My parents did a tremendous job in bringing us up. Apart from pushing themselves so that we could get the best, they raised extremely independent strong-willed people. I didn’t even realize how well we were raised until I recently had a conversation with my older brother. My younger brother had his friends over and they were making an awful amount of noise, leaving fingerprint marks all over the TV, jumping on the seats and generally causing a lot of commotion in the house. We thought to ourselves how different things were when we were young.
For starters, we weren’t allowed anywhere close to the television. We couldn’t even go to anyone’s house without permission and if we ever did, we would sit quietly and shyly in a corner. The punishment for going against any of these rules was being grounded from going out for a few days. On top of that, we would receive a frightening lecture followed by a stern warning about repeating these mistakes. Looking back, we both agreed that there were definitely pros to the disciplinary system my parents had raised us in.
However, there are a few things that I believe they could have done in a better way and still achieved the same results. For this reason, I choose to raise my children slightly differently from the way I was raised.
- I will teach them to seek answers and reasons behind everything they are involved in
Most people in the older generation were raised to do things without really questioning them. There are traditions that up to date don’t make much sense but people still believe in them. If you dare question any of these things, they shut you down quickly saying, “That’s just how things are done.” Some part of me always wants to learn the reasons why things are done the way that they are. Because it makes no sense to follow blindly without knowing exactly why you’re doing things in that particular way. I believe that is the importance of learning history: It serves as a guide to the future by breaking down the origin of traditions and cultures. It’s an extremely important tool. Curiosity has been the basis of so many inventions, and for good reason.
Therefore, I will raise my children in a way that they can comfortably seek more questions about the systems of this world.
- I will teach them to be free-spirited souls; and not to care too much about what people think
Not to be hyper-critical, but a lot of people from the older generation are guided by this nonsensical question: What will people say?
This brings so many problems without even knowing it. If you are guided by what the majority of people think, say and do, you will continue to live life in a bubble. You will never be able to leave your comfort zone because at every juncture the question will pop up. You will always find people who are against what you do. That is guaranteed.
I will teach my children that everybody’s path is different and we must recognize that. We should live our lives authentically, free from the fact that people might not like what we do. What people say or think is never and should never be our business. We are unique souls created for different purposes, and to fulfil that we sometimes need to go against the current.
- I will instil respect without fear of us as parents
A lot of us were raised in an environment where we were extremely scared of our parents. My primary school had a detention system of discipline. It consisted of a punishment every Wednesday evening for two hours. I used to take the school bus which left at around 3.30 pm, and so detention meant that my parents had to pick me up from school. Occasionally I would get one for not doing my homework, being late to game practice or noise making. I remember being so terrified by the fact that I would have to notify my parents and be yelled at for a good thirty minutes.
Why didn’t you do your homework?
You can’t keep forgetting to do the things that you’re supposed to do!
Do you have any idea how much you’re disorganizing me?
Laura, I’m tired of hearing this story!
For the next few weeks, every mistake that I made would be attributed to that detention.
“You forgot to make your bed today? That’s exactly how you get detentions. Always forgetting to do the right thing.”
Apart from this breaking the emotional connection that I had with my parents, I became so fearful that I hardly ever spent time with them. I will raise my children in a way that mistakes will be recognized but not dwelt on. The aura around us will be comfortable. Fear and respect are two different things, and I believe that you can raise your children to respect you without being scared of you.
- I will not raise my voice at my children
Sometimes you get so consumed by your anger and the only way to express it is through yelling. You may end up saying things that you didn’t even mean in the first place. When you do this to a child, you make them extremely emotionally fragile. The worst thing is that this may follow them to their adulthood.
I, for one, get serious anxiety when someone raises their voice at me even slightly and I believe strongly that it stems from my childhood. My thought process gets distorted and my fingers start to fumble. Even a slight change in tone through text that sounds rude or harsh makes me seriously nervous.
That’s why I choose to do things differently when it comes to my children. I don’t believe that a loud voice instils lessons any better than a calm tone. If anything, it is easier to listen and internalize what is being said when you are in a calm state.
5. I will create a system of open communication within the household
A few months ago I was in an extremely sad space. Someone who I thought was my close friend attempted to sexually assault me. I couldn’t bring myself to speak about it openly at home. This was bearing down on my soul and the fact that I kept everything bottled up worsened the situation. It was so painful to see that everyone’s life went on as usual as I suffered internally. Aside from it being an uncomfortable discussion, I chose not to speak about it because I didn’t want to transfer my pain to them.
One day I got so fed up that I just decided to tell them, and I have never regretted doing so. Although we didn’t really speak about it much after that, their advice and emotional presence went a long way in my healing process. Looking back at the situation, I realize how important it is to be able to openly discuss the things that are weighing you down, especially with your family. It wasn’t enough for me to speak to my friends about it, because friends cannot understand you the way that your family does. Therefore I will raise my children to be able to discuss the most intimate things with me without fear or shame.
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