If parenting is an art, it is probably among those dying out for want of proper patronage, said Sheela Chelliah who conducted the session on parenting skills at Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan. Drawing parallels between the 10 core life skills recommended by the World Health Organisation and parenting, Ms. Sheela addressed an array of issues that determine the quality of parenting to mark Mothers Day.
While a presentation coursed through various life skills, such as self-awareness, development of empathy, creative and critical thinking, decision making, problem solving, communicating effectively and coping with emotions and stress, Ms. Sheela pointed out that present-day parenting was bent upon sheltering children from all problems, leaving them no space to mature into adults capable of independent thought and action.
“You cannot sit your children down and teach them these skills. Instead, you must incorporate them into your own lives and be role models they would want to emulate,” she said. Adding that parents these days faced extra competition from powerful media, she requested them to keep fit and attractive to gain the attention of their children.
Rules of the game
Calling it the game of life, she splits the growth of a child into four different age groups and spells out the role of parents at each stage. “Between one to eight years, parents must establish the rules of the game like who's who, the respect each person should be given, the way things must be done and so on,” said Ms. Sheela.
In the next stage, between eight to 14 years, parents are co-players in the game and have to follow the rules they have set.
When the child is over 14 years, the parents become coaches who sidestep from the game to train and motivate. “Above 19 years, the child is on their own, while parents become mere spectators who no longer participate in the game,” she said.
Types of parents
According to Ms. Sheela, there are different kinds of parents: the authoritarian parents who are highly demanding but emotionally less responsive leading to insecurity in their children; the permissive parents who expect nothing and are emotionally very responsive leaving their children loose without guidance; and the negligent parents with neither expectation nor emotional response to their children making their children feel a lack of purpose in their lives.
“It is the autocratic, highly demanding, and emotionally responsive parents who establish the rules of the house, in their children's minds while allowing them to grow into confident, happy adults,” she said.
As a parent, she says, one must be available to the child, appreciate its small victories, show affection, and be accepting of the child's negative traits as well. “Children spell love as time, because to them the fact that you are always available for them means much more than money or material gifts.”
Winding up her presentation with pointers on how to help children build relations with grandparents, siblings, friends, teachers, and subordinate staff like drivers and house maids, Ms. Sheela dwelt briefly upon the significance of sex education.
“Give your child adequate independence, while being there to help when they seem about to fall,” she said . During the interactive session that followed the presentation, parents raised issues like accusations of partiality, work-life balance, and ways of inculcating the habit of reading.