Children, as I have always maintained, are born smart. If we do not interfere with their understanding and do not tamper with their thought process, they can actually be better than us at most things. If only we could do that, though! Control our urges to impede their chances of really coming into their own personalities. The motive ostensibly, is to help them, despite having no idea ourselves what is right and what is wrong.
So, what brought on this realisation suddenly? Why, observing the little one, of course! You see, I have figured out, as am sure most of you would have too, that children at eight behave differently from the children at five, who do not behave like children at one or two. As children grow, they adopt different behavioural patterns, they change. But have you realised, that there is one thing that stays the same throughout? Yes! Their smartness. No matter what their age, the children correctly know the strengths and weaknesses of each parent; and are smart enough to utilise these to their advantage.
Don’t believe me? What, you think they are too small to be manipulative? Come on, you are not that naïve, surely! Okay, let’s see how. When the child does something questionable, who does she come and tell? When the child is hungry, who does she wake up in the middle of the night? Who does the child cuddle with? Who is the trusted secret keeper for a child? Who is a partner-in-crime? What? It could be either parent? Exactly my point!
A child is smart and capable enough to decide which parent (or any other family member for that matter) should be told what, when and how much. They know that dad will say nothing about having an extra ice cream late in the night, that mom will be okay with reading a book for an extra half hour, that grandparents won’t mind them taking a few extra candies, that an uncle (or aunt) close in age, will be happy to roll in the mud with them – and at the same time they know, that dad will not be happy having to sign off on a bad grade, that mom will frown on rough play on the carpet in the middle of the house, that grandparents will frown on a choice of certain type of dresses or language and so on.
But today, we see family dynamics changing. Parents do not adhere to set gender roles. Many homes see both fathers and mothers working outside of home, or in some cases, fathers as stay-at-home parents and mothers going out to work. And then there are the parents who take more of an active interest in the goings on in their children’s lives despite being away most of the day. Both parents are now more aware and involved in the children’s lives than ever before. But you know what, there are still only so many things that are openly told to parents by children. They still exercise discretion and smartly choose who gets to know what. If anything, the increased involvement of parents in their lives is allowing them more and more a glimpse into the parental psyche, helping them to make smart choices.
And that is why, it is important, when the child comes to us, to tell us something in confidence; that it is time to leave whatever it is that we are doing, and give her our undivided attention! Because believe me, they have thought long and hard before deciding on us as the lucky ones who they wish to share something with; and we do not want to let them down. We all hear about children getting addicted to the internet and being driven to do unspeakable things. And then when something goes horribly wrong, all the fingers are pointed at parents. How did they miss the warning signs? I guess it starts with, were the parents listening? Or, why were the parents not listening?
No child is born a teenager, an introvert, a loner. They start their journey with us when they are very, very young and impressionable. And they are all born with an urge to bond with us, parents. So, it its then up to parents to keep that connection. To not let it break. To be available when their children need them.
Ah, I hear you, how will we know our children need us? They don’t come and call us for help! Many parents would say, our children manage their affairs quite admirably. They don’t need our help. Well, commendable! But you know what, children ALWAYS need us. Even when they do not think they do. No matter how old they are.
When they are happy they need us. When they are sad they need us. Even when they are pondering some serious question about life, they need us. And by need us, I don’t mean being present physically. Although that helps immensely, but what I mean is that they need to know that we are there with them, for them. And that they can always count on us to understand. But children, as we all know, are smart. They learn early on, who would be happy to listen to them and who is really there for them.
So if we want our children to count on us as their confidants, then it is time to be a smart parent to our smart children. It is important to sow the seeds when they are still young; and ensure that we let them know that we are listening. No matter how trivial the matter that they want to tell us is, or no matter how significant, we should be listening. Because only when we listen to something trivial today with extreme interest, will they want to talk about something really serious when the time comes. Or so we hope…
Rashmi is a spirited mum and an avid reader. She started out a lawyer, surrendering to motherhood along the way, taking up blogging to maintain her sanity until she found nirvana in creative writing. Rashmi loves to write on parenting, books, relationships, fiction, and humour; and is a regular contributor to several lifestyle, parenting, book related and e-learning websites. Rashmi has been part of Kellogg’s India’s prestigious Khuljaye Bachpan Campaign that won a Bronze Medal at the 2016 Abby Awards, India and part of the anthology that was published at the end of the campaign. Her parenting posts have twice been as Top Parenting Articles twice by MyCity4kids.com, India’s largest parenting portal. Rashmi also writes short stories and blogs in Hindi and Marathi. You can find her rambling away about life on her blog Rashmi’s Ramblings and gushing about books on FindMyRead.