Author Archive | Vinita Zutshi

Teaching Your Child Equality

In theory, you believe in the equality of all people. And you’d like your child to believe it too.

Deep down, you know people aren’t equal, and it is not possible to treat everyone the same way, but you’d still like to treat whoever you meet, wherever you meet them, with a minimum level of decency, courtesy – call it what you will. And you want your child to do this too.

I believe the best way to ‘teach’ your child anything is to let her experience the thing you want her to learn.  

You’re showing her how to join Lego blocks to build a house. She interrupts you to say something, but you tell her, “I know how to do this, so you let me tell you how to build the house. Listen to me.” She hears you out, but continues to disagree. She is an architect in her own right and wants to build her kind of house, not your kind of house. She’s listened to you right to the end. Now, she wants to tell you how to build her kind of house. Time to practice equality. Stop flapping your gums and listen with all your might. At the end, you might still disagree with her house design. No matter. Let her build her kind of house, and you build your kind of house. That’s equality!

You’re teaching him to write the letter ‘K’. You demonstrate by first drawing the vertical line from top to bottom, then the top diagonal, then the bottom diagonal. Your son takes the pencil and draws first the vertical line from bottom to top, then the bottom diagonal, and finally, the top diagonal. At least look at the letter he’s written before you snatch the pencil from him and correct the way he’s writing! If he’s written a passable ‘K’, let him write it his own way. That’s equality.

This doesn’t mean you let your child run wild and do everything just the way he or she wants. (Children are great imitators, and will tend at first to do everything the way you do it. Later, they want to try doing everything the opposite way to how you do it! Both are just phases, and you can ride them out by staying cool, and being true to what you think.)

But let him first try it his way. If it doesn’t work, your child will drop the idea. If it works, how bad can it be? And you can always introduce a new way of doing something, or looking at something, or thinking about something. But he’ll be open to listening to your way only if you’ve been open to ‘listen’ to his way.

Even if he listens, it doesn’t mean he’ll do as you say. He might still choose to do it some other way. That’s fine! You continue to do it your way. That’s equality.

When my daughter was a toddler, lunch was usually rice with dal (lentil gravy), raw sliced cucumber and tomato, and a couple of cooked vegetables – say potatoes with cauliflower, and cabbage with peas. She would eat everything on her plate item by item. If she wanted the cucumber first, she’d eat all the cucumber, then pick all the peas out and eat them, then move on to the dal, spooning it into her mouth, and so on. As a result, she usually ate just plain boiled rice. Which appalled everyone but me.

“Mix some dal with the rice,” people would say. “At least add some vegetables to the rice. Even poor people add some flavor, some pickle or vegetable or dal – nobody eats just plain boiled rice. And how can you break up the cabbage-peas into cabbage and peas?”

She’d look enquiringly at me, and I’d say, “You eat the way you want.”

Today, for many years now, she mixes everything on her plate into one big pile.

“How can you taste anything in that mess? Mix rice with dal, then try rice with potato curry, then try some chicken without anything else. Eat things separately so you can get the flavor,” people tell her.

She doesn’t look at me for direction any longer (she knows everything, you see! 🙂 ), but if she did, my response would be the same as it was earlier.

You are a concerned parent, so you feel free to voice your concern (yes, your child calls it “nagging”, but only because he doesn’t know the depth of your love for him! 🙂 ). You may be blessed with a ‘concerned’ child! He may be concerned that he’s going to be late for wherever you are going to, and he may voice his concern over and over again till you get there. This may happen every time you go out – whether to drop him to school, for an activity, a party, whatever. If you’re practicing equality, he should have the right to voice his concern the same way you have the right to voice yours. (This time, you’ll be the one calling it “nagging”! 🙂 )

Especially in Asian cultures, parents are given a semi-god-like status, at least traditionally. Good manners dictate that you do not argue with your parents, you can’t imagine yelling at them (what to speak of actually doing so!), and in all matters, you seek to please them. You could try being this kind of parent, I guess, but you’d have to find another world in which to raise your child; because nowhere around him does he see such a parent-child relationship at work.

