The free child

Babies are cute, Babies bring happiness, Babies are lovable, adorable and beautiful… We cherish and nuture babies. We also ensure that we do the best for our babies. Most of us have our own beliefs in bringing up our children. In India, it is common for parents to think it is their duty to teach kids right from wrong, to teach them discipline, to teach them religion, and generally to teach our kids all that we know.

Baby

But, what if there is another way to look at children and parenting?

A baby is another human being. Right from it’s birth, it is in the process of becoming an adult man or woman. All babies are born with the instinct to know what it needs for survival. We do not teach a new born to nurse. Neither do we teach a new born to sleep. Every baby knows how to do these two vital activities so that it can survive.  This is not taught.

Humans are born with the capability to KNOW. We can think, we can observe and understand. A child is capable of learning all that it wants by itself. All children are born intelligent and can learn what is needed for him / her at every stage in life.

Does this mean a child does not need parents? No, Parents are essential to every child. Parents protect the child. They help children with their activities till they have grown in to an independent adult. But, parents cannot take over their children’s life. Parenting does not mean parents defining their children’s dreams. It rather means helping children become a full-fledged individual with their own dreams.

This happened a year back… A friend was worried about her 2 year old child’s inability to learn numbers. She taught her child using daily examples to count. She had tried the abacus, flash cards and educative books. But still her little one did not count beyond two. She recites all numbers by heart, but cannot count objects. This was worrying my friend a lot. But since it was frustrating both of them, they forgot numbers for a while at their home.

One fine day, her little daughter told her that there were many crows in the backyard. The next day, she told her granny that she needs many peanuts to feed her toys. Then she asked her dad for a flower. Slowly it was obvious that the little one was distinguishing between one and many. Over six months from then, she now says she picked two flowers, she has one nose with two holes, her doggie has four legs etc. In this six month period, no one taught the child numbers, or used the books or flash cards. She seems to know numbers naturally, through her own observation and understanding. It is not deliberate teaching, but an example where the child knows naturally.

This learning by observation and understanding is not a one time activity. Humans do this all through our life. From learning to sit and walk as babies, … to creating new dishes and innovations in the kitchen, we continue this self paced learning through out life.

It is common in India that parents want their children to excel academically. School curricula that boasts of academic excellence, international exams and bookish knowledge are believed to have higher standards than a play way learning curricula. Abacus classes that teach children to increase their maths solving skills are a mandatory after school activity. In the name of academics and excellence, we are making our kids forget their in-born ability for self paced learning.

Classroom

Children in many towns and cities have time only to read school books and prepare for exams. Their parents dream of making them score good marks and land a high paying job. But, his attitude towards life, how well he evolves socially and mentally, his creative talents, his presence of mind etc are not given importance. These skills can be acquired only by natural learning through out life. It is acquired only by giving the child freedom to learn on its own pace and observation.

Are parents in India ready to understand this…? It is time to respect the freedom for a child to observe, understand and learn at her own pace. Let us give our children the joys, activities and freedom of childhood.

 

 

. Image source: Static News,

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Choosing a life partner

Are weddings all about shopping, endless phone talks, mid night sms, new relatives, fun and frolic. Yes… very much yes! In addition, it is also about two people, starting a new life together.

In India, and parts surrounding India, arranged marriages are common.Here the bride and groom are new to each other. Their parents meet through a common friend or marriage arranging agents. Their horoscopes were checked to see if they match. The bride and groom’s photos are exchanged to get their consent. Of late, the bride and groom meet and talk to each other before giving their consent.

Then starts the elaborate marriage arrangements. It accumulates in a grand three dayor two day celebration and religious rituals. Fun, feasting and celebrations follow for months. After this, the married couple live happily ever after.

Jodha Akbar

Truth is that, after all this, the married couple are faced with a new life, and a plethora of activities to handle together.  Rarely do they get enough time to understand each other, identify their spouse’s short comings, accept each other. They rarely become friends and fall in love. Instead, life just rushes by… The initial days are fun with romance and happiness in the air. But as days go by and they have kids, differences between them become obvious. At this stage, neither do they have the time nor the will to understand and accept each other. Is this happening only with arranged marriages? Sadly, No. It happens as much in love marriages as in arranged marriages.

