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Children are born with predetermined dispositions, attributes, inclinations and temperaments that a parent can foster, perhaps modify or hone but rarely change. “Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do” – Matt Walsh. Yet, I find my opinionated self typing frantically.
Parenting is certainly a learning process and while there can be guidelines, that is all they can do –guide. There is no manual that is universally applicable. In order to parent well, we must understand our child’s personality and chose the path of parenting accordingly. Every child is unique and it is up to the parent to assist the child to be the best version that the child can be.
I came across a few life stories that made me think of parenting styles. One story was on AAmir Khan’s show Satyamev Jayate where Ghazal Dhaliwal shared her story. She realized that she suffered from gender dysphoria at the age of 17. In her younger years she had been very confused and contemplated to commit suicide. Gazal made a documentary about gender dysphoria, following which her parents offered their support in her decision to undergo a sex-change operation.
If anyone saw the show, you would marvel at this beautiful happy girl, supported by her family. She was thrilled with her new life, her story, her career even though she was not sure if she would ever find a partner. What emerged was that she was a confident person despite her struggles and loved herself.
Not too long ago, I came across the headlines in the paper - Leo Varadkar, gay son of Indian immigrant, to be next Irish PM. He is also a Dr and qualified as a general practitioner in 2010. I felt multiple emotions as I read this. I thought a Dr, a gay PM and son of an Indian immigrant in Ireland and he is only 38. I am not sure what kind of a PM he would make but I do pray that he’s successful in his journey. His parents I believe are tired of people mentioning the fact that he is gay, but they appreciate that the world is simply marveling at the fact that his sexual orientation does not really matter in his choice of career.
I came across another piece on the internet about a mother who is photographing her 5 year old son in dresses to shatter stereotypes. She apparently offers he son the choice to wear boys and girls clothing and he mostly chooses the dress for his love of the twirl. I salute this mother for celebrating her son’s choice.
All of the above examples are based on and around the subject of sexual orientation. But these examples made me think of the parents of these children and the choice and the methodology of parenting they may have adopted. They probably fought against social norms and raised children that felt worthy of themselves- always. Perhaps, they never lost sight of their children’s happiness and fought against all odds if that’s what it took. And that is what i wish to imbibe.
Being a parent is full of challenges and we must be willing to learn every day. Sometimes, we as parents tend to focus on the immediate issues of teaching morals, control, time management and minimising household turmoil, and in the process of addressing all of these needs; we may forget that our primary job should be to raise children with a healthy self-image and self-esteem. Children who love themselves and who we as parents ought to love, regardless of the way they are born — gay or straight, highly intelligent or less so, lean or chubby, shy and quiet or outgoing and social, gentle or tough or good eaters or picky ones.
It has been attested by many experienced and veteran parents and psychologists that forcing children almost always backfires. Of course parents must provide opportunities and expose their child to activities that perhaps that he/she may not be naturally inclined towards. We must try and broaden our child’s horizons but we must not enforce our choices and our likes and dislikes. Parenting ought to be not just about telling and teaching but about involving. Let’s learn from the parents of the children that have incredible stories. Let’s try and give our children the roots so they belong and wings so they can fly.
Please do share your comments and opinions and also read gender neutrality-how far has the modern parent come and ode to the working mother.