Maybe in the Ramayana or Mahabharata (Indian mythological epics), but he sees them as stories. And such stories are counteracted by innumerable other stories. Besides, you’re nothing like the parents in the Indian mythological tales, so it’s foolish to expect your children to be like the kids in those tales!

So if you shout at your kids and tell them what they’ve done wrong, and still want to ‘teach’ them about equality, be prepared to let them shout at you, and point out in excruciating detail what you’ve done wrong.

Of course, there’s a flip side. If you’re willing to listen, so will they be. If you give them some leeway, some space and love and acceptance to vent, they will reciprocate more than you can imagine. If you do things for them because doing those things gives you joy, they will do things for you – and find pleasure doing them!

It’s equality, after all; it cuts both ways! 🙂

P.S. As I scramble to post this, my daughter’s saying, “Why don’t you organize yourself better so you’re ready with things and not rushing till the last minute?” I think she’s echoing something I told her a couple of hours ago! 🙂

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Equality is Bunkum

You know that equality is a ‘good’ thing. All ‘good’ people believe in and practice equality. You want to bring up your child to be a ‘good’ human being, so you’re determined to teach him about equality in his infancy. Once he’s acquired some vocabulary, you go to work on him in earnest. “People are equal, my son,” you say. And you carry on without pausing for breath, giving him the ways in which people are equal: everyone has two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two arms, two legs… (Really? Not everyone has all those features, but he’s too little to have come across many exceptions as yet, so you can get away with saying this to him.)

“… so people are equal. Understand?” you beam at him as you finally wind down. He’s puzzled, but nods dutifully. You seem to expect him to nod, and whenever he’s nodded in response to your question of “Understand?”, he’s found approval from you, so he repeats the response. How much he’s actually understood is another story altogether.

In fact, I wonder if you realise how little you understand of what you are explaining to him.

A few years down the line, he’s better equipped to deal with abstract concepts like ‘equality’. He’s also begun to question things. So when you trot out your ‘equality spiel’ to ‘teach’ him about equality, he’s ready for you.

“No, people are not equal,” he says categorically. “X is fair, Y is dark, A is fat, B is thin, I am a child and Granny is old and wrinkly, P is tall and Q is short, L smiles a lot and M is always shouting… People are NOT equal.”

“No, no,” you insist, trying to bulldoze your way because you are bigger. Yes, that’s exactly what it amounts to! You’re pulling rank, because you’re the parent, and you think that means you’re in the ‘right’, that you ‘know’ more than your child does, and you’re always trying to ‘educate’, ‘teach’, and ‘show’ him things so that he can ‘learn’ from you.

Get over yourself for a minute.

He’s right! People are different, and they are NOT equal. Why don’t you accept this simple truth from him? You can push your own point of view down his throat after you acknowledge his comment. But you barely pay attention to what he says. Why not?

“No, no. People are all equal – they are the same. God has made us; or, we all belong to the same species.” (depending on which view of the origin of life you endorse 🙂 )

And he’s squinting up at you wondering, “What is wrong with this person? Why can’t he/she get that people are different? Can’t they see? Don’t they have any sense?”

Eventually you say, “Equality means we treat everyone the same way. No matter what your sex, age, where you’re from, whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, you are a human being so you deserve to be treated as one.”

Yeah, right!

You are a shining example of this, of course. You treat your supervisor the same way you treat your subordinate. You treat your housekeeper or assistant the same way you treat your neighbour. You treat a beggar on the street the same way you treat your friend. And to take it further, you do, obviously, treat your child the same way you treat your parents. Right?

It’s time to get off your moral high horse. You can ‘teach’ your child till you’re blue in the face, but she’s only going to learn what she sees you DO.

