I have observed modern parents and find it amusing that when it is time for them to say a ‘no’ to their child, they say it almost with a sense of apology in their voice and a lack of conviction in their demeanour, which often reeks of acquiescence. This appears to be a part of modern belief that we should negotiate with our children because it is more egalitarian and its so much nicer to endear ourselves to them, as opposed to challenging and upsetting them. This also reflects our misplaced concern that to demand our child’s compliance through compulsion (if necessary) will in some way be quashing their character and preventing them from expressing themselves. Parenting with flimsy boundaries might make us feel as if we are being ‘nice’ but while at first our children may enjoy getting away with things, they will eventually feel that their parents don’t actually care enough to do the hard work of parenting. A child can eventually work it out that the lack of time and effort on the parent’s part is often compensated with a lenient and over indulgent attitude and soon the child begins to exploit this weakness to suit his convenience which eventually has a negative effect on his upbringing. Such a child often feels unsupported and is likely to experience more problems. As is the case of authority, boundaries make children feel safe and secure. While they may not act or look happy when we impose a consequence, setting boundaries and enforcing them shows children that they actually matter to us-that they are loved enough to motivate a tired, overworked parent to deal with them as opposed to taking the easier option and conceding. We’d all prefer to enlist a child’s co-operation and even endear ourselves to them in the process-but parenting also involves the not –so –feel good aspects.
So, do not be afraid to strike the right balance for your child. Keeping your child smiling, happy and tear free 24 x 7 is NOT the correct parameter of effective parenting. Please remember, as parents and teachers, we must provide structure and support for our children, even if it doesn’t taste good. Clear and consistently enforced boundaries teach our children the protocol of life, so they can grow up, fit in and cope.
Though it may take years, our children will appreciate it especially when they have children of their own.
All the Best.
Mrs Urvashi Warman