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The balancing act

I am sure most of us parents want to raise well-behaved children and there are no two ways about it. Despite well-meaning intentions, we do go through the terrible phase of tantrums and wild antics along with our kids. It is considered quite normal that kids do misbehave in phases and not abide by the rules laid down. When you view the issue on hand at a micro-level- that is at the parent-child level- it becomes fairly simple to dole out solutions and employ them (maybe successfully too). However, when the same is viewed at a macro-level- that is as a society, where there are other kids to deal with too- the solution rarely ever works.

In my observation, we, as a society, do tend to favour mischievous kids over calmer and quiet kids. Deep down secretly, we wish our kids to do naughty things, so that we can proudly announce their (mis)conducts to others. The naughtiness is compared to Lord Krishna's antics and generally the behaviour is made light of. Yes, let us accept it. How many times have we gloated over the child's good behaviour when we are in public? By good behaviour I mean small things like, when the child shares his toys with others, keeps the woollen cap on when it is windy, doesn't run helter-skelter when the adult is talking to another adult. Yes, we are happy over these facts but don't necessarily make it public. On the other hand, when the child does the opposite, we like to relate the stories to people who may lend a ear, even if it is just to evoke empathy. Of course, when the naughtiness gives way to bratty-ness, we despair and we seek out ways to calm and sober down the child.

Kids, being kids, do not know the difference between being naughty and being a brat. A very thin line there which is crossed even before the parents can blink their eyes. Soon, the cute little naughty child metamorphoses into a tantrum throwing brat who knows how to get its way, anyway. When, at a particular phase of toddler years, the only constant word is "NO" (spoken by both parties), every issue faced is blown out of proportion; it is mostly a war-zone and both the parties end up exasperated and cranky. The more you try to control the situation, the more it threatens to get out of control. You end up doing all that is listed under the 'don't s' of good parenting.

The thin line of indulgence and going overboard with it needs to be tread on carefully each time (by the parents). The acts of the children are innocent but they pick up on our responses and reaction. The fact that we narrate their antics to others in their presence or smile indulgently when they repeat adult-talk because we find it endearing, acts as an encouraging sign. The signal sent to them is that they would get the required attention by doing this and will expect the same response by repeating the same act. There! we are trapped by our innocuous reactions and before we know it, we are on the path to rectify some grave damages.

Then, there are issues faced when you are a socially mingling lot. The right behaviour taught at home is put to test constantly when the child is with the peer-group. Since every parent deals with the terrible twos and threes differently and also because every kid is different, there is bound to be a disconnect when you compare a sample of kids from the same age-group. When a well-behaved kid comes in contact with a no-so-well behaved-one, the parenting skills get under the scanner and need to pass the test each time (for either set of parents).  With so many challenges, I wonder how some parents make parenting seem like a cake-walk, while the rest of us huff and puff our way through it!

Parenting  never assumed such a gargantuan role in the topics for debate before today. And, it has predictably become the most-stressed job for parents. The more anxious parents are to "get it right", the more stressful the role gets. Excited to-be parents, lay down the ground rules to bring up the unborn and wait anxiously to try out their manual of 'fool-proof' techniques on the kid. Only to realise that their kid turned out to be of a different brand, a manual for which, God forgot to send along. Then comes the trial and testing phase to discover which key fits the lock. Most times there are different keys to the same lock and sometimes there are no keys. Trust in yourself, absolute patience and will-power becomes the power-mantra. In a recent article by Vijay Nagaswami, he writes how and why, despite being indeed a stressful job, parenting needs to be enjoyed. Do read the article. I totally agree with the points he mentioned.

p.s. Also read Why French parents are superior? and let me know your views.


  1. Wow! now this is food for thought!! I can understand that thin line of difference between naughty and having a bad behaviour (Errr...I call R the would not use the word brat as such :) )

    Will get back to you on this one :)

  2. Uma, you must read this article.

    1. Aparna, yes, there can never be a child-rearing philosophy. what works for you, works for you. I started off a post keeping the article about the French in mind. I was never able to complete it, mulled over it for weeks. That's why I left the article link as a p.s. and didn't really write my views. I kept wondering about the utopian living where every french parent follows similar method of parenting. It is good to read, though :-)The vijay nagaswami article made more sense to me.

    2. Yup I thought the french parenting article was - maybe - over-generalizing to some extent. Not sure. But I thought a lot of what it said did make sense. The Vijat nagaswami article was a diff viewpoint but also insightful.

  3. That was an interesting read Uma. I had read that article in the Hindu too and wanted to write a similar post but life got in the way. glad to read this one :-)

    1. Glad you liked it and thought similarly, Aarathi :-)

  4. Very aptly written Uma! Got to learn something very imperative after reading this. :)

    When or rather if I turn into a parent, will sure remember this! ;)

    1. :-)thanks, Rachit! lol...theories and lessons vanish into thin air when you become a parent..all the best for when and if you become one!..:-D

  5. That's true.. Parents generally take pride in highlighting their kid's mischiefs... "Only to realise that their kid turned out to be of a different brand, a manual for which, God forgot to send along.".. LOL :D :D

    1. wish there was a manual, seriously! :-D))

  6. Interesting viewpoint Uma... I do agree especially that Krishna like behaviour has it's own charm ;).

    Thanks for sharing those articles, took me a while to read and digest though :). The French parenting one, I'm somewhat in agreement with, especially the part about parents(not necessarily American) not knowing to say "No" to their children! How to talk with authority and without screaming and manage to convince the child - I might have to go to France to learn that art ;).

    1. Though the French article did impress me, I have my share of questions. The article assumes that most of the children in France are well-behaved which in turn translates into most parents using the same parenting method. Now that's an utopian environment! then they don't have to deal with brats (of other people)..:-) But the Vijay Nagaswami article made more sense. whatever the case if you enjoy the parenting, even if you don't get it right, the growing up years for the child and for the parent will be enjoyable.


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