When you treat someone below you on the social ladder with contempt, she’s watching. When you put on airs and graces to pretend you are in a social or economic level above your own, she’s taking silent notes. When you yell at a roadside beggar to drive her away (what a phrase!), she’s learning.

You are grace and refinement itself when entertaining your supervisor, but curt and nitpicking with your domestic staff. Closer home, when your mother asks how things are between you and your partner, she’s showing how much she cares. When your mother-in-law asks you the same thing, she simply hasn’t learned to keep her nose out of your life, the interfering busybody! 🙂

Of course you’re the right person to teach your child about equality! And we all collectively wonder why the world is going to hell in a handcart…

Why are we so politically correct about everything?

Look around you. People are not equal. You know this. Put yourself and your child out of misery by acknowledging it. Say, “it is very sad to see orphaned children begging on the streets, and it is terrible to be disgusted by the dirt on their bodies and the snot on their faces, but it is also natural to feel that way.”

Acknowledge reality. Know in every way it is possible for you to know that people are not equal. Let your child know it also.

Only after you face this reality will your child listen when you tell him, “People are different from each other. In fact, the same person is different at different times. Like when I’m happy about something, I’m more fun to be around, and when I’m worried or tired then I snap at almost everything and everyone. Still, despite the differences between people, we are all human beings. And it is a good idea to try and behave well with each other. It is not the poor person’s fault that he is poor. Just because we have more money/things/education than he, doesn’t give us the right to treat him as if he were an animal. After all, lots of people are richer than we are, and we would hate it if they shouted at us or pushed us around or treated us badly in other ways just because they had more things than we do.”

You might say, “No matter how tired I am or how stressed, there are certain ways I will not behave: I won’t hit you or shake you or throw things at you. I love you, and would never do these things to you, but the point is that I would never do these things to anyone else either! That is treating people equally.”

You might say all this, and your child will listen to you and understand what you say. But if you want to ‘teach’ equality, you’ll have to practice it. And, like everything else, equality begins at home! 🙂  More tomorrow…

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Where Does the Day Go?

In the 10 days that I haven’t posted, I’ve been busy with the stuff that life hands out to each of us from time to time. As I dealt with one thing after another, at the back of my mind, I was thinking about Time – yes, Time with a capital ‘T’.

24 hours; a full day. And it’s gone before you know it. As you haul your exhausted, tense, sore, pained body and mind to bed and think about your day, you find yourself compiling a long list of all the things you meant to accomplish today but didn’t.

To this list, you add the unexpected additions to your workload that cropped up during the day. Such as the house guest you can’t refuse, an aching tooth that needs to be attended to, the baby sitter cancelling at the last moment so you have to either arrange another one or not attend that important official dinner (with your partner) tomorrow evening…

Your list is burgeoning. In fact, it is bursting at the seams. When you wake up in the morning, you hit the ground running, taking phone calls, checking email, fitting in a workout, getting the kids organized, doing household chores, getting yourself out the door (or ready to work indoors), working … All the words you can think of end in ‘ING’. Yup! You’re DO-ing things all the time.

As you drive (driving), you’re thinking of the presentation you need to make. As you eat lunch (eating), you’re reminding yourself to pick up the test reports from the hospital on your way back home. As your child greets a tired you and you’re responding and listening to her, you’re thinking of how you can get as many things crossed off your ‘To Do’ List before the day is done.

No matter what you do, you bemoan not having enough time to do all the things you’d like to do, to meet all the people you’d like to meet, for as long as you’d like to meet them (Ah! But will they have the time? 🙂 ), go to all the places you’d like to visit…

Your life, interrupted – by lack of time.

Alright. Suppose you do have enough time to do what you’d like to do. What might your day look like?

Stop right here and write what your ideal day would look like. Include everything you can think of, and be sure to build in transition times. For instance, once you’re dressed, you don’t really dash out the door. You take a couple of minutes to collect everything you need to take with yourself, maybe check to see you have switched off the gas, shut the windows – all of this takes time.

