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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Just a Mom





Time was people would call their parents for parenting tips, or the doctor for advice on keeping the kids healthy. But not anymore. These are the days of internet. Every time my kid so much as sneezes, the first thing I reach for is the phone, to talk to my mom, but I also log into the information superhighway for clarifications! How sad is that? 

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for information gathering. I believe that well informed people make smarter decisions. But what I am experiencing right now is an information overload!  Well if I do go in search of tips, advices, personal experiences, understandable. But what is happening right now is that I am being deluged with parenting techniques.

It starts right from the moment we realize we are pregnant. In my friend circle, almost all my friends own, have read or at least have heard about the “What to Expect” series. I own an edition of “What to expect when you are expecting” by Heidi Murkoff. I have read the book from end to end – my husband had to forcibly pry it off my hands once I got admitted to the hospital! And I imagined each and every scenario that could possibly go wrong (as described in the book). And trust me, I am not the only “first time” paranoid mom – I have heard similar stories from plenty of others!  I can see some of you shaking your heads and saying “If you are such a basket case, who asked you to read it?” Well, all I had to do was turn around at the doctor’s place, or visit a friend, the book would be staring me in the eye!

Once my baby became a toddler, I purchased the book “Positive Discipline” by Jane Nelsen. I have read about half of it in bits and pieces – not nearly enough to incorporate into life. Thankfully, did not really need it – we had a comparatively less eventful toddlerhood!  And now is the phase of “Tiger Moms” and “Bebe Moms”!

The Wall Street Journal prominently featured two authors that caught the attention of people. Sometime back it was Yale Law professor Amy Chua who wrote "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. Recently it is author Pamela Druckerman and her new book,” Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting”. The first booked triggered off heated debates about whether the Chinese methods of extreme parenting were better than the kid glove methods adopted by their American counterparts. Wall Street Journal even came up with a counter attack article regarding the same with an American mom justifying the way kids are treated here. The second book is about French parenting methods. This book is also generating a lot of interest, though less than the first one. I have not read either of these books, but have read both the articles in the Wall Street Journal. Both articles imply that the Chinese moms and French mom are superior respectively to the American moms.

I am an Indian bringing up my child here in the land of plenty. Now my question is what category am I in? If I am talking about a specific culture, I being an Indian can definitely identify to some extent with the Tiger Mom. I do not condone severe punishment to make sure the child does what is expected of him/her. But I do believe in pushing my child to aim higher. I am not one to dole out a “Good Job” even if my son does something poorly, but I don’t exactly insult him or threaten starvation to do better! I am not the calm and poised mom who refuses to get provoked by anything either. I do indulge in a good bit of yelling and screaming to get my point across – I can see hubby dearest vigorously nodding his head at that! But it gets the job done! Not that I am encouraging everyone to go on a shouting spree.

All I am saying is follow your instinct. As a parent, I need to believe that I am doing the right thing. If I am not confident, my kid is going sense it and take advantage of the situation. Sure it’s a good idea to get to know what other parents do, but we should know what is best suited to us. So, my kid didn’t exactly sit calm and quite in restaurants and eat on his own when strapped into a high chair, but he did not throw things around or create a scene either! He needed attention - we gave it, he needed a distraction – we provided it. And we enjoyed eating out. I have spent many a sleepless night during the early days because I couldn’t let him cry himself back to sleep, but he did outgrow it gradually – and now I miss all the cuddling! He is not the perfect angel child – he has his share of acting out every now and then – but isn’t that what a child does?

I like to believe that I am maintaining the fine line between that of an overindulgent parent and that of an out and out strict one. I don’t plan on being my child’s best friend until much later in his life. He is going to have plenty of friends – but only one mom! But I don’t want to teach him about delayed gratification or how to be independent. He is going to learn all that soon enough! For now I would just like him to have a normal childhood spending plenty of time with his parents without being terrorized into aiming for the stars! Sure I am going to crave some alone time or tear my hair out with worrying over some behavior of his or the other. But that’s all in a day’s work. And for those occasions when I am at my wits end as to what needs to be done – I’ll turn to mommy dearest of course! What say you?

For the article on Amy Chua, go to 

For the article on Pamela Druckerman, go to 

2 comments:

  1. Very well written. I just felt a reflection of my own thoughts about my practices on parenting. I have sometimes felt guilty about being so rough with my kid to 'discipline' her. But after peeking into your experiences, I think parenting is all about understanding your child and bringing him/her up using the right levels of strictness and love and no one could say how to bring up your child better than you.

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  2. Thanks Narmada. We are all learning from our mistakes & experiences and growing each day into better parents (I hope!!) :)- Rosemary

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