What My Son Taught Me about Parenting

I became a mother at 34. While I’ve always enjoyed being around children (still do) and voted the go-to baby-sitter of choice in the neighborhoods I lived in, it did not prepare me for parenthood.  I try my best to be a good one, learning something new on an almost daily basis and today, I am blessed with a wonderful relationship with my now-teenage son.

I read somewhere that as challenging as it is for parents to bring up children, it is equally (if not more) challenging for children to bring up parents.  It was an “A-Ha!” moment for me.  And it got me thinking – what have I learned about parenting from children? Plenty.

Let me share a few treasured memories.

What My Son Taught Me about Parenting by Vidya Sury

Keeping the faith

One incident I will always remember fondly was during my son’s first year of school. Their class was asked to say a few words on “My Mother” He said, “My Mother is very kind. She loves me. She never scolds me in front of anyone. She always talks to me nicely. She laughs a lot and I love her. She is my friend”.  My heart swelled with happiness when his teacher told me what he said. And while I do exert my authority on occasion, at that moment, I immediately secretly pledged that I would never scold him or make him feel bad in the presence of others.  This makes a huge difference to a child’s self-esteem and helps to build trust and an open relationship.

Out of the mouths of babes

Around the same time, I remember, I used to get very worked up about what to pack in his lunch box every day – Monday through Friday. Those days they had to be in school at 7.15 am, which meant being ready before 7 am. From grade 1 to grade 3, they were expected to carry two snack boxes, the first small one for a mini break and the second for the actual lunch break. I function with lists, so I would write down all the possible options. I would then ask him what he wanted to take the next day. Quickly, I realized this is not the right way to go about it.  You know how exotic children’s desires can get. Like the time he wanted a tiger for a pet. But let me not digress. Even as I wondered how to tackle this, he came up with a brilliant idea. He said, “Mummy, why not make a time-table for lunch boxes like the school time-table?” Oh, I was grateful – and we a lot of fun, meal-planning. It was endearing to see him sit with a pad and pencil and the “snack time-table”, and writing earnestly, filling the calendar. I also realized he could be very organized and systematic with the things he cared about – more about that later. The benefit for me is a hassle-free morning, secure in the knowledge that I knew what to do, not to mention the satisfying time-management. We follow this practice to this day.

Creating a routine is the best thing

At one point, a couple of years ago, when my son struggled with a weight problem, we realized that it was necessary to include activity since football and games at school were not enough. I was a little puzzled by this – football is quite strenuous activity. Delving deeper, I found out that he preferred to play chess most days.  Oho! While he looks like an athlete, a routine medical examination at school showed him as a few kilos overweight. Now, nobody enjoys hearing that and he was no different.

We discussed this and created an action plan to overcome this. Ideally, I would have preferred to go out for a walk in the morning, but that is ruled out on week days as I am up at 5.30 am to make breakfast and lunchboxes before he leaves for school at 8.00 am.  Instead, we decided to go for a walk at 5.30 pm in the evening. Depending on the weather, we do it on our vast terrace or go to a walking spot nearby, preceded by warming up exercises and wrapping it up by cooling down. We enjoy this time together every day and after forty-five minutes, use the remaining 15 to chat before we head back home. It is amazing what your child will tell you when you are outside the house and relaxed! I value this very much as it not only helps us keep fit, but also means fun together time, helping us understand each other better.

The most important thing I’ve learned is: communication, listening, empathy and being flexible are critical – these three can almost always help tackle any situation.  Nobody’s perfect – and in fact, nobody has to be. Being realistic with expectations can eliminate a lot of rough spots.  Sometimes, when expectations are reasonable, there’s no harm in living up to them, is there?

Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom who relishes the joy of parenting and growing up with her son. She is a freelance writer, business blogger and social media enthusiast and loves DIY, Coffee, Music, Photography, Family, Friends and Life.  She believes that Happiness is a DIY Project. She blogs at www.vidyasury.com and tweets as @vidyasury.

