She is ambitious, assertive, technology-driven and focused on work life balance. The world is open to her with its vast possibilities and today she has the opportunity to self-actualize, thrive and reach for her true potential. Her life is no longer pre-determined by society, by the family, class or circumstances she was born into. She can be the author of her own life, if and whenever she chooses to be.
But what if she is also a MOM?! And that creates a new set of problems! Overwhelmed and excited with all the freedom and choices, she is sometimes confused as motherhood for her isn’t as simple as it was for her sisters before her. Parenting has been a challenge since the beginning of times, but as societal norms become more complex due to scientific and technological advancements, our parenting styles have got far removed to say the least, from our evolutionary roots.
Remember Pebbles and Bam Bam? Much of the prehistoric parenting style was directly related to survival against the wild animals and forces of nature that could wipe out an entire extended family in one sitting. This, however, resulted in some best practices for child-rearing according to modern psychologists. Breast-feeding was the only option for the infant, as was community living and hours of exploration and unstructured play. And the little Pebbles and Bam-Bams of that Paleolithic period probably had multiple caregivers who provided nurturing and love. As evolution took its natural course, we morphed from hunters/gatherers, clubs in hand, to smart-phone wielding, multi-tasking millennials, who many a times forget their pivotal role as a parent. “But that’s the price of an industrialized society,” says anthropologist McKenna. “Teaching parents how to love their children isn’t something that we ever thought we would have to teach,” he says.
In a survey women were asked to compare challenges today to those that their parents faced. Do parents today have it easier than their parents? The answer is a resounding “no” as 74 percent find parenting more challenging today. Top ten parenting challenges that came up:
- Finding enough time in the day to balance motherhood and career
- Knowing how to effectively discipline the child
- Allowing children to develop independence in an insecure world
- Bearing the cost of child raising
- Being a single parent and/or not having enough support
- Ensuring children receive quality education
- Having unrealistic expectations about children
- Dealing with daily home routines like bedtime, bath time hassles.
- Avoiding consumerism in today’s consumer-centric society
- Guarding children against negative technology influences
This list of challenges is by no means comprehensive, given the nature of the fast changing world. So what are the best practices for parenting that would apply to any age and time?
Love them with your heart and soul: Children thrive on love that’s given with intention and attention. Lots of hugs, kisses and laughter should be the norm. “Children need love, especially when they least deserve it.” (Harold Hubert)
Be what you want your child to become: What you do is often more important to your child than what you say. You’re the first seat of learning for your child. If you don’t want your child to raise her voice, speak quietly and gently yourself.
Remember your own childhood: things that hurt you, things that gave you joy and things that inspired you. Help your child cope with pain first by empathizing and then by talking about it; and teach them to live with joy, inspiration and security by being there for them when they need you.
Believe in them: Praise your children for their effort, guide them to overcome weaknesses with compassion and be the support that will help them grow up as confident, compassionate adults.
Be firm: Discuss family rules, resposibilities and code of conduct that are important for you and them, and set appropriate limits so they are aware of the consequences of breaking the rules. By keeping instructions, requests and negative feedback to a minimum, you create less opportunity for conflict and bad feelings. Rules are important, but use them only when it’s really important. ‘No’ means ‘no’, not maybe, so don’t say it unless you mean it.
Treat them as you would wish to be treated: When you respect your children, share your own feelings and allow them to share theirs, have time for fun and free airing of opinions, they will learn to be responsible and empathetic. To listen actively, you can nod as your child talks, and repeat back what you think your child is feeling. Keep your promises so they learn to trust.
Give lots of opportunities for social interaction: “Interacting and playing with both peers and adults presents an immense amount of learning opportunities for young children. Even toddlers and infants reap the cognitive and emotional benefits of interacting with others. The right socially interactive environment will help children develop strong language skills, creativity, social intelligence, and confidence.” (earlyeducationpros.org)
“Yours is a noble job; being a parent. Never underestimate the power you have in helping to create a better future, not only for your children but for everyone. Learn and reflect to become the parent you have always wanted to be, raise the kind of children you can always be proud of, and contribute to the evolution of consciousness that will lead to the creation of the kind of world we all dream of living in.” (Jack Canfield)