My day would ideally look like this:

Sleep: 6 hours. Okay, maybe 7! 🙂

Exercise: 1 hour (I’m a far cry from here right now!)

Quiet Time: 1 hour (another far cry, and it will probably be small chunks that add up to an hour)

Personal time (bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, drinking water): 1 hour (minimum!)

Chores (Cooking, Housekeeping, Laundry, Accounts, Grocery shopping, Home maintenance): 2 hours

Transition time (from one activity to another): 30 minutes

Keeping track of what’s going on: 30 minutes (newspaper, social networking – I don’t watch any TV)

Relaxation (Puzzle time 🙂 ): 15 minutes.

Driving: 2 hours (this is something of a minimum for me, on most days)

Hey, wait a minute! I haven’t ‘done’ a thing – no ‘work’, no social stuff, nothing professional or community-related or fulfilling, no phone calls, and more than 14 hours of my day are gone!

I suspect your ideal day would also look something like mine, give or take an hour or two under one heading or another.

On top of this, I have a kid (as do you! 🙂 ), I have family members who expect (rightly) that I am available to them at least some of the time, that we spend time together to share what’s going on in our lives, I have clients to whom I have committed my time and skills, I want to write for myself (the blog, creative fiction, story-telling)…

There’s just one four-letter word that fits this scenario: O-U-C-H!

You turn anxious eyes towards your child, looking at how she spends time, ensuring she doesn’t waste her time. You try to teach her to use her time wisely, productively from the very beginning.

“Hurry up!”

“You have 5 minutes to finish this project before we go for basketball practice.”

“Don’t waste time!”

“Read fast!” “Write fast!” “Eat fast!” “Pack your bag quickly!”

“Why do you take so long to get dressed?”

“Stop admiring yourself in the mirror – we’re getting late!”

And what is she doing? She’s got her eyes turned to you! She’s looking at how you spend your day. She sees you irritable from lack of sleep, but pushing yourself to stay awake so you can finish working on that document. She sees you listen to her tell you about her day as you’re trying to watch the news, cook dinner, and get a load in the wash. She sees you ‘help’ her with her homework while you change her little sister’s diaper, sew a missing button, tidy up the living room, and fix an appointment with the plumber for that leaking faucet.

And the child that woke up happy and bright, eager to face the day, slowly learns to get up exhausted, jump unwillingly out of bed, and zombie her way through the day. From you. The same way that my child learns from me.

When is it going to change? Remember when you first started working? You were in your 20s (maybe even in your teens), and you thought you ruled the world. If you could only push yourself hard enough, you’d be on top of the tree. And once you got there, you’d rest and relax and ‘enjoy’ your life.

Well, it’s been a good few years since then, and if you’re honest with yourself, you ‘enjoyed’ yourself more then, than you do now.

As you’ve just seen, even after you’ve achieved everything you want to achieve, you’ll still be spending more than half your day doing the same stuff you do now (and that is without ‘work’!).

That is half of your life. Might as well enjoy it, don’t you think?

I didn’t think so, till I read a Sufi story, the upshot of which was: People are strange; they keep rushing toward the future, at the end of which is death. They say they want to live, to enjoy life, but they hurry on towards death.

You’ll never have it all done because life is a present continuous entity – always ‘ING’. Free yourself and your child from the tyranny of time. It is a worthwhile gift to give your child.

And if ever you find yourself with nothing left on your ‘To Do’ List, know this: You are dead.

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Strategies to Calm Your Child

How many times in a day do you feel the need to calm to your child?

He doesn’t have to cry or kick his heels on the floor in a tantrum. Maybe he’s out-of-control angry, and you want to calm him. Maybe she’s so excited about something that she’s becoming hysterical, or refusing to go to sleep. It could be fear holding your child in its grip. Or laughter – sometimes, you can laugh so hard you’re struggling to breathe!

Whatever the emotion, beyond a point, it needs to be managed.  

