Parenting is a forever process; ask my mom she’ll tell you. Both her children are close to their 40’s and she still continues to parent. There is a fine line between a being a parent and parenting. Me, I am trying hard to parent, being a parent comes by default.
It took me all but a bunch of great articles and a fabulous movie about a great kid to get me thinking; what makes a good parent? I set out on a journey a very conscious one and it made me hit the reset button on my life. Imagine a day in any parent’s life; you go from being good, bad and ugly not necessarily in that order several times a day. You give your children unconditional love; the right value system (one that appeals to you), protection and hopefully some great DNA and set them free to venture into this vast universe. But wait there is surely something amiss here? So I ask myself if this really enough to prepare my children for what’s out there?
The theory of nature vs. nurture works it way around us only to a certain point after which there a billion gray areas that need deeper introspection. Behaviorists and Evolution experts may have very valid arguments on the how’s and why’s of these gray areas but there are scenarios that need a little more explanation than just those two points of view.
My tone might be laced with a dash of cynicism but I must clarify that is not the case. The environment around us today is bombarding us with a fair amount of its own challenges and very often we are left with little or no ammunition to deal with them. Let’s not forget our children are their own being as well; they have their own interpretations of situations and this is where the theory of pinning down everything on nature and nurture fails. They make their decisions on how to react to these situations in their own unique ways and sometimes sitting back and being their patient audience is all you can do as a parent. You might feel helpless but there is a big lesson to be learned from this helplessness.
My children live in this universe with all its good and bad, they see fights on streets, they accidentally catch news on the television which show stories about wars being fought around the world, they hear their parents talk about politics or about the nine year old boy in Washington who took a gun to school and accidentally shot his classmate.
How am I to shield my children from these realities of the world? Or should I be shielding them at all? After all this is their world! Am I to turn off the television that brings home news about war crimes being committed all around us, should I close my laptop every time my son hovers around me when I am trying to catch news on Syria and all the people dying there everyday? I have often wondered how parents deal with issues like teenage pregnancies, sexual preferences, addictions and other such seemingly controversial issues. I say seemingly because I have to be ready for such possibilities with my own children. The world around us is changing rapidly, we read stories in newspapers and magazines and bury them away deep in our subconscious because these are stories happening to other people and things like this happen to other people not us. Think again! These stories are happening to parents just like you and me, these regular suburban parents are not raising children to be sexually active at 14, they are not preaching prejudiced ideas about other people’s sexual preferences, they are not practicing hate crimes in the name of race and religion in their homes everyday. These are “normal” parents with “normal upbringing methods” so to speak. Then how are we as a society able to raise teenagers who have so much angst and rage in them to enter their schools and kill an entire student body?
We have become a society that shelves issues, they bother us enough that we take the time to get on the computer and tweet about them or share them on a social network but we seem to lack the courage and the time to take action. Is this a personal parenting issue or is this something we as a society need to address as a whole?
This brings me back to my point that nature and nurture can take responsibility for only so much, there are things that are beyond our control. The universe has a plan for all of us. We can protect and raise our children in a bubble for only so long. The bubble does not stretch forever. The good news is that there seems to be a solution for this lack of control that we face; being conscious, keep trying, and knowing that keeping it REAL and POSITIVE for us and for our children always works.
I have often heard a passing remark “there should be a job interview on who can be a parent and who cannot” and I have to confess it has made me laugh, but then again I was not a parent when I heard it. Now that I am, I have to retort to that by saying, who am I to judge?
Renu Venkataraman: I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. I lived in Dallas, Texas for almost 15 years and worked as teacher for special needs kids for 10 of those years. I moved to Chengdu in September 2011 with my husband, two kids and our miniature dachshund Zen. I’m looking at motherhood under a very different light here in Chengdu. It has brought a sense of positivity and purpose to my life in many ways I can’t wait to experience and share with all you other Multicultural Moms.