Over Parenting, Under Parenting- How We Make Children Suffer

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Saiqa Jan

Parents; every time someone uses this term for themselves or for others, I wonder what do they actually mean by it? How do they perceive the term? What does the term actually mean for them? How do they understand and interpret what parents actually are to a child?

Is it simply an act of being a caregiver to a gamete which resulted in a child? Or do they perceive it as something more than that? Is it completely a biological responsibility or is there any other aspect related to it? Do parents act as parents because their society, religion, biology and morals have taught them to be so? Or do they act as parents because they want to be for a reason much more divine than one can understand, like affection, care, love, belongingness towards the same gamete?

I have heard people saying that “parents are the only selfless beings on the face of the earth that one can have,” but is it really so? Can the theory be applied to each and every person who has been a parent or who is going to be a parent? Do people use those big phrases and quotes about parenting out of personal experience or simply because they have been listening to all those densely deep words throughout the generations and have simply been made to believe in them rather than acting upon them?

All the quotes, phrases, definitions, explanations regarding what parents are and how parents should be. The description of do’s and don’ts for parenting set by the society simply accounts for two possible aspects of parenting; either positive or negative.

Positive for people who will understand that the role of being a parent to a child is somewhat like that of a God to a believer who does not know anything other than believing, and knowing the fact that God only exists in a heart of a believer, so to keep themselves a God forever they have to keep the child a believer forever,

The negative aspect goes to the people who think that being a parent itself means being a God, irrespective of whether the child believes in their God ship or not. Such are the people who think that they have every right to force, compel, enact, and apply any rule, any law, any principle upon their children irrespective of it being positive or negative for the development of their children’s belief in them. Such are people who need to follow a set of standards and rules for parenting.

But the question which arises here is, which standards should one follow to become an ideal parent? Because clearly whatever the standards are every child needs a separate set of them for his/her respective parents, because every child is different and needs different kind of attention, love and care from the folks. 

Who will set the bars and rules? For parenting is not a requirement of two adults who give birth to an infant, but it is the requirement and the necessity of the infant who has just been brought into the world to which he/she is completely unknown to. But the people who claim themselves to be parents, do they really see the world from the eyes of their children? Are they able to see themselves as their children see them? The answer is No, not as long as they leave their God ship and try to see what a believer actually asks from them.

Right from birth the child knows nothing about the external world, but as the child grows, it learns about everything that surrounds it, sometimes by means of questioning, sometimes by means of imitating and modeling, sometimes by means of observation and interpretation, sometimes by means of reinforcements and punishments. But all these activities which a child does, the center of focus remain the parents.

Parents should give their children hope and help them overcome failures instead of sending them on a guilt trip

From teaching them to learn through babbling with them, from reading the poems and stories to making the values and morals clear to their children, Parents greatly influence the overall development of their children, ranging from their psychological, biological as well to their social aspects of life. Though children are born in this world with their own type of temperament it’s the parents who influence the children on how to give voice to their unique temperament in consideration with the external world.

Parents influence children both directly as well as indirectly, and that influence will lead the child to be either adaptive or maladaptive in the society, after all, it’s the society we have to fit in as we are the social beings. A child when born is like a clean slate which has nothing written over it, but as the child grows it takes words from people, especially parents and writes the words on this slate, those words determine his/her entire life.

Life of people who lived earlier was much simpler and easier than our lives are today. As our lifestyles changed, our needs, desires, modes of expression changed as well and so did the issues between parents and children.

We cannot expect the process of parenting to be always smooth as butter or soft as silk, but it can sometimes be rough, or roughest than expected. In today’s world parenting has become one of the greatest issues, and what is ironic is that we pay little or no attention to the issues with parenting.

People always find problems and faults within children, their demands, their needs, their actions, but do they actually pay attention to the fact that everything the children do is a reflection of what their parents taught them, be it directly or indirectly. A child is like a mirror to the parents, the mirror imitates and acts exactly the one who is standing in front of it, so have you ever considered that the faults you see in your children are somehow or somewhere your shortcomings?

Being a parent does not only mean taking care of a child’s financial matters or enacting laws and rules over children, or giving them the education or providing them with clothes or food. The role of a parent does not end on all these activities, but it goes beyond such things. Most people think that they gave their children the education, the money, the clothes, the food, got them settled and married them off and think that they did their job well, but is that all? Does a child just need all that? Or is there something more a child expects from his/her parents?

I would say that if parents fail on providing the materialistic things to their children they should never fail on giving their children the support and hope they need. It is important for children so that they make their lives better and transform themselves into better individuals. Support does not mean physical presence, but being with them in literal terms. Support is talking to children when they need someone to talk to rather than shutting them out every time they start to make a point. Providing them with a shoulder when they need to cry rather than making them feel neglected. Giving them the love they crave for rather than letting them go and search for it somewhere else. Listening to them when they start talking about something and trying to understand where you lack behind according to them instead of thinking that you are always right and they are always wrong.

