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A beautiful advice on Parenting

As Good friends and as someone more experienced than me in parenting, I asked Shantanu and Rekha to share some parenting wisdom with me. We keep discussing various aspects of parenting from time to time but one beautiful advice that they gave which stayed with me and has really helped me so far was this. They said, “A lot of issues can be solved if only we can treat a child like an adult and an oldman/woman like a child.”

I’ve time tested this advice and trust me it passes all the tests. Unfortunately, most parents don’t do this. Most parents don’t buy this. They feel child is some special creature who needs a totally different kind of handling. How can we behave with them as adults ? It’s so common that you’d come up scenarios where child is treated as someone totally unintelligent and lacking sense. Parents can’t believe that child is also sensible and intelligent. They are. In most cases, far more than the parents.

Devagya, my elder son had developed a habit of drinking milk before going to sleep. No milk , no sleep. While at the farm, we had access to organic farm milk so it was a non-issue. Few months back we were to travel for leisure. Now, the challenge was either give the child milk of unknown origin and quality or don’t give milk at all. The former was not our preference at all but the later appeared too difficult. How would he sleep then ? What if he gets irritated and angry ? Me and my wife Priyamvada, we both were nervous.

We received many suggestions like add something bitter tasting to milk so that he will not ask for it again, give something else that looks like milk, just tell him that milk has been taken away by the devil and if he demands milk, devil will come back. The list went on. We decided to stick to the beautiful suggestion. What would you do in a situation like this with an adult ? Funny it may sound, we shared our challenge with our two year old. We explained to him that we are going to travel and it will be a lot of fun but at the same time there will be few challenges, milk being one of them. We explained to him that although milk is available everywhere we are not sure of its quality so we don’t want him to drink it. We did exactly what we would do to an adult. No deceptions, no lying, no playing around.

The day came, we were travelling and it was time to sleep without milk. Nervous, we approached the bed and before we could say anything, Devagya explains - “Gagga Mam Mam nahi hai, yaha ganda milta hai, ghar jayenge , gagga mam mam milega”. ( Gagga Mam Mam (literal translation is Cow’s water) is what he calls milk.) He said, “Milk is not available, I know it’s bad milk here - once we go back , I will get milk.” Ofcourse, he didn’t immediately sleep after that. His habit kicked back in sometime and he demanded it again. But when we reminded him, he was calmed. He did cry a bit , got irritated a bit but within a day or two , the habit disappeared. The dependency of sleep on milk , disappeared.

There are many such instances. The point is children are no different than us. There is no need to lie to them, deceive them, tell them unnecessary funny stories about tooth fairy or devils. Just treat them like adults.

Treating a child like an adult also means respecting his time, space, individuality , decisions, opinions, choices like we do with adults. Many adults think it’s absolutely okay to insult a child, tease a child by funny faces or names.

Afterall , he’s just a child. No ! She is not just a child. He is in an individual in making. She is an evolving adult. Children deserve to be treated as complete and intelligent beings.

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