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As a working mother, I have constantly carried the guilt of not being there for my little one all the time. This led to my decision to make sure that once I was home, Nick did not see me busy with anything else. Though, I did not get too far away with this decision of mine, because I would always want to cook/bake something new in the kitchen at the first opportunity presented to me. This I could only do if I exonerated the maid of her culinary duties and take care of Nick. But I did see to it, that my son did not see me busy on the Phone (Smartphone to be precise) or on my laptop once I was back home. Thankfully I was able to keep up with this practice and take to check mails/ messages on my phone only once Nick was asleep or out to play.
I expected the same from my husband, that once he was home he should not engage in long phone calls until midnight (given the nature of his business) and not spend too much time pondering over his accounts books at home. My reasoning and argument were quite understood. If the child does not have both his parents around him all day long, it is only logical and in the spirit of his positive growth and development that we provide him an environment of undivided attention for whatever time we were at home. And thus for last 3 years we have followed this practice at home. Until one day I encountered a counter logic.
It was the orientation program at Nick's new school (not the playgroup, the one where he in all likeliness spend the next 15 years of his life). The student counselor's address provided some useful insights into positive upbringing of children (plan to put it in a separate blog). But the one that shattered my belief of undivided attention to the child struck me like a lightening. And the more I think about it, the more I come to appreciate it and agree with it.
So what is it that Mr. Counselor said?
He was talking on inculcating positive habits among kids. The best way to get your kids to start behaving right is by demonstrating that very right behavior for them to observe and learn. This is not a path-breaking discovery for any parent. We apply this concept almost all the time we know that the kids are observing us. Elders try and talk politely, avoid arguments, discourage aggressive behavior in front of kids and do all those house chores that we expect the kid to emulate. I remember I have so many times reminded my husband to pick up his plates after having his dinner and keep them for washing, so that I could inculcate this habit into Nick right from his early days.
Oh, so I was telling you all, how and why Mr. Counselor came to talking about parents working at home. He said that it is of paramount significance that your kid sees you busy and working at home time and again. His elaborate logic was, if you display behavior that emphasizes on the value of working at home, your kid will automatically associate significance to his own homework and home-tasks from school.
Trust me! His logic had me bowled over.
He further said that you should make sure that your child observes you engaged in serious office work now and then. He advocated use of phrases like, "Dear! When I go to office every day, my 'Sir/Madam' gives me some work to be completed by the next day. That's my homework.", or, "I have been given this homework which I ought to complete within so and so timeline. Let me concentrate and finish it off asap. And then we can play together."This he said was a positive reinforcement of the concept of homework. And the child will learn to respect the work assigned to him and not dread it. As he was saying this, I had an absolutely impulsive reaction (only in mind of course), "What about the stay at home mothers?", "Does he mean to say that the SAHM cannot do much to help their kids to come to liking their homework and not consider it as a burden?"
As he had telepathically read my mind, Mr. Counselor added, "It is not that only Fathers or working Moms can help instill this positive emotion regarding homework." According to him Stay At Home Moms could also emulate the behavior by allocating a specific time to all their household record keeping activities when their toddler is around. The idea is that he/she should observe her do some serious job while scribbling her way through a diary/notebook. If nothing else, you could spend some time reading a book/novel of your choice everyday at the same time and/or in an elaborate set up that depicts similar working conditions every day.
The crux of the matter is that your kids should develop an affirmative view to the concept of homework. A part and parcel of everybody's life, homework is not a burden but an essential task to be accomplished towards a larger goal.
So, a call to all the parents out there who willing/unwilling have to spend some more time with their work with guilt! Bring it on! There finally is one logic to encourage you to do some more work that will take you closer to your deadlines :)