Here are some ideas:

1. Declare “Quiet Time” – I have used this successfully with lots of children. It works under 2 conditions: firstly, your parenting style must involve your doing something with your child. It could be giving her a bath, reading him a story, gardening, shooting hoops – whatever.

You’re solving a jigsaw puzzle with your son. When you finish you might say, “Now we’ll have some “Quiet Time”. He’ll ask, “What’s that?” You answer: “We both sit quietly, doing nothing. We don’t speak, don’t do any work, don’t watch TV or read a book or play or put things away or listen to music. We just sit quietly, doing nothing. We don’t even hug or hold hands.”

Sit yourselves down in front of a clock with a second hand, if need be, and tell your child: it’s “Quiet Time” (QT) for 1 minute. If he can’t tell the time, tell him that 1 minute means the second hand will move once around the clock from 12 to 12, and then QT is finished. By the way, you might want to start with 2 minutes or more. Also, it’s not your child who will get fidgety; it’s you who won’t be able to handle ‘doing nothing’!

He might think it’s weird, but he won’t question it, because he’s used to doing things with you – this will be just another thing you do together. You will definitely think it’s weird, but try and stick with it, because it works. Gradually, increase the time to 2 minutes, 3 minutes and so on, till you are up to 5 or 10 minutes.

Make sure you have at least 1 QT session a day, if not more. Initially, declare QT at arbitrary times of the day – when you are both peacefully engaged in whatever you’re doing, not when you are trying to calm him.

When he (and you! 🙂 ) get used to QT, you can begin to introduce it when he needs calming. It’s an activity he knows well by now, so it’ll work. But keep doing QT even at no-need-for-calming times, or he’ll get wise to your strategy, and won’t ‘play’ QT any longer! 🙂

QT works if you do things with your kids, and if you introduce them and get them used to the idea during regular times.

I’ve seen a 7-year old struggle with learning to tie her shoelaces, and declare QT to her dad when she became too frustrated! 🙂

 2. Offer a glass of water – Most of us could do with more water in our bodies. Children are no different. When hysteria is ruling the roost, offer your child a full glass of water, and ask that she drink it. If you start this when she is young, it will work for her right through life.

Drinking a full glass of water requires time, which gives your child a break from the extreme emotion. It hydrates the body, thereby reducing stress and lowering her heart rate.  Invariably, she will be calmer.

I am such a great believer in this, that if a child comes to me saying, “I’m bored. What should I do?” one of my top 3 responses is “drink a glass of water”. (The other 2 are “I don’t know” and “Take all your clothes off and stand outside the house”! 🙂  No, really! My logic for giving the last suggestion is “you’ll never be bored for the rest of your life!” 🙂 )

3. Go outside for a walk – with your clothes on! 😉 We spend too much time boxed up indoors. Just being outdoors, seeing space around us is healing. Even if you live in a concrete jungle, even if you don’t have very good air quality, even if it’s noisy – go outside. Take your child out of the house, and walk together.

Walk aimlessly. If you use the walk to pick up groceries, visit a friend, or get some work done, it will be much less effective as a calming strategy. As you use going-outside-the-house-and-walking, your child will begin to relate the aimless walk with calming down; he will begin to ‘get’ it.

Keep conversation to a minimum. Conversation fans emotion. Just be silent and walk. If he wants to say or ask anything, respond normally. For instance, when you’ve been walking for a few minutes, he might say, “Are you angry with me?” Speak long enough to reassure him that you’re not; you’re just in a quiet mood and want to be with him. Say no more.

As you both walk and he calms down, you might strike up a conversation, and that is fine. In fact, it’s great! But let it be his decision to speak or not.

 4. Hold your child – Young children accept being held by their parents. As they grow, first boys and then girls, begin to shrug off your cuddles, caresses and hugs. The accepted physical expressions become an arm around a shoulder, a pat on the back, a head leant on a shoulder, a squeeze of the arm or hand, a moment’s hand-holding, a touch, and eventually, maybe just silence. As your child grows from one stage to another, and depending upon the specific emotion she is going through, different things will work. But they all centre around holding your child.

