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My 2.5 year old tiny tot has been following a peculiar routine for the past two months. Every evening, after his bath, he picks out his own nightclothes. Never mind the fact that I’ve already picked out clothes for him that match his twin brother. Never mind the fact that he’s all of 2.5 and wants only to wear his favourite striped vest to bed. Never mind the fact that he’s somehow figured out where I keep his clothes and how I’ve organized them. Never mind the fact that he NEVER ever picks out day clothes to wear at night.
He knows which part of his wardrobe has the nightwear, and makes a beeline straight for it once he is out of the bathroom. (I’m saying it again- he’s only 2.5!)
Aaj Kal Ke Bacche, my mom exasperatedly says when I tell her this.
Aaj Kal Ke Bacche, my friends laughingly say when ask if their kids are doing the same.
Aaj Kal Ke Bacche, his class teacher says when I ask her if they are teaching him to “choose” things in school.
Aaj Kal Ke Bacche, I think to myself. I don’t EVER remember picking out my own clothes, till the time I was 12 or 13 years old probably. Even now, the typical mama’s girl that I am, to get dressed for a family occasion, my first choice of consultation as to which outfit to wear is usually my mom.
So this led to me questioning about my parenting skills. About this freedom to choose.
I am of the opinion that when it comes to the crossroads that all kids find themselves at for every instance as time passes by, they should be given enough freedom from moms and dads to make their own choice and try and stick by it. This I feel will help them to define who they want to be, and how they wish to live their lives.
I just never thought that my child, at the tender age of 2.5, would find himself at the crossroads just yet.
It obviously starts with simple things like what to wear, what not to wear, how to wear and moves onto bigger challenges. I believe a 10 year old girl should be able to choose the colours she wants in her room. I believe a 13 year old boy should be able to decide what activity he wants to take up in school, cricket, football, etc. without getting pressurized by the performances of his family before him. So by corollary, I should be OK with the fact that my little one wants to decide what to wear, right?
Or, is it that we, as parents, owe it to our future generation to somehow make them understand and realize that we are the ones who absolutely know and understand what is best for them?
Hmmm...something worth thinking about. Maybe we should try and find a balance between things that we insist upon and things that we should just let them think over and decide themselves.
My parenting philosophy tells me to be respectful about decisions, especially when I have decided to give my kids the choice to decide certain things that will have an influential sway on their own destiny.
Decisions, that I am sure will make them well grounded individuals, rather than them growing up in a scenario that is dictated by grown-ups who have their best interest at heart but just keep on shoving the exact same theories, traditions, and beliefs down their kid’s necks that were shoved down theirs and so on and so on back generation after generation.
Of course, no parent can ever let their guard down at all when it comes to our kids; we have so much to teach them and they need us around for a billion bits of advice. I think that most young people understand that (well, for the most part).
Yet, there are a lot of things that they can probably decide on their own, without too much of our influence, too. And it is those decisions that I think will often be the ones that ultimately convince them that we trust them inherently; and that we love them unconditionally.
Think about it.
Here are a few thoughts:-
1) Play- Logically, we should encourage our kids to play as much as possible when they are young. Just refrain from giving them too many instructions about how to play, where to play, when to play, etc. Hey, I’m the kind of mom who believes that as long as my kids are safe, they are doing it the right way.
2) Childhood Nicknames- These are so tricky as everybody remembers them once we start using them. My eldest nephew Nishchay was automatically nicknamed Nishu, we just shortened his name. Until one fine day he turned 10 and blasted all of us in the middle of a family function “I have a perfectly good name, so please stop calling me with this short silly name that is a girl’s name!” If your child EVER gives you the impression that he hates his nickname, heed that call and stop using it pronto.
3) Spending “THEIR” Money- If your kids are older than say, 2 or 3, then they are probably ready to start being able to decide what they want to buy with their pocket money. Guide them through the consumer process as much as you can and let them decide what it is that they get to take buy, while reminding them that it is their job to take care of their new purchase and everybody wins.
4) Occupational Choice- Always, ALWAYS encourage kids in the occupational dreams they mention. If they say fireman or cobbler, say of course. Whether an astronaut or a doctor or Mickey Mouse, any idea is good as it’s a sign of them of them exploring all their options creatively. No matter what kids’ dream of being, we should always just go along with it and never ever waste a second of time or energy trying to egg them on in a different direction.
5) Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy- Let kids believe in what they want to believe in, especially stuff that thrills them or makes them happy! They will figure out reality as they get older.
6) Socializing- Kids always seem way more willing and excited to get to know a person before they decided anything about them. Therefore, keep an open eye on who your child is hanging out with (like any good parent should do), but resist the temptation to pass judgement on any of their young friends whenever you possibly can. Also, don’t ever get too alarmed on noticing that your child likes to spend a chunk of their time riding solo, okay! I think it’s a natural and healthy and totally okay.
7) Using “Smart” Devices- While I am an active believer in the power of books, I also understand that kids love playing with tablets, and quickly get the hang of them. So we as parents should attempt to teach our kids to find a balance- one that leads to them being technologically savvy, using it for improving their mental, problem solving and creative skills while not being addicted to their devices so much so that their life revolves around it.
8) Reading Stories- Reading a story to my little ones is the best part of my day and letting my kids pick out a favourite story to hear, even if it is the same darn one for many months on end, is a simple and valuable way to show them, from an early age, that I love it when they follow their little hearts and make up their own minds.
Our Aaj Kal Ke Bacche are our favourite people in this world. And I think that it's such a cool thing to gift them-the ability to really help decide their own path from an early age.
Do you think that too? I certainly hope you do!
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