When you talk to your parents or grandparents about their childhood, they will tell you nostalgic tales of simpler times, and to be honest in comparison to the kind of environment that children grow up in today, they were simpler times indeed. Though our generation, with adequate technological savvy-ness and progressive attitude, has seen some semblance of simpler times, kids today grow up way too fast and have what some might argue to be too much exposure to happenings of the world.
Parenting has always been a challenging task, right from your baby’s arrival into the world, till they’re grown up enough to make their own decisions and step-out into the world as adults; the challenges are never-ending. The huge responsibility of raising happy, healthy and well-adjusted kids may feel a little overwhelming for parents at times. In today's age, parents are bombarded with societal expectations and expert advice (with everyone wanting to have a say in how to raise a child), however, what does lack at times is the kind of informal support that our parents and grandparents received from extended family and neighbours.
Modern-day parenting may involve families facing time/monetary pressures with both parents working, and more expectations for children to be academically sound. This is just one scenario though, family structures are becoming more and more diverse now, with situations such as single parenting, step-families etc. and hence the challenges faced in parenting today are quite different from let’s say parenting in the 70s or 80s or even 90s for that matter.
Here’s taking a look at some of the significant challenges that are faced by parents today:
One of the mistakes that parents often make with their kids is trying to parent them, based on what we think of what they should be like, instead of acknowledging who they really are. Okay, let’s be real here, it can be really tough parenting a kid with ADHD or a toddler with temper tantrum who seems to be defiant and disrespectful (read our blog on How to Handle Toddler’s Temper Tantrums). Many a time, our children turn out to be quite different from who we are and then trying to do things from their perspective and become a constant, exhausting battle! Which will, at times, make you think “This is not what I signed up for!”
Times are different now and you will need to let go and accept your child for who they really are and then develop a different kind of strategy, to reach out to them and nurture them. True acceptance is probably the most powerful kind of love that a parent can give their child. Of course as parents we always feel that we know best, however, sometimes we need to give some space to our children, to nurture them better!
As controversial as it may seem and yes it may feel like going against your natural instinct as a parent, but you need to learn how to let your child know that actions have consequences, from a young age. I know you must be thinking “Isn’t today’s world tough enough already?” Yes, the world today is tough, that’s why your child needs to learn to be tougher and learn about things that he has control over - and things that are beyond his control.
Though you might feel more inclined towards it, it’s not such a wise decision to shield your children from the consequences of their actions. As humans, we learn from trial and error; we know that if we misbehave, we will get in trouble, so we stop. Putting a protective fence around your child and shielding him, means that he will not know any better. If you continue to shield him and fix everything all the time, then how will he ever learn to do things in a different manner the next time?
It is sometimes helpful, to let your child struggle a bit, as changes only happen if we accept the responsibility for our actions, and try a different approach the next time over. Yes, as parents, it is our job to help our kids through difficult times, but it surely isn’t our job to bear all the burdens, that are to be born by them. Talk them through the process, and teach them how to cope with disappointment and let’s say a little bit of pain. If you let your child know that you’re there for them always because you love him, that’s the greatest gift in itself.
One of the hardest parts of being a parent is when your child is mean or disrespectful. Might make you wonder “What happened to the little cherub, who wanted to be around me all the time?” Generally, as a child hits his pre-teen years, you can see a behavioural shift in their personalities. A child which was once a bundle of laughter and giggles might become sullen and reclusive or even worse, rude and aggressive (You can read our blog on How to deal with aggression and extreme behaviour in kids, Yes, we have an entire blog dedicated to this worst-case scenario!).
One minute they are loving 10-year-olds and the next thing you know your child is having a scream-fest with you, telling you that they hate you and how you’re ruining their lives.
Such hurtful words have the power to reduce any parent to either tear of frustration/hurt or make them feel angry - it might even make you feel like you’ve failed as a parent and make you wonder where you went wrong. The truth, however, is far from that, instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to it and throwing around parental authority, be composed (a rebellious child will act out further to a show of dominance).
Take a cooler approach, it’s important for both of you, eventually, when your child calms down, you can have a polite discourse with them and you also need to know that you cannot take such incidents or words personally.
Personalizing things will only stop you from being objective and many a time, kids try to use words as a tactic because they know that they will affect you during a fight. So the best way to deal with it, as they say, is to “Keep Calm, and Carry On!”
(You can read more on the topic of Challenges parents face with teenagers here)
This is a ‘Get Real’ Talk, you cannot always protect your children and certain ‘bad’ things that might happen to them - be it the poor decisions they may make, once they’re a little grown up, to the situations they might get themselves into. Yes, you can try to be there for them when you know that things are beyond their control or grievous danger that you can protect them from; but the smaller things, the things that make life-lessons are the things that you need to let them learn on their own.
They will not realise it now, or thank you for sometimes having to suffer the consequences (Did you? When your parents showed you a little tough love?) but in reality, your children too will come to realise the value of it, as they grow older.
As every child is different, parenting is a different quest and experience for every parent. What seems to get through to one child, might have an opposite effect on the other, it’s a process of trial and error for you too. Don’t be too hard on yourself about being a supposed ‘Good Parent’ when days are rough, try to be a ‘Good-enough Parent’ on such days. a kind of parent who might not be perfect but is trying hard to do the best that they can for their child.
Hard situations are just a part of life- as it is for your kids, so it is for you, and as parents, we have to support our children, as well as support ourselves too. Parenting doesn’t stop, when your child hits adolescence or even grows up, you will never stop being a parent - the role just keeps evolving over time!
Yes, there are challenges and days when it will feel really rough, but at the end of the watching your child grow up to be the wholesome adult that they were meant to be, (and you hoped they would be!) is well worth pushing through the tough times.
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