This parenting business is getting quite complex.
I wonder how our parents got the wisdom to raise us. What are the risks they took? How did they arrive at decisions they believed are right for us? I am having to take decisions everyday – not one, several decisions. Decisions I know can have a big impact on a child’s life, but they come hurling at me at a speed that doesn’t favour serious thinking and research or deep analysis. Gotta make those decisions on the go. I am the Chief Executive of this complex company that my growing toddler is building.
As Myrah moves to her “terrible two” phase, I can see the onslaught coming! My patience is being tested, my anger management skills have to kick in, I have to go to the negotiating table every now and then. How much discipline is good discipline? When does the loving pampering mom give way to the strict parent? At what point should I raise my voice to make a point? When should I stop wondering if I should force her down and shove food down her throat (I must admit there are times when I have had the urge to do that!)? How do I teach her to share, and stop fighting with other kids when they take her stuff? At which age should I insist that she can’t leave the bathroom after eating the paste, instead of brushing her teeth?
Myrah is increasingly developing a mind of her own and is showing (screaming) it too. She can cry at the drop of a hat, throw things around to show displeasure, push and shove to display her anger, turn her face the other side when I look her in the eye with a strict face, refuse to open her mouth to eat, adamantly say no to sitting in her car seat (at which point we have to pretend we are leaving without her!) and prostrate on the ground in protest right in the middle of a parking lot.
I am not sure if there is a right or wrong answer. As parents we have to deal with these situations in the best way possible for us. I have to figure out what is the boundary I want to draw for me and my child, under circumstances that are unique to me. And stick to them. And believe they are the right choices.
Not only does one have to negotiate with the child, one has to navigate the spouse too. Be ready to sharpen your team spirit and willingness to compromise if you and your spouse don’t agree on some of the boundaries. Or you might be the one kicking and screaming in protest! As mothers, women tend to want to handle things in the most ideal way. We want to push ourselves, thinking we can make things perfect. Men tend to take things more easy, and don’t have the patience to make things perfect. Or maybe they are just more practical. Women keep trying, they don’t give up so easily.
And then there is everybody around you that you have to manoeuvre in the whole process. How much easier would it be if you are the only one managing your child’s behaviour and habits and development! There is the day care, the teachers who guide her most of the day, the family who want to have their say and implement their way, the community we are surrounded with, who naturally have a role in our lives. Each one has a different style and a different perspective.
But, ultimately, you are the CEO. It is your call. Your decisions. Your compromise. Some will turn out to be good, and there will definitely be mistakes. CEOs learn on the job too. You watch, you learn, you take guidance from those who have walked the path before you, you talk to experts. You form your expectations and design your vision and go about it with a sense of mission. Use your gut, your heart and mind. You toddler is yours to manage.