This is a very important statement that I remind myself everyday as a parent “Be the guide not the dictator!”
Why I remind myself?
Well, the reminder is because before we are parents, we also are human beings. A basic core nature that we all carry within us is – I like things done my way! In many walks of our lives, we tend to keep control of this nature viz. when our boss doesn’t like us doing things our way at work or when we have to adjust with the elders of our family even though we don’t agree! As we were holding back in most walks of life… this is one path where you want things done your way and that path is called “Parenting”. Ask yourself parents., isn’t that true? I can’t lie to myself no matter how much I lie to others and my answer to myself is a Yes! I do tend to get bossy or it’s-my-or-highway-kinda parent many a times. Although I would like to point out that it has reduced a lot since the time, I was a new parent and 7+ yrs from then the reminders have increased drastically.
What are the reminders about?
My reminders are first and foremost about what a parent should NOT be doing rather than about what a parent should be doing! Reminder One, is that your 2-year-old is well capable of picking up the toy that has slipped off his/her hand and landed a few steps away! You don’t have to be the rescue master and reach out to it first. Next reminder, your 4-year-old is well capable of stacking up the little book rack every time he/she decides to give the reader inside a roll of a time all over the bedroom floor. You don’t have to be the library keeper at such times. Next reminder, your 5- & 6-year-olds are well capable of learning and then independently tying their shoe laces! You are not to bend over for everything, rather, you can teach them many more ways to bend ropes and make different knots! (A little camper can be of help to everyone) Next reminder, is that your 7year old does not need help to rinse his/her own dinner plate coz they are well capable of doing a few simple dish washings! They also don’t need you to become a floor cleaner when they spill something, because reality check parent, they are capable of doing the cleaning themselves! And all those 7-8+ years olds can learn to make chore timetables and play time tables, divide tasks and teach younger siblings, fold laundry and try to study at least 50% without assistance.
My reminders can go on and on! But how does that help the kids?
Well, the answers are already in front of you. I did discuss the importance of children doing house chores in my blog “If you do your chores I’ll do mine ” that it’s important for children to understand the importance of being responsible for the house and for the people they live with.
My reminders are an active picture of the way you made your child learn to walk. Take yourself back in time where you watched your child take his/her first steps to walk. Did you hold their hand at every single step? Or did you let go bit by bit? Did you pick them up at every fall? Or did you let them fall and learn to stand up again by themselves so that the balance to walk sets in? I’m sure for all of you the answer will be the latter part of the question. In all of my reminders the teachings are just once, while, the guiding goes on. Like for your 2-year-olds – they are watching and observing us every day, so all you have to do is keep an eye on the learning they have had. If they ask for help only then pitch in otherwise let observation work its magic. The same goes for the 4-year-olds. All you have to do is teach them once or twice rest is all about how you make the rules of chores an exciting one! Let the learning be a great time spent together and then turn it towards responsibility. For example, why just stick to learning how to tie shoe laces? Club it with some scout guide rope knots like the inverted knot or the link knot. Also doing dishes and laundry can be a rewarding method of teaching them how to take care of themselves. When I was in school, I learnt this saying “God helps those who help themselves “. Parents said it, teachers taught it, stories and examples were given., but now that I look back, I was never prepared nor trained for it!
This showed that saying it wasn’t enough and hearing it was not productive!
Our children need to be prepared for the world outside their home and school premises, the world called “Survival by themselves”. I keep stressing on this in most of my blogs because today I have seen so many parents hand holding their children for everything small thing that I really start to have pity towards that child because I know that this child is ahead for a very difficult battle with no hopes of winning the war. We have to let our children taste the pain of defeat, hurt, disappointment, betrayal and hard work.! All of these are the falls they have had as they learnt to walk for the first time as babies and we were there watching over them, keeping a protective hand around but a little distance away. Gave them a little nudge where required, these nudges are your first few attempts of teaching and making the rules, then again letting them free to find their own balance. Few months post this you know that your child will keep trying to get a bit better every day but as days go by you increase your distance of assistance and watch them run, fall, get up and run again but this time without your help.
This is exactly what a guide has to do.
You too have to learn to be the guide because it’s easy to always be there, but it’s way more difficult to be at a distance of being there and holding the urge so that they can be there for themselves when you truly won’t be there!