 Croon something soothing, if you wish; or just hold her quietly. Keep holding her long past what you believe is necessary. Even if you believe she is in an uncomfortable position, don’t pull away. Ask her if she’d like to be more comfortable. If she does, she’ll move herself, but stay in your arms. You keep holding her, till she pulls away.

Do let me know your experience with these strategies, if and when you try any of them!

P.S. There’s another benefit to the first 3 – they work for you as well! 🙂

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Deconstructing Good Grades

Let’s deconstruct Good Grades. There are two words here: Good, and Grade.

What is a Grade? It is an indication of comparative performance. A grade indicates that on a given day, amongst a specific bunch of people, somebody thought that your child deserved a particular grade.

Change any of the italicized words above, and your child’s grade will be different.

If the individuals in the group change, your child’s grade will change. If there is a different evaluator, your child’s grade will change. And the same child will perform differently on different days at different times.

Your brilliant child may have a headache, and get third rank in the class, as opposed to being at the top. The opposite may also happen!

Some years ago, I’d been trying to force my daughter to learn how to play chess. With her usual grace (our children are almost always graceful, till they decide they’ve had enough, and if they don’t put their foot down, we’ll end up trampling all over them! And I agree with them. 🙂 ), she agreed to take chess classes.

After a month or so, her chess coach suggested she participate in chess competitions and tournaments so she’d play against others and hone her skills. She agreed. At this point, she was making a lot of unforced errors, so both the coach and I expected that a competition would merely expose her to playing matches with real people, rather than solving chess puzzles from books, which is what she’d been doing till then. (No, I didn’t play chess with her – I was busy doing my own thing! 🙂 )

There were brilliant players participating in her age group; they’d already been winning inter-city tournaments for a few years, and were representing their schools in national competitions.

My daughter registers, and needs to play against – I think it was 5 people. One didn’t show up, so she got a walkover. And she drew 1 and defeated the other 3!

She was delighted, and I was in shock (happy too, but that was a very faraway second reaction). As for the coach, he took me aside and said, “What have you been giving her for the past few days?” (!)

Like I said, any child, on a given day, amongst a particular bunch of kids, can achieve (or fail to achieve) anything.

But you choose to ignore this. You like to think you can control results by managing actions. You reason this way: if you can ‘make’ your child study hard enough, she will be well prepared. She will get all the answers right. She will score the maximum grade possible.

And when she doesn’t get the grade you’d like her to get, you lose it.   

Let’s move on to the second word: Good. What is a ‘good’ grade? The grade you’d like your child to get! 🙂

Suppose he does get a ‘good’ grade! 🙂  What then?

Here is the sad truth: you are happy, but only for a bit. Dissatisfaction rears its ugly head soon enough, sometimes as early as a minute after learning about your child’s wonderful grade.

My daughter’s classmate topped the math exam, with 6 marks less than the maximum marks. This is a very competitive child, under constant pressure to top the class, which doesn’t usually happen, so I was very pleased to learn that she’d topped the exam. The next person was as far as another 6 marks below the topper.

When my daughter told me this child had topped, I exclaimed, “How lovely!”

My daughter replied, “Yes, and guess what? She got scolded for getting 6 marks less than the maximum! I tell you, her parents are dictators!”

I didn’t know whether to be shocked or to laugh.

Here’s your child achieving something you’ve been pushing her to do, and when she does it, you chew her out? How long do you think she’s going to try and give it her best before she just gets tired of a goalpost that is constantly shifting farther away?

I’ve had 5-year olds tell me in all seriousness, “You know, if I make a mistake in a test, Mummy hits me with her slipper.”

Parents of primary school kids boast of sending their children for after-school coaching for Math, Science, and languages.  

