Role Reversal

Why we say “I will teach this to my child”. Why don’t we say “I will learn this from my child”. The changed mental state will create many interesting pattern to experience the child from a different lens.

We get lots of mails from parents, “I have problem with my child, learning problem, discipline problem, school problem, writing problem, eating problem, concentration problem, etc.”. What if the child could also write to us voicing his problem with his parents, “They do not understand me, they push me to perform, they do not accept me as an individual, they have double standards for children and adults, etc.”.

What if children could demand from the parents that they:
Should be good in public speaking.
Should be good in sports. Should take part in competitions.
Should come first in their offices.
Should have best personality.
Should be good in dance/ drama.
Should know how to play musical instrument.

Just as we want them to behave properly, can they ask us to behave properly? And if parents don’t do what child wants, can he label them as “problem parents?

It is common in social gatherings for parents to say, “He is so naughty” or “She is behaving unruly today”. Are we open to comments like this from children, “My father is being very mean” or “My mother is very lazy”?

A judge is a good judge if he remembers what its like to be a lawyer; a doctor is a good doctor if he remembers what its like to be a patient; a teacher would be good if she remembers what its like to be a student; and a parent is a good parent if she remembers what it is like to be a child!

Somehow when it comes to parenting we think we know (and are doing) the best for our child. We are so much involved in driving child through our wish that we refuse to accept the need of change in ourselves, learn more about parenting!

And one of the best ways to learn is to look back at our own childhood. It stands tall in teaching us how we felt, what we wished, loathed, enjoyed most! Perhaps we should one by one focus on all our negative and positive childhood moments and see how we can reduce the negatives in our children’s life.

One thing stands out clearly. We were forced to do so many things against our very nature. Eat what we did not like the taste of, study books that were horror, meet people whom we wanted to run away from, et al.

The moral of the story is that as parents we constantly swim upstream and achieve so less.

Here are few examples of upstream parenting:

A child who is very energetic – we as a parent will ask her to sit in a place and “behave properly”.

A child who does not want to talk to other – we as a parent will force her to go and talk to others.

A child who is good in logic – we as a parent will complain she is not good in drawing.

A child who is good in drawing – we as a parent will complain he is not good at reading.

Switch to downstream parenting, align with the child, and we can achieve so much more with our children. We want our children to excel in everything – but rarely we understand their personality and give them direction to excel as per their personality.

Let’s change over to downstream parenting, tune our approach as per her intelligence, as per her learning style, as per her thinking, as per what motivates her. What if we could use their strengths to improve on their weaknesses?

We expect our children to learn when we are not learning. Is the best way to inspire a child to learn swimming by sitting outside the pool giving orders or is it to get into the pool and learn with him. Perhaps we need to open ourselves to learning and change as parent. Let’s debunk the myth that we are naturally effective parents. Since we want to give best of everything to our children, let’s give them the best of parenting – which obviously means that we need to learn.

Wouldn’t it be great to create a learning environment in our house – where we as learners are role model? If child sees us constantly learning, yearning to become better, wouldn’t he want to learn more? If we think that after a certain age we do not need to learn, our kids might also think that they do not need to learn anymore.

Most parents deal with their children with the best of intentions, but not necessarily with the best actions.

Let’s use our childhood to understand our children and let’s learn to give them a better one.