FUNDAMENTAL NO: 5 – DISCUSS OPTIONS WITH YOUR CHILD
Once the parent and the child build a relationship of equals, there is nothing that we cannot share with the child. They become our friends. They give us ideas and take on our difficulties with the same zeal as they take on our victories. I had to take my children everywhere with me. My second daughter would sleep off in the first five minutes. As long as she was a baby it was fine, because I carried her in a cloth slung around my shoulders. As she became older and heavier, I was challenged. I had no choice of leaving her behind as there was no one to care for her. So, when she was around 2 years old, I decided to have a chat with her. I told her that I could not take her with me because she would fall asleep and fall off the bike as I did not plan to use the cloth to sling her around me anymore. My elder daughter was listening too. I told them that it was dangerous to have a sleeping child in the front seat as I could get distracted and we could have an accident. That they had the choice of staying back by themselves and caring for themselves for the time span when I had to go out to get the groceries etc or Mahua should stand in the front of the scooter and not sleep. They chose to come and Mahua understood that she should not sleep. When we went out the next time, as I became aware that she was dozing off, I stopped the scooter, shook her up and put her down and asked her if she needed to wash her face because she was sleepy? She then drank some water and I washed her face. Kaya suggested that she could sit in the back between myself and kaya and that she would take care of her and keep her awake. So Mahua climbed up behind me and she and kaya kept chatting and we had a great trip. There after Mahua would keep awake even when she was alone with me on the bike. When, a 2 year old is able to understand the situation and take charge of her responses any child can understand the situation of his/her parents and respond with empathy. The problem is that as adults we think that they will be incapable of understanding our values, our limitations, and our difficulties. We make decisions for them without consulting them because we think that they are incapable of making wise decisions. Most parents who have had the courage to follow their intuition instead of listening to general comments about the abilities of children will find that children have a lot of common sense and they love us and trust us completely. They are able to understand why we will not buy certain things, why we insist on making them take care of chores at home, and why we do not compare them with other children. They are able to sense the uniqueness of their person and able to love themselves since the trust we exhibit while sharing our problems with them makes them feel loved and respected. This makes them take on our problems as their own and help us find solutions that are obvious to them while completely obscure for us because we are conditioned and they are still in alignment with their inner self, their intuition and their conscience.
I remember, when I was around 12, I was very sad that all my friends bought new dresses almost every festival whereas we got a new dress only once a year. When I was crying and accusing my father that he was a miser and that he was a very bad dad as he could not even buy clothes for his children, he waited calmly and then after I had finished saying all the horrible things to him, he said, “Yes, You are unfortunate that I am your dad. And that I am so poor. I am the son of a farmer and a first generation learner. My parents worked hard to feed me and give me an education. I have huge loans that I am repaying for the house that we live in and the bills that we need to pay every month. I cannot afford to buy you more than one set of clothes a year. Why even me and you mother don’t spend on clothes! So you can chose to leave us and choose better parents who can fulfill your every wish. I am sorry that I am not a good dad”. His words made me feel that I was being unfair and that he was doing his best. I apologized for all that I said. He hugged me and said, “You are more than just your clothes. The clothes are only to protect the body from the weather”. That was a lesson in being myself and not becoming influenced by advertisements and other people’s opinions and carving for their appreciation. And I grew up with a feeling of being enough. I did not crave the ornaments, clothes and other material things. As I grew up I became aware that I did not get the feeling of wanting to use cosmetics to become more beautiful. Later I learnt that I had learnt the lesson of being completely comfortable in my skin and completely accepting my situation so that I was never left feeling that I could have been better, richer, prettier, and more intelligent. Instead I always had the feeling of being special because of my special situation and accepted the hardships as challenges! I think children are capable of converting any situation into a learning situation!