A little birdie told me that ‘good parenting advice’ is not a widely searched keyword by Indians. In India, all parents are considered to be infallible creatures and therefore never do poorly at their job. But if you’re one of those parents or simply a curious reader who wishes to do better or bring about change, then this article is for you.
You’d ask me what makes me qualified to be a parenting expert giving you advice. Well, I’m not a parenting expert. I’m simply a daughter and I believe that’s my ace card.
For generations, Indian parents have been using parenting knowledge passed down to them by their parents. A lot of this advice is sometimes simply dated because of the generational gap. For parents looking for parenting advice, the wisest coach you’ll have is in a child. When you’re parenting your child has every right to express how that parenting feels to them.
My mum recently told me that they didn’t have Instagram therapy growing up to teach them good parenting. But Mum got lucky with me. I always express myself when her parenting doesn’t sit well with me and I’m privileged to have a mother who takes it well.
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Here’s some good parenting advice from a daughter
Healing past trauma
When you decide to be a parent without healing your past trauma, you carry the risk of traumatising your child. Trauma is subjective and is different for everybody. Therefore, there is no single example I could give you to show you what you should be healing from. Let that generational trauma end with you.
Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child
If ever a saying disheartened me, this would make it to the top of that list. It is not alright to physically discipline your child. For the two Indian parents who agree with me here, I commend you for going against the tide.
‘I was hit as a child, I turned out fine!’
No, you didn’t. Now you’re an adult who thinks it’s alright to bully and threaten your child by beating them.
You are larger than your child and are in a position to overpower them. Your child knows it too. What pleasure do you gain from having your child cower in a corner? If your argument is ‘respect’, I’d like to pose this question. Do your superiors in the office beat you up to gain your respect? No?
Children who are physically disciplined lack a sense of worth growing up and grow up to be pushovers or bullies. They also grow up to be adults who justify staying in abusive relationships because that is how love looks to them.
Projecting onto your child
Children often become emotional punchbags for adults with foul tempers. If you’ve had a bad day at work and if you have a nagging child at hand, practice taking a pause and telling them ‘later’ or ‘pappa needs time to themselves right now’ instead of taking your temper out on them. It’s difficult growing up as a child in Indian society. We’re discouraged from speaking our minds against an elder even when we feel wronged by their behaviour. The only outlet we have is to cry and even then we seem to be disturbing the adults in the house.
Encourage emotional expressions
‘Don’t cry, you’re a strong girl.’
‘Boys don’t cry.’
When you say this to your child, you let them know that expressing emotions is a weakness. Such children grow up to bottle up emotions only to have emotional outbursts or put on a charade of masculinity. They also sometimes grow up to be adults who have unspoken expectations in relationships.
Practice saying, ‘I’m here’ when children cry so that they know they’re safe around you. This allows them to regulate themselves better. Children who do not express themselves have more difficulty regulating their emotions than children who do. One cannot heal from what one doesn’t address and crying allows one to address.
Spare the taunts
Something that confused me growing up was the use of taunts and sarcasm. The use of taunts and sarcasm can be interpreted as passive aggression. Yes, children often repeat the same mistakes, but one likely already knows that when they decide to parent. Therefore, it is not fair to the child to be on the receiving end of passive aggression for not being able to keep pace with the parent’s standards.
The views expressed by the author are their own.