A couple of columns ago, I wrote about the states of motherhood. This time, I thought of wearing a different cap. What is it really that our kids want from us? Are we as parents able to understand their needs — even after our children are in a position to articulate them clearly? Or are we so caught up in our daily ‘role’ playing that we cannot fix the generation gap that is bound to divide us in oh-so-subtle ways. And here I am not referring to the basic needs of food, clothing or even monetary demands that increase as a child grows. Rather, I am referring to feelings, states of emotion and the like. And these are lessons I learnt as my kids grew up.
Trust: Exactly two years ago, Gaurav gave his SSC exam. As I am penning this, he is giving his HSC exam. Paranoid mom that I am, this time, he knew how to deal with my worry. One night, after I had sent an SOS to my daughter, Aakanksha, he sat me down and explained his POA. Although I could not “just chill”, I trusted that he knew himself best. And perhaps just as his sister, Aakanksha, and his cousin, Jyotsna, knew him perhaps more than I did. For both in their own way helped him — the former by teaching him till late at night and the latter by talking to him. I show trust in my daughter, who lives in Pune, in a different way. I have learnt to trust that she knows what she is doing. And so her nights out or trips with friends have become a seamless part of my psyche.
Confidence: The confidence we show in our kids in turn gives them confidence that they are doing the right thing. Often, as they have grown older, my baccha log have asked, “Mom, is this what I should do?” even as they have often told me, “Mom, this is what I am doing.” In the latter case, I have questioned and checked if whatever they wanted to do was in my comfort zone. In the former, I have — to the best of my intelligence and ability — given them the guidance they sought.
Unconditional love: I am a mere mortal and if I were to count the mistakes of my life they would be many more than Chetan Bhagat’s three. Looking back, over the last two decades, I realise there have been many occasions when I have berated my children – whether fairly or not – for what I conceived as a misdemeanour. But, through it all, I have tried, in my own way, to give them the assurance that no matter what, my love for them is not measured by external factors like results, jobs, friends, relationships or mistakes. Through it all I have tried to preach and practice the lesson — learn from what has happened, and put it behind you.
Acceptance: Living in a competitive world, it is natural for parents to expect the best from our child even as we try to give them the best in life. But we have to accept them as they are — all children are not 9 point something achievers. Each has his own talent pool into which he dips, each matures and peaks at different moments in life. It is tough not to compare a sibling to another, or with the world and its kids. But this comparison is unfair and can only cause more stress than joy.
Freedom: Everyone — even a small infant — likes to have the freedom to express themselves.
Our kids need that and it’s something you learn as the years go by. Even as we let them do what they can and want, we still need to provide them with a safety net — one they may continue to need till they are much, much older. But, to give a simple example, if my parents let me do what I wanted in my personal and professional case, what right do I have to curtail my kids? So, I have to let them be, and on occasion when I have done that believe me, they have made me proud. And, don’t forget, a bird learns how to fly in his own nest.
The writer, Executive Editor, Verve, is, in her personal space, often driven to distraction by her two growing ‘young adults’, but she loves the madness of it all