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As I watched a baby product advertisement that had the mother expressing how she felt protective about her baby, I felt a hint of tears in my eyes. The ad had caught the mother’s nerve. The first feeling one gets as a mother is to protect the baby from anything harmful. Starting from protecting her from cold or heat and germs, the list grows endless. I recalled how I used to do umpteen things such as washing hands before picking her up, ironing her clothes myself ( to disinfect after drying in the sun), putting her bed in the sun etc., when she was an infant.
My preteen daughter’s voice brought me to the present. She was going down to play with her friends. I found myself saying “Remember, not to take the elevator if there is a stranger or single person in it!” I realized that I was still in the protecting mode. Well nothing wrong with it. I guess each parent stays in that mode throughout life.
However, an important part of good parenting is to protect the kids by making them aware. Awareness about the various dangers is the first step to protection. Whether it is awareness about health and hygiene or awareness about physical safety, it is the key to staying protected and safe.
When we instil the habit of washing hands before eating, we actually make the kids aware of the perils of germs and diseases. Similarly, when we talk to them about the possible sexual predators or the dangers of virtual world, we are making them aware of what can cause harm and what they need to do to be safe. This is the way to protect them. As the saying goes, knowledge is the strongest weapon, sharing the knowledge at the right time and in the right way is what prepares our kids for the world. Therefore, it is important to keep ourselves abreast with whatever is relevant for the kids to know and then educate them about the subject.
The other side of being aware is keeping connected with the kids and being aware of their world. Yes, you read it right – they have a different world too other than the one we live in with them. Their friend circle, peer group, teachers at school, coaches etc. form their world and we are a part of their world. It is critical that we be aware of this world and its happenings. Regular communication with the kids and listening and showing interest in their conversations is a good way of achieving this seemingly simple task.
I learnt this through my mistake. Often when my son would start talking about school on returning, I would say “Eat your food first and then we will talk.” Till one day when I realized he did not say anything about the day at school. The next day same thing happened and all I could get when I asked ‘How was school?” was ‘OK’. Slowly, my repeated tries got him to start talking again and opened that world of his to me.
That way I get to know about the people he deals with, the friends he has and the ones he lost. It also makes me aware of his social interactions and his related strengths and areas where he needs support….and I protect him from pitfalls by guiding him where possible.
So being aware of our kids and making the kids aware is an important and oft ignored aspect of parenting. Let’s focus on it and give them the power of protection