No wonder your child is burnt out by the time he reaches middle school. When is he going to live his life? When is he going to do it his way?

He’s toed the line (your line!) so long, he’s tired. In addition, adolescence is a hard-to-deny siren that’s pulling him away from your ‘guidance’, and he’s sick of ‘being serious’ about his studies and his sports and his co-curricular activities.

Isn’t there anything you can do? (This is the all-powerful parent ego at work.)

Sure you can! You can be quiet.

Your best strategy is silence. Not a sullen, angry, disappointed, I’ve-done-so-much-for-you-and-I’m-still-killing-myself-to-give-you-a-good-future-but-you-don’t-care-you-can’t-even-do-a-simple-thing-like-study-well-and-get-good-grades silence, but a calm, aloof, it’s-your-choice-my-dear silence.

Bite your tongue. It really will be okay.

Back off. Give him some breathing room. If he doesn’t study, let him be. No action on your part will make him change his ways. Some day he will look around. He will find his peers working towards a career. That itself will spur him on to find his focus.

Instead of getting after him, be available to him so he feels comfortable talking to you about any doubts, confusion or indecision he faces.

Being grade oriented is a foolproof way to hand over your emotions to factors completely outside your control. (You are an intelligent adult, and can see this is not smart.) It is also one of the surefire ways to negatively affect your relationship with your child.

If you have to speak, tell him to do his best, and accept it as his best effort – at that time. Don’t draw conclusions about his career, life, success and happiness because of a grade he got – or didn’t get.  

Try acceptance. You might just be surprised at the result you’ll get.

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Your Sensitive G-spot

Here’s a quiz for you. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to your G-spot immediately after the quiz! :-))

Of the options given below, pick the one that is most true for you:

Q1. Your work relates to your area of study or training.

a) True

b) False

Q2. Evaluate your level of satisfaction with the work you are doing at present:

a) I am delighted to be doing the work I do.

b) I’m reasonably happy doing what I do.

c) I’m sort of okay doing what I do. Could be better, but could be worse too.

d) I’m not too happy doing what I do.

e) I’m miserable! Help!

Alright, it’s G-spot time!

Whether you are a Dad or a Mom, you have a G-spot. And since it is a G-spot, it is sensitive. In fact, it is so sensitive, that it can ruin not just your mood, but your peace of mind and your relationships as well!

G is for Grades, the holy grail of academic achievement.

If your child makes a good grade, there’s a grin on your face and in your mind that you can’t wipe off (and you don’t want to either! 🙂 ). But more often than not, your child doesn’t make as good a grade as you’d like, and that is a niggling dissatisfaction that you can’t quite get over.

You pore over his assignments and his exam papers.

“How could you make such a silly mistake?”

“You don’t know how to spell ‘impossible’? But you spelt it okay in 3 other places! How can you misspell it in a dictation/spelling bee?”

“Really, how can you get confused between addition and multiplication at age 10? 2 x 3 is 6, not 5. Maybe it was a genuine error (! Are there any other kinds of errors? During exams?!), but you should have left enough time for revision before you gave the paper in, and you should have caught and fixed the mistake while looking over your answers! How many times do I have to tell you…?” You’re almost howling with disappointment by now.

Er – let’s get back to the quiz.

What kind of student were you? Maybe you were a star, outperforming everyone. Super! And how long did that continue? Right through high school? Undergraduate school? Graduate school? Even beyond? WOW! That is some achievement, and I congratulate you. 🙂

And you were a star because it all came naturally to you? Or did you have to put in some effort? And if you did, did you want to put in the effort? Or was someone ‘motivating’ (or pushing or nagging) you to do better? And how did you feel about it all? If you could go back today, would you still do what you did then? Or would you choose differently?

For most of us, we might have got pretty good grades through school, or even had flashes of brilliance, but we weren’t on top of the Grade game through our lives.

And whether you set new records with your Grade Point or not, what does that have to do with the work you’re doing now?

