Raising a perfectly imperfect child

We all strive for perfection. We all wish to be the epitome of perfection. Be it in beauty, success or relationships — we wish for a perfect life.

This seeps down into parenting too. We wish to raise perfect kids. And I feel that is one of the earliest parenting mistakes.

My blog is aimed wholly and solely at being a Nirvanama — a mother who is at ultimate peace and calm. It doesn’t aim at being a perfect mother— because alas, there is none.

I would twist the logic around and say that there should be none. If you wish to strive for something that is naturally (and physically and mathematically) impossible, you will just end up in misery.

Unknowingly, we are passing down this misery to our kids too — by trying to raise perfect kids and trying to teach our toddlers to be perfect.

Everything in his world is divided into good and bad since day one. Don’t cry because good kids don’t cry, bad kids do. Don’t get angry because good kids don’t. Don’t yell because good kids don’t.  All we are doing is programming our kids to strive to achieve the holy grail — The “Achha bachha” (the good kid).

And our little obedient toddler who clings onto every word her heroes (mom and dad) say sets out on a journey to become the ultimate achha bachha!

I am definitely not against teaching good and bad to kids. They should surely know the difference. They should definitely know the repercussions of their choice. There are some great techniques for the same that I would love to discuss in another post.

However in the effort of drilling down this fact, we as parents, tend to forget to teach one important thing — we are all made of imperfections. We all have shortcomings.

As important as it is to teach moral values, it is equally important to teach our children to have a sense of humor and laugh at their own imperfections. To be able to take their own imperfections in their own stride.

For that you have to first let them know that it’s okay to have shortcomings.

I have been open about the fact that I have the worst memory in the world. My daughter sees me tracking my phone around the house half of the time. She sees me reach the mall and realize I have forgotten to carry my wallet.

But, most importantly, she has seen me laugh at myself for it. I keep telling her how I waste my time just searching for my things. And how my things won’t be lost if I had kept them in the right place.

Is this the reason that has made her overtly cautious about keeping her things well arranged- I would never know that for sure. But I do know that for a 3-year-old, she is OCD-level organized!

I did, however, happily witness one outcome of this technique yesterday. While visiting a local Gurudwara, my daughter fell into the shallow water pit where one is supposed to wash one’s feet before entering. She was drenched wet from head to toe! Soaked completely. And while I waited for a reaction, she amazed me by laughing loudly at her public debacle. She carried herself up and visited the Gurudwara all dripping wet. She told the priest and everybody she met how funny it was and how clumsy of her to fall.

When your 3-year-old learns to laugh after a public disgrace and not get embarrassed or scared or start howling, there must be something to the technique. Isn’t it?

Yes, there are umpteen things we need to teach our kids. We have a Pandora box of knowledge and experience we wish to pass down in the best and fastest way possible. And there are equally high numbers of blogs, books and advisors which tell you about tips and tricks to transition your baby into the most successful, most intelligent and most healthy kid.

However, I would request you to make a little change and incorporate what most books forget to address- “teaching a sense of humor to your kids”. This is such a powerful technique that you shall see the results in a few day of incorporating in your active parenting.

Having a happier kid is an obvious direct outcome of this strategy. But there are many positive outcomes- you seem to reach your kid better, your kid understand you better and it’s a great teaching technique.

You shall also be addressing many issues of later years in one go that we see cropping up in teens today- frustration, peer pressure, depression and performance anxiety. These have led to an increase in teenage suicide rate and childhood depression. And all these have their root in a small and simple issue — lack of ability to accept and laugh at our own failure and shortcomings.

So, this week your task in parenting is:

“Have a sense of humor. Have the ability to laugh at yourself. And pass this on to your kid. ”

This will set you on your journey to become Nirvanama and raise a Nirvana kid.

Happy parenting!

(This post was first published at TOI blogs on oct 28, 2015)

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