Headline: Leaving your child is tough, especially if he’s young
Parents do feel guilty, not necessarily the father but I think the mother feels the guilt, because I feel mothers are a lot more connected to the child. Even if she is in a different room, she won’t be able to get the baby out of her mind. Secondly, my personal perspective is that fathers want the baby to be free, not bound to parents all the time. A father would normally want the baby to mix with other people as well. After the first few days, it is okay for parents to take a break and to leave the baby for a couple of hours with the grandparents. Apart from the grandparents, I think one can only trust other family members or close friends.
Our son is a month old now and I have learnt a lot of patience and discipline in this time. Earlier, I used to be a little lazy. I didn’t have the discipline at home. Once the baby came, we had to automatically adjust according to the baby’s timings.
We are slowly striking the balance between taking care of the baby and taking care of ourselves. I, my wife and my mother take turns taking care of the baby. My duty is during the night, so I take care of the baby completely from 1am to around 4 or 5am. Once my time is completed, I hand the baby over to my mum or wife but I arrange the things the baby needs - like his bottle of milk or diapers. Because when you are taking care of the baby, he needs your full attention. Multitasking is definitely not encouraged or possible at this point in time.
Sometimes we feel guilty when our child might be crying and inconsolable. At certain points, he might cry for five or ten minutes. I can see my wife crying but I have to be strong and talk to her about how sometimes it’s not because of pain, it is just due to some inconvenience the child might be feeling. I ask her to leave and just spend some time to calm herself down and relax.
But taking time out is absolutely important. When we get some thing with ease, we don’t value it. The same applies to the time we spend.
From Mr Udaykumar Murthy
Marketing consultant and father of a one-month old boy living in Dubai
Kicker: Moment of sanity
Headline: A happier parent is a better parent
Every day I manage to take one hour of me-time, whether it is meditation, jogging, yoga or just taking a batch in some quiet and peace. I manage to take that one hour of peace and you need that to recharge your energy. To be a better parent you have to take care of yourself before you take care of others and parenting is highly demanding both on an emotional and physical basis. You have to realise that you are taking care of this beautiful individual to be there and be in the moment you have to be that amazing parent and to be able to give the necessary emotional support, love and care.
You wake up and life throws these challenges at you and no matter how much you want to manage your time and schedule, things come up. You could have a situation at work that requires more of your time or maybe a water leak at home. Life is unpredictable, I guess that’s the beauty of it. But no matter what comes your way, if you have missed that moment on a particular day, make up for it the next day. You have to have that half an hour or one hour to zone out for a bit and focus on you.
It is normal for us to take time off and enjoying that moment of sanity is so important because it helps you recharge not just to be a parent but a better self. With being a working mum, wife, sister and friend there is so much already on your table. As human beings we have to disconnect.
I recently read a wonderful quote: “You can’t pour out of an empty cup”. You get so busy with day-to-day life that you tend to neglect yourself. Sure, we do it out of love – you love your family and your work, but you need to first love yourself.
The key to success is balance and I know finding balance is almost impossible but it is what we strive for. It is impossible to achieve perfect balance but because I strive for it at the end of the day, I know that I have given my family, friends and work my time and I have also found time for myself.
When you are happy then you can reflect that happiness on your child. You are a lot more relaxed and a lot more patient and parenting requires a lot of patience. Otherwise, you are so exhausted by the end of the day. Taking time out helps you centre yourself and allows you to be a better parent in the days to come.
Jumana Al Darwish
Entrepreneur and mother of a five year old girl living in Dubai
Kicker: Respect space
Headline: Helicopter parenting makes parenting a chore
Parenting is a highly demanding activity. Helicopter parenting, wherein the parents constantly monitor their children, can be seen as over controlling and over-protecting in itself. This can be applied to parenting of a toddler or a primary or secondary school child. Parents are constantly vigilant of a toddler’s activity, their milestones and how they explore the world around them. This can make things worse by constantly supervising the child and not allowing any alone time for children to explore and learn from others’ behaviours. When it comes to school children, parents may contact teachers constantly, which in turn could undermine the self-esteem and confidence of the child. In fact, this might look like a daily chore and effect the quality of life of parents, which in turn might impact the overall harmony of the family. Parents tend to do this for a number of reasons like fear of consequences, anxiety or peer comparison. This makes parenting a daily chore as they internally feel obliged to react to very situation and behaviour a child is involved in.
Sometimes, parents do not have enough control on their own schedules to manage their commitments. This could be due to their nature of work or having too many items on their agenda. This situation is not healthy for the parents or for the children involved. We have significant research evidence to prove that lifestyle changes are very important to maintain work-life balance and to avoid stress, burnout and further mental health issues like anxiety, depression and adjustment disorder. It is obvious that this would impact the level of care and commitment such parents can offer their children.
As a parent, our jobs are very difficult. On one hand, we need to keep an eye on their strengths and their level of enjoyment in life and how they perceive it. It requires regular catch up and observation and may not help with constant supervision. On the other hand, we also need to focus on their stressors, pressure from education and ability to cope with the situation emotionally. This requires a good balance of management of schedule and an active observation of children’s development, education and emotional wellbeing. If this is not managed well it might have an impact on their ability to cope with pressure. I have clients who are currently going through stress, anxiety and burn out from their profession and work commitments leading to a range of mental health issues due to lack of coping mechanisms and distraction strategies. There is a definite mismatch of work-life balance here. Needless to say, it affects the quality of life of such a parent and their family.
From Dr Shankar Srinivas Kuchibatla
Medical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist working in Dubai
Headline: Not having time is not a good enough excuse
I always have time for myself. I am into cycling and always find time to go out and refresh myself. I want to spend time in a secluded place to relax.
I also gave my children that freedom – my daughter is 26 years old now and my son is 12. I did not give instructions on everything, they had a free hand to explore their surroundings when they were growing up. Even when they might be doing something that I might not completely agree with, I have to accept it in order for them to learn something in life. My parents were not too strict with us, yet we ended up becoming disciplined eventually.
When children are growing up, even when you tell them to do something when they are at home, they say yes. But when they are outside, they are not in your control. And it helps now when I see that my daughter realises what is good and what isn’t. She is imitating our way of living. She also started to find time for herself, to be relaxed and happy. This is what I do, and I think parents should always reward themselves with free time. It is not always about working hard, don’t forget yourself. Some parents might say they don’t have enough time, but that is not a good excuse.
If you constantly tell them to do something and they prefer to do things another way, they wouldn’t come to you for advice. They would be too afraid to approach you. When you give them the space, you will suddenly realise that they are also spending their lives the way you spent yours. Eventually, you will be the example; you are the parent. It is not other people who affect your children as much, 90 per cent of influence will be you after all. When they are growing up, sure they have problems with social life but, eventually, when they grow up they will live up to the example you set.
From Mr Noel Malicdem
Design architect and father of two living in Dubai
— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor
Gulf News asked: As a parent, are you able to have alone time?