09 April, 2012

Parenting Bugbear

Call me opinionated (most people do) but I quite dislike people telling me how to parent or intervening (and sometimes interfering) with my modes of parenting. What I especially dislike is anyone countermanding my authority where my child is concerned. Red and I make it a point to disagree as little as possible on issues pertaining to MLM, especially in front of him. Minor issues are different but if one of us in disciplining him, the other stays neutral as far as possible. We try not to dump on him at the same time unless it's an important issue.

Getting back to what raises my hackles, is people who play little or no role in helping me parent on a day-to-day telling me how to go about being a parent or getting in the way of reinforcing a particular behavior or trying to weed out something undesirable.

I don't claim to know what's best for my child every single moment, but given the fact that I'm the primary care-giver I do believe that my actions stem from what will benefit him the most given his tender age and limited comprehension of the world around him.

What annoys me to no end is the extent to which people will jump in to shield a child from the wrath of a parent even though the ire is not a displacement and is justified in toto. What's the worst that can happen if a small child's feelings get hurt? They'll cry? Throw a tantrum? Refuse food for a bit till they're mollified and even bribed to bring about a better mood?
But if admonishments are left on the side simply keeping a child's age in mind, how will a parent know when their offspring is old enough to comprehend where their parents are drawing the line?

I know it's the rarest of rare parent who lose their temper on an infant or a baby who just lies there gurgling away or playing with their toes. It's only when the children get in the way of something important or worse, put themselves in harms way that parents get worried. And worry manifests itself as anger many a times because seeing a child hurt is one of the worst things for a parent to go through. I remember once when I needed multiple shots on both ears lobes (I'd given into my curiosity of wearing maha dangling earrings which clanged like cow bells but were cheaper than cheap!) and I was wincing at the insect sting-like feeling but seeing my mother wince at each jab distracted me to no end!
She still can't help but flinch if I need to give a blood sample. And I'm hardly a child. Only in her mind though.

But getting back to why I'm so thin-skinned where my parenting skills are commented upon, it's pretty simple- I don't want kudos. If my child is happy, all's well with my world. Really. Sounds utopian but it's not. Ask any parent who's stayed up nights with a child with something simple like a stuffy nose and you'll have your answer. Let them be brats of the first order but let them be healthy. That's all.
But being a parent calls for plenty of adjustments. You adjust to your body being even more out of whack than it ever was before. You adjust to intense pain-epidurals or not. You adjust to hormonal upheavals (am including men who have to live through their wives post-partum blues) that come and go as they bloody well please. You adjust to being the constant companion of a blubbering, cooing, peeing, pooping, spitting-up little person who you end up loving more than you can ever hope or be able to express. But you also end up putting on hold a large part of who you were before you became a parent. I don't just mean for those parents who stay at home.

Being a parent first takes some doing and you're never entirely prepared for many moments. It's never an auto-pilot kinda thing. Except diapering and knowing when to duck when the pee streams out at you but levity aside, it takes so much more than patience and love. It's takes a whole different dimension of you as an individual to do what you have to do, day in and day out. And in the midst of all that, when along comes someone and just whips out advice or steps in where they ought to at least ask first...it's a bit difficult to swallow.
I'd rather those helpful individuals ask me to sit for a bit, tell me go have a drink of water, wash my face while they keep an eye on an extremely active, lovable, annoying (from time to time) child and then tackle the situation.

Word of caution: never tell a mother who's yelling at her child not to yell. She's most likely to turn into a fire-breathing dragon and make you her target instead. Good for the kid who gets a reprieve but hell for you :-)
I usually nod and look sympathetic when I come across such situations. I wouldn't want to be in anyone's cross hairs the way I don't want anyone in mine.

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