You’re A Good Parent, Yes?
Being a good professional has its drawbacks. The more you rise, the greater your responsibilities. At the same time, your kids are growing up and your parents are growing old, so your all-round stress increases
Being a good professional has its drawbacks. The more you rise, the greater your responsibilities. At the same time, your kids are growing up and your parents are growing old, so your all-round stress increases. Inevitably, something gets neglected, and it’s most often the kids. While most of us put our kids first, our pace of life doesn’t allow us to stop and think: is the emotional upbringing of my child as strong as fulfilling his/her physical needs?
I’m bringing this up because very often, while my focus is nutrition, my therapy hat comes on when I take on couples or entire families and I am appalled to see the kind of unintentional pressure on kids, especially pre-puberty and teenaged ones. These kids are dealing with their own stressors like peer pressure, body image issues, bullying in many cases (victim or being the bully), academics and an under-confidence arising from too many choices and an inability to decide a way forward.
Teenaged kids need a structure in their lives that reassures them but that structure shouldn’t be school-to-lunch-to- tennis-class-to-snack-to-SAT-class-to-homework-to-dinner-to-bed. So how can you get over the angst of upbringing while doing your daily work? Here are some tips:
Take time out: I don’t mean holidays with the family, but simply keeping your phone aside and having a conversation. Even if your child seems to be around you, he/she has their own dreams, notions and desires, and you need to know these to be able to guide them better, because they don’t know the world and the choices out there. From clothes to career options, they need conversations, discussions, debates before they can feel confident about a way forward.
Treat them with respect: Remember, you don’t like to be talked down to in your office by your seniors, similarly they don’t like to be talked down to by you. A kid who gets respect at home commands it outside. A kid who doesn’t, demands it outside. The latter then grows up to be a bully.
Don’t take the career counselor too seriously: It’s a competitive world, we know. But it’s also a world where there are many options, and getting committed to one career isn’t all that serious as it used to be. I’ve seen engineers become writers, writers become nutritional therapists (me), salesmen becoming yoga gurus. It’s a transient world. If your kid doesn’t want to choose a career, let them go with the flow. These years won’t come back, let them be. As long as they know they can turn to you for anything, it’s fine.
Pay attention to their eating habits: A recent health report gave statistics about rising obesity and type-2 diabetes in urban kids. Why is this happening? A child’s immunity and stomach are stronger than ours, and it’s not junk food to blame unless we’ve left them with no choice. Make family eating time fun, and you will see everyone eat healthy homemade food. Spend less time with kids and you’ll see them reach for junk. And if a teenager is emotionally disturbed, he/she does stress eating. This means obesity or hormonal issues or acne or fatigue or mood swings. If your child has any two of these, start paying attention to where the emotional void is. And fill it with your presence, not food.
Lastly, love: Nonjudgmental, unconditional love is what our kids need. When was the last time you said, “I don’t care what your grades are, I love you no matter what.” Kids blossom with that reassurance. Also, fill your home with love for each other. A bickering home has unhappy kids. I read somewhere, “The greatest gift a man can give to his child is to love the mother.”
Time to gift your kids a loving future?
This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated 'Nov. 28, 2016' with cover story titled 'Short-term Pain For Long-term Gain?'
Around The World