There are lots of marriages, that do not take this route. There are people who prioritise practicalities of life first, before all the fun, frolic and romance. Here are the ground realities for newly married couples:

1. Select your spouse only after you know his strengths and weakness. Do you love him / her irrespective of their weakness and strengths?

2. Have you both talked about managing your finances, family and future plans? This talk is a necessity before marriage.

3. Are you starting your life in a joint family or in a nuclear family? Do you plan to continue the same after having kids? Make sure your partner and you are in the same page on this.

4. Kids… When do you plan to have kids? Are you both mentally and physically ready for startign af amily. If both of you are working, please understand the additional responsibilities that come with raising kids. Do not assume that your parents or in-laws will raise your child and you do not have to worry about it.

5. Are you a woman reading this, and if you are getting married soon… do you understand clearly as to how your personal finances will be handled after marriage? In India, it is a common practise, that after marriage the working women gets her salary and willingly passes it on to her husband. She concerns herself only with the problems of her job, her home and kids. Finance and famly budget remains the husband’s responsibility.kuch-kuch-hota-hai_122611043949

This will invariable lead to problems… Please set aside an amount for your savings. Plan your monthly expenses and set aside money for it. Encourage your husband to do the same with his pay. Pool the rest of your money together to plan for family expenses and savings.

6. Do you both respect each other’s personal space? This in turn translates to, do you both let each other lead a life of dignity and self respect? Compromises are fine, but they cannot be your life saver. If there are issues of self – respect and freedom, voice it out before the wedding. It is fine to reconsider or decide not to marry a person who cannot understand that both man and woman need self respect, freedom and dignity.

Considering these aspects do not mean that you are dis-obeying or questioning the choice of your parents or elders. It is all about deciding the life you want for yourself.

This is not a guide to fool proof marriages! It is only a window that opens onto happy love filled marriages. Wishing everyone lots of love, joy and fun.

Parenting – physical or mental?

Parenting – A word very much loved by women. Almost all women I come across consider themselves experts in parenting. If you are in India, and if you happen to have a child, you will receive advises and guidance on this subject from almost every woman you come across.

I was walking down the street the other day with my 10 month od daughter sleeping on my shoulders. A woman called out to me from inside her boutique shop. Curious, I stopped only to get a long advice on how I should cover my baby’s head while taking her out etc. I had the urge to explain to her that a mild exposure to the sun will not harm my daughter, neither will a pleasant breeze. But such explanations will only earn me stares and curt replies. I have even had people call me a mindless mother and my husband, a selfish father when we refused to load our daughter will all the customary gold and silver jewellery that a new born child is supposed to wear in this part of the world.

free childImage source: Etsy/terbearco

By parenthood, do we mean only the physical growth of the baby, and over protectiveness of it’s physical comforts? Is it not more important to bring up a mentally and psychologically mature baby? I would be proud to call myself the mother of a mentally mature, independent and sensible daughter, than to be the mother of a fair, beautiful, pretty looking daughter. Not that appearance and physical attributes are to be neglected. A good appearance is vital for a confident and happy mind. But, the point here is – physical appearance is not the only aim of good parenting.

In a society where the older generation’s view points on parenting and pregnancy are highly valued, it is a disappointment that the generations old advises and beliefs largely confirm to physical aspects like eating, massaging, sleeping routines etc. Not much is said about nurturing artistic talents or an independent spirit.

To nurture over all development, parenting needs to rest on the belief that every child knows what it needs to survive. Trust your child’s instincts to sleep, eat and live. Do not force your ideas / discipline on the child… instead feed him when he is hungry, let her sleep when she has tired herself out, let her play in the water to  enjoy her bath, let her enjoy a walk in the sun if she wants to play outside… Over protectiveness tends to make parents proud of their parenting skills, but it narrows down the child’s all-round development.

Common sense and respect for freedom is the best guide to parenting, now and forever.