one you had always dreamt of. The one who would willingly share his toys, say good evening, be spotlessly clean at all times, smile and allow every aunt to pull his cheeks and land a lipstick kiss on his dimpled chin.
As your child grows and begins to develop into a little boy or girl, you as a parent slowly slide into parenting your child as if he was the dream child you had always wished for — the impeccably mannered prince or princess. And that is when you become ineffective as a parent.
When your continuous reminders fall on deaf ears, your threats to take away the gadgets are met with an indifferent shrug or your loving pleas are met with cold stares, you begin to feel the parenting reins slowly slide away, leaving you feeling helpless.
Only because you have been parenting your dream child.
Create a space for yourself as a parent where you are seeing your child for who he is, bundle of cuddles, throwing tantrums, answering back, failing his math exam (despite you heading the finance department), sharing his toys on most occasions and snatching them from others — yes, YOUR child, the one you have in front of you.
When you begin to SEE your child for who he is rather than what you DREAMT of, you will then be able to parent him from that reality and see how effective you become as a parent. When you begin to see your child from a space of non-judgment, acknowledging him as the gift he truly is, knowing that he is going to be his own person, yes with your values and morals imbibed but carving his own unique imprint in the world, that is when you will become an effective parent – from a space of reality allowing your child to pursue his own dreams.
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 www.athenalifecoaching.com