Mother or Father? – Both!

So are you his Dad? No. I am his mom and dad.

This in itself is an achievement. To be a single parent and try and fulfill duties of both parents is not easy; and to top it all, there’s the unpleasantness one receives from the society. What for though? For solely doing what two people together sometimes find it hard to do? For shuffling between a million things alone to make sure their child smiles? Shouldn’t our society be changing towards normal existence and acceptance of single parents and their kids?

As described by a parent in the article, it’s appalling as to why essays in schools about family talk only about joint families and nuclear families; single parents are left out of the frame. Single parents and their kids can constitute happy families too. Whether it’s out of choice or not, being a single parent comes with its own set of obstacles at every phase in life – from infancy to adolescence; at home or at school. And a supportive society would only help in normalizing it for the kids as well as for outsiders.

Having said that, it’s a fact that kids adapt to circumstances quicker than adults and grow up to feel just like any other child from other families. It’s the whole taboo around single parenthood that makes the child feel “different” or less privileged. Up until then, the child sees his single parent as a parent – a mom/dad or both. When we change the term “parent” to “single parent” we are attaching a tone of negativity for the child. However hard it is for the parent, it’s important to shield the child from discrimination of any kind because of something as basic as being raised by one parent.

And I say basic, because it’s a part of life. Everyone can’t be the same; everyone’s situations can’t be the same. And a different situation doesn’t equate to a “bad” situation. However, there are struggles at every phase when one is bringing up a child alone. For some, lack of support from the family could act as a hurdle and for some, lack of financial support could cause hindrance in the upbringing; and for some, the choice between a good cop and a bad cop could be daunting. But all parents unanimously agree that the rewards come and how!

Furthermore, it’s heartwarming to see people choosing to have kids or bring up kids without mandatorily attaching marriage to it. Their priorities are bringing up their children against all odds and as a society it’s time we respect that choice and normalize it in our minds. Once that’s done, hopefully our school essays will soon include the heroes of parenthood too!

This blog is based on the article –

Deccan Herald Living page 1 – 28th August 2018 – Whole & Sole Parents – http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com.

 

Advertisements

Redefining Freedom

We read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice in the notion of freedom, teach, advocate, and hope for freedom, but what do we mean by freedom?

Freedom means many things to many people. We can view freedom politically, as having the opportunity to vote for particular people or parties which best represent our views. Closely tied to this is the notion of freedom of speech, where one has the liberty to voice their personal opinion or perspective. Others understand freedom in a financial context, where people seek to free themselves of financial debt, outstanding credit, and burdensome loans.

It could be the joy of waking up to a sunset or the bitter-sweet joy of watching the sun go down. It could mean a walk in the park or an hour of yoga. It could mean an evening out with friends or a day without the phone. It could mean a holiday or a shopping spree.

And as you visualize each of these actions, we realize freedom is not about what we do, but how we feel while doing it, it’s about the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. It’s letting go, letting loose and basically breaking free of any shackles. Freedom is a feeling, not an action. It’s time we all identify our definitions of freedom to really experience it and to keep practicing it.

On a personal level it’s easier to find freedom because there is only one person who can help you achieve that – you! But what about freedom in the society? In our country? Why our mind still remains so heavily conditioned after so many millions of years? The mind is conditioned by society with its cultures, laws, religious sanctions, economic pressures and so on.

Freedom is when one can walk “freely” on the streets, feeling exactly how one would feel while running in the park. Freedom is being able to express one’s thoughts without worrying about the consequences. Freedom is not having to change yourself to “fit” into another family or group. Freedom is being able to live your life the way you want irrespective of gender, caste, marital status etc. Freedom is independence to think for oneself clearly and not to act according to the dictates of society.

And when we look at it that way, it makes us wonder if we really have achieved freedom. We may have won battles against outsiders, but we have so many to win against our very own people, our mindsets and oh all those stereotypes.

