Magical clouds covering the evening sky and the bright African sunset induced in us a natural high. The four wheels of our rusty silver Nissan drove us through the beautiful terrain of the village. With open windows, we embraced the fresh northern air which slapped our cheeks into effortless smiles.
And then the bubble burst because Naneni began chewing her deflated red balloon. I instructed her to stop doing it, citing the fact that it is unhygienic. Because she did not heed instruction, I took the balloon and threw it out of the window (pollution – I know, sorry!). A day later, she jumps on the bed. I remember saying “The bed is for sleeping and not for playing”. She responded by saying “The balloon is for playing and not for throwing out of the window”. As a parent, how do you react in such instances?
Is it disrespectful? Talking back to an adult is regarded as an insult if not a sign of ill-discipline. Children should, under no circumstance, appear to undermine the authority of a parent nor question their actions.
So how did I respond? I laughed hysterically! What a cheeky young lady. I then acknowledged that she is indeed right. Buying a balloon only to throw it away defeats the purpose and it is actually a waste of resources. I then reassured her I will not be throwing any more balloons out of the car window.
Irrespective of what your parenting style is, your culture, tradition or beliefs, the fact remains in that moment, my daughter called me out on my own bullsh*t. She pointed out I was being hypocritical for expecting her to know and do what is right, yet I did not display the same values when I threw the balloon out of the window. Simultaneously, she also corrected me and allowed me to think of alternative ways of asserting my instructions. I appreciate that my daughter has always held me accountable for my actions.
Are you a managing parent or a leader parent? Are you managing your child to pretend to know right from wrong or are you leading your child into being a well-rounded person, who does right even in darkness? Blind obedience to obvious hypocrisy results in a foundation with cracks and does not build a strong foundation. Unfortunately, sooner or later, these cracks will begin to show and it is almost laughable when people believe that the idea of ‘do as I say and not what I do’ actually works.
There are those of us who do not openly communicate with our parents today because growing up, we were taught that questioning your parents is a taboo. I know so many adults who are still hurt and bruised little children, yet are unable to openly tell their parents that some actions during their childhood were hurtful or traumatic. Those who have tried to have these open conversations have been bullied into silence because parents become defensive and label their children as ungrateful. But at the same time, these adult/children are expected to be receptive to correction and should always be mindful of their parents’ feelings. In this situation, this person is powerless.
Putting this culture into observation made me realise that when someone is powerless in one situation, they overcompensate elsewhere. The child, whose freedom of expression is taken away, may behave in front of their parents but will most likely find someone younger to exert the same oppression on. I believe every individual is born with an innate power over themselves; humans do not like to be caged. Whenever power over yourself is taken away, it leaves a void that needs to be filled. Sometimes, we become helpless and develop low self-esteem, become susceptible to bullying or we systematically search for someone seemingly weaker than we are to control and, thus, grab their power from them.
During the nine months of my pregnancy, I had to make a conscious decision to parent myself first before I could raise Naneni. I am glad I have never attempted to take my daughter’s power away from her – and that has allowed me to benefit from her guidance. She has moulded me, held me accountable and corrected me. Ironically, we are raising each other. Contrary to popular belief, children are highly intelligent. The mystic yogi Sadhguru once said children have the highest intelligence, as the world has not corrupted them yet.
Parenting is not an easy task, as you are never really sure whether you are doing too much or too little. Of course, I am aware that too much freedom of expression may result in a spoilt child but what matters, I suppose, is maintaining balance!
*My name is Paulina N. Moses, mother to my four-year-old daughter, Naneni. This column hopes to create momentum for positive parenting by candidly discussing everything about parenting while creating a network of millennial parents who support and cheer on one another. –firstname.lastname@example.org
2020-02-28 07:27:38 | 4 months ago