  • Dearest Vidya,
    This is such a beautiful post and useful too!! I love the lunch box time table idea….and am going to sit with my little girl this evening to make it. Thank you! You have no idea how many clueless mornings I spend wondering what to pack in that little tiffin box .
    I agree with all your suggestions here. Communication builds loving bridges that are unbreakable.
    Thank you for a lovely Saturday parenting read.
    Love and hugs,
    Z~

    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Zeenat. 🙂 I went through the dilemma and luckily for me, the problem was solved by that easy suggestion! 😀 Have fun making the plan with your little girl – children are the best when it comes to ideas! 😀 Hugs!

  • Hi Vidya,

    Though I’m not a parent, I can agree with you as I was a child 🙂

    I have such moments that I wish what if they were happened other way around. Mostly I had to do what my father ask me to do. I felt so bad when he scold me in front of others. But used to 🙂 Absolutely, they impose trust issues. So, I wasn’t much forward as others and there were times that my self-esteem was almost down. Gotta deal with life 🙂

    Nice topic and interesting how you put all those experiences here Vidya 🙂 I believe I can make use of ’em in future.

    Cheers…

    • Mayura – thank you so much for coming by and commenting. I’ve had those issues with other adults in my family pulling me up when I was young in front of others. Subconsciously, I would vow never to do that to any one. It is great what children can teach us. Takes the stress out 🙂

  • I can relate. The children teach us so much, if only we take time to listen and observe

    • You’re right, Ritu. Golden words 😀

  • Fabulous post! As a person who grew up with a mom who openly scolded me in front of others, I know first-hand how detrimental that can be. I learned much from my mother’s bad behavior, however, and have never reprimanded my sons in front of others. I also practiced “cooling down” before actually talking with either of them about their questionable actions, in order to be able to dispense the punishment/grounding, etc, in a most fair and reasonable way.
    Like you, I am so very proud of my sons. They have both given me joy beyond words, and I thank God every day for that joy.
    And, yes, they have both taught me much about parenting as well. Life lessons that I pass on to my grandchildren as best I can.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful post, Vidya!

    • Thank you, Terri. I’ve faced that too and it feels terrible! It is so rewarding when we treat our children decently. I love that I am constantly learning, not only from Vidur, but also from the other children I come in contact with.

      You, are a fabulous person, kind, compassionate and I cannot imagine you treating anyone in any other way. 🙂 I know firsthand. Hugs – I so appreciate you coming over here and commenting.

  • Karen

    Vidya, what a sweet post! Your son is so lucky to have such a caring, thoughtful mother. And he sounds like a wonderful young man. Thanks for sharing this.
    Karen

    • Thanks, Karen! Lovely to see you here. My gratitude goes to all those who teach me everyday! And that includes you – I wait to read your posts (even if I go on a bit of a guilt trip about not being as prolific as you are. ) Huge hugs to you!

  • Sharifa

    Vidya, you are such an inclusive kind of parent, so Vidur certainly feels free to give his suggestions. And because you respect his suggestions, he values yours too. Ma sha Allah, what a mutually loving relationship! You are a great sensible mom and he is therefore a great sensible son!

    • Sharif, thanks so much for being here. (and being my friend). Positive parenting is something I experienced with my Mom, and while we had our moments, 🙂 we both came out laughing from it. It is easy for me to treat him like a friend most of the time, it strengthens our trust in each other. And I find that it is easier to ask him for a solution rather than fret over something by myself. Hugs to you!

  • You are two of a kind! You’ve developed such a beautiful relationship.

    • Claudya – thanks for coming over! Happy parenting (you’re a great example) is a group effort. 🙂 I am grateful for who my Mom was to me, and to Sury for being a fantastic father. Even if there are differences sometimes, the love that binds us conquers all 🙂 Hugs!

  • A wonderful post . Kids of today have a lot to offer and parents learn a lot from them. Wonderful instance of a Mother and SOn bonding. 🙂

    • Thank you for the lovely comment, Ashwini! As Ritu said above, when we stop to listen, it can be so rewarding!. I enjoyed your latest blog post. Viva Chennai!