Our brave soldiers sacrificed their lives and brought freedom to our country, hoping to see a strong, free country. But we only gained freedom from the British rule but we are still under the rule of our past; past ideas, notions, values and beliefs. Maybe it’s time we all join the army and help in truly making the country a free country. And a free country starts with a free mind. The mind is, after all, the result of the past, and this past is tradition. Let’s move on to a free future. Let’s start by letting people around us live. The “live and let live” begins at home. With your children, with your spouse, with your friends. And then hopefully the country will catch up and one day we’ll celebrate the true meaning of independence.

This blog is based on the following article –

https://www.deccanherald.com/content/563982/finding-freedom.html

 

Kids, happy independence day – everyday!

Freedom can mean different things to different people. And often giving freedom to children is something all parents hold back from doing. Be it with regard to going out alone, or letting them handle money or even simple things like letting them choose clothes. But at the end of the day, all parents want independent adults. Now if as children they have never tasted freedom and learnt to make choices, how would they turn into independent adults?

Freedom and independence are crucial topics when it comes to parenting and we need to question ourselves – what kind of parent am I? A lighthouse or a helicopter? One is a beacon of light from afar that ensures guidance when required. And the latter, is something hovering over your child day in and day out, offering guidance for sure, but also dragging along a sense of annoyance.

US pediatrician Dr Kenneth Ginsburg, author of Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust has coined the term ‘lighthouse parenting’ to describe the tricky balance between protectiveness and permissiveness. We must make certain they don’t crash against the rocks, but trust they have the capacity to learn to ride the waves on their own.

As parents we feel it’s our job to do things for them. Pick clothes for them, serve food to them, clean up, follow up with their school work, keep an eye on their friends and the list continues. While it is natural and necessary to be protective of them, we need to understand that if we do everything for them, we are only making them weaker and more dependent.

They need to take responsibility for their own actions and if that begins at a young age, the more independent they become.

Independent children feel competent and capable of taking care of themselves. Under their parent’s watchful eye, children are able to grow, flourish at their various stages of growth and development, and are more confident in being who they are.

Here are a few simple tips on how to encourage independence in our children –

  • Stop doing everything for them

From picking clothes for them or deciding what they will eat; stop doing it for them. Instead of deciding on their behalf, start giving them choices to pick from. Instead of doing things for them, teach them to do it. Instead of speaking on their behalf, encourage them to have and voice their own opinions, even on little matters. Let them pick what they want to do in their free time or pick books they want to read. It’s time we stop putting the books in front of them and asking them to read them.

  • Give them responsibilities

Since everybody is living under the same roof and are making messes, everyone should be responsible for keeping the home clean. Chores will undoubtedly help teach your child valuable life skills, the value of hard work, responsibility, and respect for themselves and others. One day, your children will grow into healthy adults. And, when they do, they need to have basic life skills which include things such as cooking skills, laundry skills, money managing skills, banking skills, and the ability to follow through. Having this type of knowledge will help them grow into independent adults as well.

  • Show confidence

Acknowledge when they make their own decisions or fulfill tasks. And this starts right from when a toddler learns to wash their hands on their own. A thumbs-up can go a long way in building independent adults. Because when they have confidence in their own actions and decisions, they wouldn’t mind doing things alone.

  • Let them make mistakes

A parent’s biggest fear is that their child will make mistakes, experience failure and get hurt in the process. But in the long run, it’s inevitable and at some level, it’s essential that they make mistakes, fall and learn to get up. A typical helicopter parent is flying over kids to ensure they pick them up before they even fall. But it’s important they learn to have conflicts and resolve them too. Because they always learn better if they experience it rather than have it preached to them by their parents.

But the thing is, children need to be on their own—when it’s safe and the time is right. To figure things out for themselves. To find solutions to challenges. To make decisions about the kind of human being they’re going to be. To establish their own friendships- Without us. We are doing our children a great service by giving them a taste of freedom. Letting them run errands. Letting them be independent.

So, go ahead and let go. In the end, your kids will pleasantly surprise you. They will flourish and grow as people. You’ll see.