By Dr Shan Narayanan
What is a Parent? What is Parenting ?
A parent is either a mother or father to an individual. Parenting refers to aspects of raising a child other than the biological relationship.
We do not attend compulsory courses on how to be a parent (how to be a dad or mum). There is no right or wrong way of parenting. Most of us follow how our parents brought us up and learn through experience. Culture, upbringing and an individual’s personality strongly influences parenting style. A high-quality parent-child relationship is critical for healthy development.
Parenting practices around the world share three major goals:
ensuring children’s health and safety,
preparing children for life as productive adults and
transmitting cultural values.
(The American Psychological Association)
In practical terms, these goals translate into the following:
Being a good role model.
Ensuring safety of our child.
Interacting with our child.
Providing order and consistency.
Monitoring their activity and friendship.
Parenting my children was and is a journey. I was blessed with two lovely boys, three years apart. I was 32 when my eldest son arrived. Everything was so new. A family member decided to get me a parenting book as a guide. Along with it was a card that had a baby’s picture with a crown and the words “king of the home”. I just laughed only to realise with time that the baby was actually the “king”. His needs had to be addressed first before endeavouring any other activity.
I used to observe him, while he was sleeping, to ensure he was breathing. At times, it would appear like he was not breathing, I will poke him gently to “get him to breathe”. He will start crying and screaming. Obviously, I got scolded for having woken him up.
Many more things were new to me. There were many questions on how to parent him, what to do, etc.
I relied on my intuition, that as a parent, my role was to care for him and to guide him to be a responsible individual. Thus it requires interaction and leadership.
As an infant, toddler and preschooler, there was much interaction through storytelling. Every story was fun and had a moral value in it. The leadership was with me, to ensure they followed rules and were disciplined as they enjoyed their childhood.
As they became teenagers, the interaction became more testing. Naturally, teenagers want to be individuals and make their own decisions. Thus the process of “letting go” begins and giving them limited leadership.
Now, as young men I have left it to them to make their own life decisions and being available for guidance when needed.
The only constant in life is change. Same in parenting, the parent child relationship changes as the child grows. We as parents have to keep up with time, flexible but firm to ensure our children are brought up as responsible and productive adults.