  • Once again, Vidya, you’re a complete angel. I love how you and Vidur work together to solve problems, even from a very young age. When my kids are wanting me to solve their problems for them, I frequently ask them, “If you were me, what would you do?” At first they balk and just want me to “fix it.” I ask the question calmly a couple more times and they can usually come up with their own great solutions.

    I also love how you devote time every day to one-on-one conversations. That’s amazingly important! As a child I recall feeling so unsafe about opening up and talking to my parents. My mother and I would be sitting at the kitchen table and she would just say, “Talk to me.” That was the fastest way to shut me up. Nothing was ever done to develop trust and openness in our house so communication continues to be a struggle for me.

    Vidur is one heck of an amazing kid with one heck of an amazing mom!

    • Paige, I am not at all surprised about your “If you were me, what would you do?” question. 🙂 I’ve learned enough from my own Mom (who was wonderful and also my best friend) – and have involved Vidur in making decisions. We’ve got to respect children to make them responsible – and discussions are always nicer than arguments and accusations.

      I know you are a fabulous Mom, Paige. Your children are going to grow up to be beautiful people.

      Hugs – I am so happy you came over!

  • Fab

    Superb post, Vidya!! Some of the most sensible parenting advice ever! You have really inspired me to change a few things and be more inclusive. Your son seems to be a wonderful, balanced, young man. Again, loved this post!!

    • Thank you so much, Fab, for your comment! So nice to meet you. I just made a quick trip to your blog, drooled and rushed back here.

      I’ve had my sheepish moments and am happy that the lessons are rewarding. 🙂 I look forward to being in touch with you! Happy Sunday to you!

  • Lovely post! I was raised pretty much in the children-are-to-be-seen-and-not-heard philosophy for most of my childhood, and I delight now, as a parent myself, in discovering the hearts of my four daughters by asking not only about their lives but how they feel about it. Everyone loves to feel valued, and nothing communicates that so well as asking questions and then listening. It’s much like your lunch-dilemma was solved between you and your son. Score!

    • I grew up in a joint family, too, Cynthia, and unless there was something that needed approval or feedback, life just went along. While there was plenty of affection and love to go around, it was only much later that my Mom and I actually communicated and became fast friends. As you said, it really is delightful to spend time with our children – they make great company.

      And I really enjoy consulting my son when there’s an issue. The simple and logical response almost always works.

      Thank you for your beautiful comment. 🙂 Heading over to your blog now. Have a super day!

  • What a wonderful relationship you and Vidur have Vidya…you truly are a special Mum and are creating a lifetime of love in your family.

    Your ideas are so respectful of the unique person Vidur is. Bravo.

    Love Elle
    xoxo

    • Thank you, Elle. He’s a good kid. I enjoy the mutual respect.

      So happy you came by and commented! Hugs!

  • Divya

    Vidya,
    I am making a pledge too, now, “I would not make my kid feel bad in front of others”.
    Its such a simple one, but going to be very effective.

    A great post !!

    • Thanks, Divya – makes such a huge difference, as I have found out 🙂 At at moment, I also realized that my Mom never said anything negative about me in the presence of others. Until then, I had just taken it for granted. I am grateful to my son for voicing it.

      Have a great day!

  • Rachna Parmar

    Lovely post Vidya! Kids are amazing teachers, aren’t they and so marvelous too.

    • Indeed, Rachna! Thank you for your comment 🙂

  • lovely post vidya; when you say nobody is perfect and there is no need to be, I can visualise a doting, giving and a wonderful mom who is there for her kid no matter what. Bravo

    • Hi Priya! 🙂 Thanks for such a lovely comment! I had great examples in my Grandmother and Mother. 😀

      Your latest recipe looks just amazing. I was drooling over it two days ago in my mailbox! I have to ask you something. I’ll come over to your blog and ask 😀 Happy Dussera!

  • Kids can teach adults a great deal!! Lovely learnings for all of us here! 🙂

    • Thanks, Shilpa! Yes, and it is not just our own kids – I constantly learn from other children too! 🙂

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