Parents should give their children hope and help them overcome failures instead of sending them on a guilt trip and thus pushing then even further towards a total failure. It is necessary that you attend to your children while they want you to, rather than making them feel unwanted in your life.

Being a parent means being there for your children emotionally, mentally, as well as physically.  If children get the required love and attention from their parents, they will never go out in search of love and care elsewhere. It’s not like punishing is bad or putting limits and boundaries on your children is bad, but instead of treating your children as criminals or run away convicts, a healthy punishment will do the magic, a healthy conversation will change a lot of things and can work wonders which infusing negative feelings will never do. Making your children feel ashamed of their failures and mistakes will only distance them even more away from you, rather sit with them, make them understand where they are mistaken, where they have gone wrong. Instead of yelling at them and telling them that “you can never be better” tell them that, “I believe in you and you can do better than this”.

Parents need to understand the concepts of good parenting, over parenting and under parenting. One should be able to distinguish between the three to see where they actually are taking their children.

Parents need to understand the concepts of good parenting, over parenting and under parenting. One should be able to distinguish between the three to see where they actually are taking their children.

When parents develop effective parenting skills, they are able to take the initiative in filling the generation gap. When parents start to understand where to place boundaries, where to encourage, and where to discourage, then their children will not get spoiled. In this way, they become good parents. When people do not know how to be a good parent, the distance between the two develops. As the distance develops, solving the issues becomes even more difficult for the child, because the development of the feeling of not being listened to and not being understood already impacts the developing psyche of the child leaving a mark and a grudge against parents forever.

Parents usually seem to be complaining about the fact that their children do not listen to them, that they do not follow what they are asked to, so the fault lies with children’s behaviour, that they do not listen to and follow.

But why does this happen? There would be a reason for it for sure, but instead of finding out the reason our parents usually start the blame game, use harsh words, even beat up children at times, and behave harsh and rude, but does that help? Do their children start behaving well?

No, instead they shift to more aggressive and non-conforming behaviours, they indulge in anti-social activities, drug abuse, substance abuse, get involved with wrong peer group.  A child while growing up passes through different levels and different types of stresses and pressures, be it family pressure, peer pressure, educational pressure, or any other type of stress, and in all that stress, all a child needs is someone who can hold his/her hand and guide him/her through.

Parents need to understand that no matter what the age of their children may be, they still lack in patience and experience as compared to them, so the parents cannot expect their children to behave exactly the way they want them to, but they can help them to achieve the required behaviour and guide them through it, if only they understand that they need to be a little flexible with their children. They need to give them a little space and time of their own to perceive things in terms of their own ways of understanding and perception.

Now, you may think I am putting the blame on parents here, but understand that the point here is, parents are not always wrong, but so aren’t their children. Their children are as human as they are, just the way parents feel disgusted when children don’t listen, the children might feel the same, just the way they get angry on their children’s actions, the children might get angry too, after all, it’s a two-way relationship, functioning on the principle of give and take, what you give them, you will definitely take that back. Raising a child is like yielding a crop; you harvest exactly what you yielded.

You cannot expect your children to be respectful until and unless you are not respectful to them, you cannot expect your children to show care and interest towards any affair when you have been dis-interested in their affairs all along.

The most common parenting mistake is that parents make their children feel that they should be indebted to them for they raised them, educated them, gave them food and money but does it really have to be a debt? Can it not be love? Can it not be care? Can it not be that my son I have loved you all along and for that, I would want you to listen to me for I have experience over things while you don’t, instead of I have paid all your expenses till now so you will follow my orders.

Can we not just make parenting simple by changing our way of conversing with our children? Instead of making them robots by giving them commands and expecting them to follow them. Can we not simply treat them as humans by asking them to do things by being kind, generous and loving? Is loving and being kind to one’s own child that difficult?

Author is a Social Media Analyst. She can be reached at jansaiqa7@gmail.com

Or have we just misunderstood the concept of love for authority? Have we become so God-like in our parenting process that we don’t care and value the opinion of our child regarding a life that he/she lives?

We need to understand that we being parents can only make guesses and jump to conclusions about why and how our children do things while actually they are the ones out there suffering, coping with things, and trying to live up to expectations people stamp them with.

Instead of pressurizing and stressing the children, can’t parents be the hope and support a child looks for?

With this question, I will leave the rest of the thinking to you. Introspect, reflect, and understand if you can do something even better today to make your child speak and open up to you and have a healthy conversation with you.

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