Stuff that has everyone all agog with excitement
We have goals we set for ourselves, and those that we want our children to achieve. As we begin a new year, these hallmarks of success loom larger, like tantalising talismans of success to validate our worth.
What we forget is that we are human beings, each one of us entirely different from the other. This applies to children as well. Just because someone’s child is potty trained at the age of two, does not mean that your child is defective if he/she is not there yet. Take a look at your tastes, your preferences, things you excel at, and compare yourself to your friends. You may share some similarities, but you are different. Why would you compare notes about your children to standardised societal metrics?
Stop. Look at your child. Look at yourself. And breathe.
Your child does not have to sleep through the night by six months.
Your child does not have to read by the age of five.
Your child need not have perfect penmanship by seven.
Your child does not need to excel at math to survive in this world, or learn to code at an early age to have an edge over others in the cutthroat corporate rat race.
Who said that they should?
And most importantly, why do we put this pressure on ourselves, and our children?
I recently met a mother who was worried about her child being ‘different’. He is not interested in socialising with his friends and wants to stay home all the time.
When I asked what ‘all the time’ implied, she named a few instances where her child was reluctant to socialise. She was worried that her child had deep social anxiety and would not learn how to make friends and would be lonely for the rest of his life. Her worries had spiralled out of control; her son not wanting to leave the house one weekend had doomed his social prospects for life. The question is why did she feel this way? What was contributing to this chronic over worrying?
The mother had been abandoned in boarding school at a very young age. Since her parents were never there, her source of solace, comfort and happiness were her friendships. Her belief system was this: without friends there is no love.
She was projecting her experiences onto her child. Awareness of the roots of the expectations we have of our children is the first step. To heal, she needed to spend time with her inner child, soothe her with presence and be the source of comfort she needed in the face of her parents’ abandonment. Reliving those moments of pain, when she was lonely, with love and presence, would quiet the voice that was screaming in the face of her child’s desire to stay home.
Our early experiences and societal conditioning form the heart of how we parent. Understanding the ‘why’ behind our expectations is the beginning. Why do we believe that this is the way? We are human beings, not robots. It is our differences that allow us to thrive.
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