Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Are We Raising Our Kids To Face Life?

Delia attended a convent school and her anxious parents never sent her anywhere alone.  Then Delia reached the age of eighteen and passed out of school and qualified to enter the University. Now came the big problem. She had to find out the bus routes by herself and she was afraid to venture out alone.

In time, Delia became a wife and a mother.  She realized that her parents, with the best of intentions, had not prepared her to face the challenges of life.  So she made up her mind to bring up her daughter in a different way, not shielding her from reality.
Delia’s daughter Sonali turned two and she realized that the child preferred the company of other children in preference to staying with her mother.   So she began to look around for a play group for the pre-school refused to admit her until she was two and a half.
At the age of five, Sonali qualified to enter the Big School.  Delia realized that the child was afraid of the big buildings and took her to see other buildings to make her feel comfortable. In the pre-school, she had already prepared the child by taking her one day on the matslide and bringing her home.  The next day, Delia introduced the teacher to the little girl and then brought her home.  The following day, she had left the child in the classroom but remained within sight.  Thus gradually, she introduced the child to school so the child did not cry and develop a dislike for studies.
Delia fell ill and her daughter Sonali had to go hungry because her mother had not taught her even to boil an egg.  So Delia taught her eight year old daughter not to be afraid of fire and trained her to use the gas cooker.  Sonali would watch the cookery demonstrations on television and pretend to her mother that she was a gourmet cook.  It was part play and part serious.
There were times when Delia wanted to do everything for her little girl but she forced herself to stop.
Delia had read Counsellor John Bradshaw’s book “The Family” which was a New York Times bestseller. The author has worked for over twenty years as a counsellor, a theologian, a management consultant and a public speaker.  He has also conducted a television series.  In the book he says, “The family system has components, chief of which is the Marriage.  When the Marriage has an intimacy dysfunction, the system’s dynamic energy pushes the children to redress the balance and maintain equilibrium. Thus we find Mama’s Little Man and Daddy’s Little Princess.”   Thus the children become more important than the partner.
Let’s face it…most of us are guilty of spoiling our children.  But then little ones are so appealing and so vulnerable!  Yet as they grow older, we need to give them space to breathe and develop their individual personalities.  If we let go of them gradually, it won’t be painful and there need be no “Empty Nest Syndrome” when adult children finally leave home.
Haren was ten years old when he received an invitation to spend the day at his friend’s house in the adjoining road.  At first, his protective mother Laura wanted to escort him there.  After all, hadn’t she taken him to school and back and to swimming and tennis classes?  But she decided to ask Haren what he wanted to do.  Haren opted to go alone, saying he was old enough.  Laura sighed and stifled her over-protective maternal instinct.  She led Haren out of the house and then watched with a heavy heart as he set off on his adventure.  He walked smartly away and turned to wave to his Mum before he turned the corner for she had asked him for a wave.
Malini was the fourth child in the family and no-one took much notice of her.  She remembered coming to table and listening to her father complaining about the food even though there was an array of tempting dishes on the table.  Later on, when Malini married and became a mother, she realized that her father’s fussy eating habits came from the fact that he himself had never cooked.  So she decided to teach her son to cook and be comfortable in the kitchen.  So the little boy washed beans and tomatoes, standing on a stool.  When he grew older, she allowed him to roll out the pastry for patties and to make funny shapes.  Thus Malini de-mystified the kitchen for her boy.
Most of us bring up our children the way we were brought up and we don’t think that it requires intelligence. Mothers cannot do it alone and fathers can share their office cares, simplifying the language to suit the age of the child, and prepare their children to face a harsh and lonely world.  Girls and boys need not be brought up differently for even a girl has to be strong especially if she becomes a mother.  Men and women need not be afraid of each other and mutual respect is the answer. By Sirohmi Gunesekera - DM