Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Survival Guide for Parents

I am not sure whether parenting was as difficult 20, 50 or maybe even 100 years ago but am certain modern-day parenting has assumed distinctive proportions and status in minds of most people. Parenting from being an art has slowly transformed into being a science. “Every action has an equal (mostly magnified) and opposite reaction”. It is one of those things which can be appreciated and understood only by those who have either lived through or are living. Once a parent, always a parent, I say. Technology I guess has a major if not the pivotal role in bringing about this revolution. Children find it much easier to communicate with the devices rather than indulge in the age old human-to-human contact (read interacting with parents). Not a day goes by when I am not reminded by my daughter “how she is a product of 6 billion years of successful evolution” and I should treat her like one. How about acting like one, my darling by-product?

Couple of months back I had the privilege of attending a workshop with my daughter where in one of the sessions we were asked to listen to the anguish of this generation “Z” (generation Y will feel outdated in sometime I can bet). One child shared, “how can you understand what is the fun of computer games or apps on our mobiles / iTouch/iPads when you have not encountered these things during your growing up years”. A very valid observation and an equally solid argument, I must admit. Well afterwards we were taken through more sessions where the point – “we can’t be perfect parents, so we should stop expecting perfect kids” – was illustrated. Clear situation of customer delight gone wrong from both ends.

After the workshop I had my eureka moment. Realization dawned that we can either be successful or unsuccessful parents but never good or bad or perfect or imperfect. All parents are good because it’s always the well being which is at the heart of all our actions (that’s what we like to believe, don’t we). I had read in Reader’s Digest a couple of decade’s back – “All mothers give birth to great men, it’s not their fault if life disappoints them later” – it has stuck with me since then. Such quotes take off a lot of pressure off my shoulders and conscience. 

This realization and several other pearls of wisdom which I have had the opportunity of collecting in my quest to be a successful parent has resulted in my coming up with multitude of competencies for achieving the equivalent status. However, covering all would really prove to be a sort of laundry list that we would not want to go through. So I have narrowed them down to just 5 core competencies which we would require lifelong. These need to be practiced and observed in terms of behaviors’. Believe me we will not be able to survive more than these anyways in real life situations. I am not getting into the technical competency mapping but just going with my gut and limited practical experience so far. If life blows me later I don’t know.  

We get ample opportunities to internalize and utilize these, once our angels discover feet, hands and most importantly “mind of their own”. For the seasoned ones I don't need to pass on. Sharing from experience my dear Watson.

Ambiguity Tolerance:

This is the ability of the parents to work with incomplete, inconsistent and/or conflicting data (these are our children for god sake) in order to achieve the desired results. No one has understood them and no one will ever be able to tame them. We know what we have produced so then we cannot go on blaming the product. Right. So in order to deal with  this self created situation, we need to develop ambiguity tolerance. Pray for the best but be prepared for the worst. Your child would abhor all healthy foods at home by employing every possible trick up her/his sleeves to avoid having them. But lo you go visiting some friends over dinner and the way your child swoops down on the same dishes will make you want to hide under the “invisibility cloak”. Now I understand why Harry Potter's parents must have got it in the first place. Adding injury to insult is the statement, in front of all those people “mom why don’t you make these dishes at home”. Ambiguity is directly proportional to growing up. One goes up, the other goes up much faster.

Consequential Thinking

This competency is the ability of the parents to visualize a series of next steps for any particular decision involving the child. For example the parents have to think through (logic and obvious will definitely not work here) the effect of saying no to T.V viewing after coming back from school. Therefore we adopt a course of action which we think is doable, best possible and not too difficult to follow. However, all these precautions and preparedness need not necessarily bear the anticipated results. It could pull you into a new space, where your ambiguity tolerance will play a major role in handling the pressure. No amount of goodwill gained in the past will work here. This too shall pass.

Creative Solution Mindset

This is the ability to come up with unheard, unexpected and innovative solutions which will satisfy your child/children without making a dent in your peaceful existence or otherwise stable mental state. We as parents are expected to come up with bizarre and completely out-of-box solutions at all times of the day and of course night to deal with diverse posers thrown by the children. They believe in variety and higher the shock value for us, the more satisfied they are. For example at 9 in the night your child says “I have a science project on cell structure to submit tomorrow”. Great. If you are one of those who have not seen science books ever since your tenth board, then having this competency will help you tide this unforseen situation.  All the best.

Children Environment Sensitivity

The competency requires parents to work in a dynamic, constantly changing environment created by kids with understanding and sensitivity. You might have obediently followed all the diktats of your parents and understood their point of view, most of the time. However with this generation you are expected to display the same emotional stability and sensitivity. You can’t pressurize them unnecessarily. They have so much to handle – T.V, computer games, sleeping, eating and last and the least of the worries’, study. Come on guys, be sensitive. These kids need to visit spas and not us.

Stretch Ability

This is the ability of the parents to continually work beyond standard expectations of parental performance. Your tolerance threshold needs to be considerably high to sustain such stretch outs. This is one competency which comes to play in sailing successfully, without any major accidents (yours, not your kids), through each day. For example during the summer vacations the constant pressure of “I am getting bored” should not take you to the break point. It needs to be tackled with lot of patience and slowing down.

Take a deep breath and get going parents. Remember it’s a 28/7 job.

I forgot to tell you. My daughter turned 12 last week.


P.S share if more competencies have been identified  by you. 

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