The Resilient Parent

The Covid -19 pandemic caught us unaware the first time it showed its unpleasant face 12 months ago! 12 months later, in Round 2 of our rendezvous with this virus while a couple of things have changed, for better or for worse, is not something I shall dwell upon, however, a few things have remained constant, our children, their pivoted learning, their boredom and our surmounting struggle to cope with not just the blanket ‘New Normal’ but also to get a grip on ‘New Parenting’

The struggle, I understand, is not only to keep them engaged but also to ensure minimum damage on the fabric of their ‘Learning’. Through my consultation with various clients in the last 1 year, I have learned of several parents struggling with their own selves, wondering how they fare on the ‘Parenting’ meter, vis-à-vis, their counterparts.

Not too long ago, I was engaged in conversations with two sets of parents, both in a battle with a common predicament ‘The Child, The Pandemic …..AND THE TEMPER TANTRUMS’. One set of parents have two children aged 9 & 11 years, the other set had a slightly younger child, aged 6 years. Through my interaction with these parents, I gathered that these adults and their little humans were a little short of throwing each other off a cliff, in fact, one child used a similar threat on a sibling.

Further digging on my part revealed that sets of parents were now working from home for a year and were still struggling with every possible work and home situation and stress runs high! [And I quote here!] I found myself hovering over the big R----Resilience when I tried to find the ‘Common Denominating Factor’ among these parents.

These parents are surrounded by an unfathomable inner noise which is reflected in their relationship with one another as also in their relationship with their children and above all, themselves! They find themselves snapping at one another very often, getting worked up over worries from their desk, fearing uncertainty and the stress of not being able to handle the stress. Stress running in circles!

Research suggests a correlation between the way parents respond to a challenging/stressful situation and the way their children cope with similar situations in their adult life. Resilient parents are reported to have

more balanced and happy offspring. Resilience is the way we perceive our lives and ‘Perception’, I believe is a very ‘supple’ fellow. A tiny shift, a quick tuck is all it needs to move in the ‘desired’ direction.

Here are a few quick easy amendments you could make in your ‘Parenting Deed’ especially in the current times, so that our children see and experience our real authentic versions and not Version 10.0090976347866359 of ‘A GOOD PARENT’ created by the unwanted external noise.

Be Authentic: While praise can do wonders for a child, flattery can disillusion. Praise congruent to the effort is a good way to keep your child motivated and yet help him/her to strive for better!

Be Consistent: Make sure you do not swap a task at hand for a power nap! If you do, don’t be surprised to often find yourself in dialogues to extend TV time for bedtime. Remember the little humans are watching every step!

Ask for Help: Demonstrate to your children that ‘YOU’ need help, too. Involve them in your daily life. Really important tasks such as fetching a glass of water to get over that heated zoom call, maybe?

Acknowledge the Help: Take time out of that computer screen to thank your children when they give you that glass of water! Tell them how it helped you calm down!

Don’t be a Paradox Parent: Let your children see that you laugh and smile and it’s not only when Michael from ‘The Office’ cracks a joke or when you receive a WhatsApp forward. Show them that you indulge in time ‘OFF SCREEN’ and that way your child will experience ‘mitigated’ screen time!

Look out for BLUE MONKEY: Keep looking out for the games your mind, the blue monkey, plays with you. When the inner critic comes knocking, welcome it, but be quick to show it the exit if all it brought with itself is misery or victimhood as opposed to ‘Insight’.

Accept What is: A strong issue with us is that we have been fed a diet of ‘Control’. The grotesque desire to control everything and then feel let down when you can’t is an ancestral hand me down. The only way to be resilient is to accept that only the controllable is worth making an effort to control.

Respect Each Other: The only way to ensure your kid learns the basic value of ‘Respect For People’ is if you demonstrate it, not just with your partner, but also with the children. Reprimanding a child must never cross boundaries and enter the territories of ‘Humiliation’. Avoid saying “Oh, it’s no wonder you lost your book! You can never keep a single thing properly.” With this one line you have labeled your child, and poked his/her self-esteem! Instead, try using, “Oh you lost your book again! That makes me very sad and I am sure you are upset too! But it seems like WE are losing our things quite often. We need to be more aware of our things. I feel sad that you will be missing out on your studies now! Do you want to try looking one more time?” The entire dialogue avoids the use of negative words {no, not, never, nothing} and yet conveys the message while inviting the child to take more action about the problem.

Be grateful: Let your child witness you counting your blessings and expressing gratitude. Thankful for that morning bloom, that hot cup of tea, or for the canceled meeting? Tell them! Grateful parents essentially contribute by giving the world positive and grateful adults.

Include the 4 Magic words: Thank you! Sorry! Please and I LOVE YOU! Let your child experience the warmth of your hug during the day. You have no idea what a random hug can do to your child’s self-image and self-worth! Be quick to say your sorry and Thank you to them and to each other! When you feel your child is being adamant, try a ‘Please’ instead of ‘Why are you being this adamant?’ My guarantee is you will be surprised by the outcome!

I know that practicing this in our daily lives could be challenging, considering the heap of things we must accomplish. However, incorporating these tiny changes in the exchanges with your children will bring you closer to being ‘That Resilient Parent’ and let them know that you are always on their side. Unless they throw their brother down a cliff! Just kidding!

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