Children are not vessels to be filled, but lamps to be lit. ~ Swami Chinmayananda
To progress on our individual journeys, we need to constantly keep introspecting and re-evaluating our goals. Then what do we say of parenting, which is one of the most important and noble responsibilities that we take up in our lifetime?
Here are some practical questions, you can ask yourselves as parents to enrich your journey and give your child the best of all worlds!
1. How well do I and my spouse work as a parenting team?
There are definitely going to be times when you and your partner are going to be on different ends as parents, however how much you of a common ground both of you are able to arrive at, openly discussing your thoughts, listening and understanding the other patiently, being able to ultimately keep your child’s welfare above all will determine how well you function as a team.
2. Do I as a parent emphasize on taking up challenges or settle for the safety zone?
Every parent wants to give their child the best. At the same time they will also want to protect the kids from harm (which is natural), hence they may settle for the predictable, safe route. However the best path involves overcoming obstacles and dealing with challenges to become the best version of yourself.
While parents should evaluate risks, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is fearlessness and self-confidence. This will truly differentiate the “good” from the “best”.
3. Am I able to build a strong value foundation in my child?
Values are indeed timeless. They make great and resilient humans. A rock-solid value base equips the child with enough spiritual strength to face the odds of life. List the top values you would like to instill in your child – it could be compassion, honesty, love, righteousness. And ensure you too are able to follow them for a child learns from her elders. You could take her to orphanages to show her the other side of life. Narrate value-based stories.
4. Do I offer verbal assurances and encouragement to my child often enough?
Is there anyone who doesn’t feel good after receiving a well-meaning compliment? Children, more so perform better when their parents are encouraging not just toward their achievements, but also toward the efforts they make. Evaluate if you are telling your child the following statements,
I am proud of you! You gave your best, that is what truly matters!
I believe in you. I love you.
Don’t lose heart, we’ll do better next time.
Thank you. Will you forgive me? I am there for you.
5. Do I explain to my child the essentiality of setbacks too?
As much as we illustrate the glory of success, we must look at the umpteen struggles and setbacks that led to that point too. Don’t hesitate to tell your child that you too have struggled and failed at times to be where you are here. It will give him much more confidence to keep trying and not despair when he suffers setbacks in his life. Knowing of your struggles, will give him the strength to cope with his own as well.
6. Do I realize that I am responsible to my child and not for my child?
The biggest blunder that a parent commits which messes up both the child’s and their lives is to think that they are responsible for everything that the child is – his behaviour, his achievements and so on.
But no – parents are simply akin to gardeners who provide the right environment and nourishment for the child to grow. Rest, the child is responsible for his own life. Parents are anyway not meant to carry child-rearing like a burden. They are meant to enjoy the process and be committed to giving their child the best.
7. Am I being a consciously good role model for my child?
Children are brilliant observers. They learn much by observing and interacting with their parents. So if you want your child to become a compassionate human being, when was the last time you dressed an animal’s wound or fed the hungry or offered to volunteer? When was the last time you narrated an inspiring tale on love to your child?
8. Am I satisfied with the time I am spending with my child?
In this day and age, where parents are working hard to give their children a dream life, they often end up wondering if they are able to give their child quality time and not satisfy him with a phone, gifts and other materialistic items?
Sit down with your partner or with yourself and decide on your priorities, how you can work around your schedules to spend maximum time with the child during his crucial growing up years. Talk about how you can strike the perfect balance between gifts and the invaluable gift of love and time. Refrain from handing over the phone to distract your child unless absolutely necessary. Instead you could give him some puzzles as per his age or a good picture book to read. When you are with him, ensure all your attention is on him, on what he is saying.
9. What are the sacrifices I am ready to make as a parent?
This is one important question you must address before planning for a child. Parenting is a noble journey that naturally includes many sacrifices all for the benefit of the child. Parents willingly do it out of unconditional love. However, in today’s parlance it translates to the parents’, especially the mother’s career and goals. You need to sit by yourself and with your partner to evaluate how much of a break do you want to take, what are your long-term goals, what defines you apart from motherhood or fatherhood and where do you want to see your life going.
10. What are our biggest strengths and weaknesses as individuals and as a family?
It is important to have some reflective time to accept and work on your weaknesses and cherish your strengths as individuals and partners. Equally essential is to evaluate your child’s biggest fears, weaknesses and plus points. Sit with him and help him work on them. For instance, if he feels he is weak at math, you could use fun ways to help him learn it. These evaluations and consequent work on our weaknesses and strengths, build a challenging yet comforting, encouraging and evolving environment at home which is vital for the family’s growth.
11. What are the rules that I strongly would like to enforce at home?
Certain rules are a prerequisite to maintain harmony in the household. Understand what are the absolute no-no’s you would prefer at your home. For example, no junk food except for twice or thrice a month or no screen-time during family dinners and before going to bed.
12. Do I allow my child to define his own success?
This is a difficult yet honest question you need to answer. Parents may unwittingly impose their own (often restrictive) definitions of success on their child or try to fulfill their dreams through the child just so that they feel successful. A parent who wants their child to truly succeed will not only define what success means to them but also allow the child to do so for himself.
13. What is the greatest gift I can give my child?
As a parent, three of the greatest gifts you can give your child are : independence, self-worth and compassion. With these three strengths, your child is ready to face the world and live life to the fullest! But for your own self, you need to determine what aligns with your ideology that can serve the child well.
14. How can I empower my child to achieve his complete potential?
Even when you scold the child, communicate at the end that you love him, it is only his mistake that you are trying to correct. Speak to him like he is destined to succeed. Teach him ancient techniques like meditation and let him remain connected to his roots. Let him know that what will truly define his success is what he is, the strength of his thoughts and character. Let him take responsibility for his actions and learn to make commitments to what he takes up as his passion.
15. What are the ways of discipline I am ready to adopt?
Are you okay with the disciplinary methods your parents used for you? What did you like about how they raised you and what would you not like to repeat? How do you feel about spanking, yelling and time-outs? These are some of the questions you need to address while raising a child.
So, that’s about it! To all parents and future parents, we hope this piece helps you. 🙂
Love, Team Trijog. 🙂