Reading “How much is our role in molding our kids’ personalities?” on Parentous took me back to late 70s & early 80s; trying to recall, did we proactively took any steps in order to mold our 3 darlings?
… and truthfully couldn’t remember or recall any such discussion with my better half!
Molding is an integral part of parenting and we are constantly shaping our children, whether we are aware of it as ‘molding’ or not is an another issue. Parenting essentially has to do with training, disciplining, molding and at times forcing (although that may be getting difficult by the day) children to live as per the parents desire/dictate. All parents are constantly doing something or the other to inculcate values, ensure discipline, teach social interaction, make them do better in studies, excel in sports/other activities and several such other activities depending on their own vision and capabilities.
Ever seen a potter mold a pot? How gently, slowly he molds the dull, unbearing clay into a beautiful shape? Now try doing it harshly and faster, I am sure the end result won’t be same!
Forcing a child to adapt to what we think is right or what we feel the child should be doing is definitely not molding but forceful parenting, which often does more damage to the child. It can demolish self-confidence and destroy imagination. It is a sure shot way of destroying a child’s imagination and creativity.
Looking back over last three and half decades, I can say that, for us molding our daughters was essentially inculcating values – gently making them realise “why we do what we do?” My one daughter is married and I feel one can’t get a better compliment than – “she has mixed so well in our family that at times I get confused, whether she is a daughter or daughter in law” from a M-I-L.
If we ensure that our children learn to experience and express themselves as free human beings, we have molded them well! Now-a-days we have parents who even before the child has completed one year, decide to turn them into the next F1 champ or next Sachin! Most of the problems with adolescents can be traced back to an early age when they were told that they were to follow orders, under guise of parenting.
Where exactly is molding required as well thought of activity?
Real molding is when your child already has some abnormal behaviour that is either against the norms of society or is affecting his overall growth and development and we correct that without actually showing that a correction process is on.
Important keys suddenly started disappearing in the house (car keys, cupboard keys, etc.) and they would reappear after few hours of frantic search. Convinced that it is ‘an insider’s job’ we kept a watch and once caught my 3 year old daughter hiding car keys under the bed. Confronted she owned up, sheepishly, but could not tell why was she doing this. When we spoke to a psychologist friend, we were told ‘a child who is angry on something is likely to resort to such acts; as means of getting back at you’.
Gentle probing began and the reason shocked us and taught us how a small thing can upset a well balanced child. She was fairest in the family, somewhat more chubby than others and had kind of blonde hairs (today she has black). As is the habit of elders, people used to gently pinch her cheeks to show love and this had angered her; more so as other kids were spared that pinching (her words).
Now, we had to mold her to ensure she does not show anger in such acts but talks about it. My wife remembered then that she had complained, ‘mujhe acchha nahin lagta’ but my wife never took it seriously.
Fortunately, we had a good psychologist and with her guidance we could mold her into expressing her emotions – more the negative ones – verbally. Till today, she has not done any thing similar and is considered a sensitive person with good empathy.
There was one forwarded mail I received, “when your child comes to you asking the meaning of a word; what is better – tell him or help him see the dictionary for the same?” I am sure each one of us will have a justifiable opinion for this. This brings us to the question that may be bothering most parents: “What is more important: to shower a child with love and let the nature take its course or to provide intellectual stimulation?” The latest theory maintains that one complements the other.
In the past, and some believe it today as well, it was thought that love could develop a child and compensate for lack of intellectual stimulation; today it is crystal clear that to develop a child’s mind and mold his personality, mental stimulation initiated by the parents is decisive without which the normal emotional and social development of a child can be lacking.
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.