How fulfilled are you – doing the work you are doing now? Today, more than ever, people are choosing to set aside years of training in one area, and work in a completely different field. They have invested time, energy and money – their life – in a profession, and they choose to walk away from it. It might be understandable if the choice was made under pressure: a lawyer’s son ‘chooses’ to take the bar exam to continue his mother’s practice; a businessman’s daughter goes to business school …  

But even if the choice was freely made, people are choosing to walk away from earlier choices and make new choices all the time – at any time of their lives. 

I know people who chose to study at the best Ivy League engineering colleges, where they successfully competed for merit scholarships. They graduated with honors, winning medals and trophies, got wonderful jobs, worked at them, and after years, threw it all up because they wanted to study music or spirituality! And they’re back at undergraduate school, studying.

There are doctors who have trained for over a decade, worked for a while, and then decided they didn’t like it enough to spend more time at the job. Some became photographers, others joined Government (in non-medical) administration, while yet others set up factories to manufacture garments!

Why do you obsess over your child’s grades?

Stop reading for a bit, and spend some time with the question: WHY do you obsess over your child’s grades?

You know from personal experience, from the media, that how well you do at school is no guarantee that you will be happy in your chosen profession.

Or have I made a mistake? Maybe you’re not looking at your child’s happiness.

Maybe you just want to ensure that she is a ‘success’. ‘Success’ means she must make her way rapidly up one of the top 5 companies in the world in her chosen area of work. She must win accolades, she must get a fat salary, and perks you can boast about to everyone you know. And naturally, if she is ‘successful’, she will be happy. (! There is no limit to our capacity for self-delusion!)

We must remember something we are always in danger of forgetting: happiness and success are two different things.

Happiness is what you experience – you know it is real for you.

Success is tricky. You may be held up by the world as a shining example of success, but you may not believe you are a success (if you feel you could do much more, for instance). On the other hand, the world may not think much of you, but you may think you are a success (someone who wants to mow lawns because he loves to do that, and goes ahead and makes a good living from it as well!). 🙂

But you keep getting confused between happiness and success. You are so ‘achievement’ oriented, and you want the best for your kids. Heck, you want your kids to BE the best! So you hound them to ‘Get Good Grades’.

Whether or not they are capable of good grades. Whether or not they wish to get good grades. (Unfortunately for you, their wishes have everything to do with this – you can’t keep pushing them forever. It will only work if they want to get good grades for themselves.) Whether or not they are happy.

And so you make GRADES the fulcrum of your relationship with your child – the fulcrum against which you bang your head till it’s bleeding, and till your relationship with your child is in tatters, but you can’t get yourself to stop.

I’d say that’s a sensitive G-spot. Wouldn’t you?

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When to Talk to Your Child about Puberty, Sex and Stuff Like That

You want the best possible life for your child. At every age and stage of her life, you want to see her happy, healthy, successful, fulfilled, enjoying great relationships, living a sane and balanced life. This is your dream for her.

From day one of your being a parent, you commit yourself to doing everything in your power to make this dream come true. You care for her, groom her, show her, tell her, teach her, prepare her, you supervise her every activity. You also try to shield her from both the worthless and the harmful in life – be it thoughts, activities, information, or people.

You are dedicated to help her create and live the best possible life she can.

It is your best effort, but it is a fairly lopsided effort, and doomed to failure almost from the start. There’s a reason I’m saying this: if you’re preparing her to have a happy, healthy, successful… life, then you need to introduce her to all of life, not to selected bits and pieces of life. But you don’t!

I know this, and so do you, because if you’d been talking to her about all of life, she’d know about puberty and sex and stuff like that from the time she was a toddler. Instead, all she learns from you is that there is stuff ‘that she should not ask / talk about’, or ‘that she is too young to understand’: basically, she gets the clear impression that you are uncomfortable and/or unwilling to face and deal with some questions / issues.

Tell me something: Say your 2-year old asks you why leaves are green, and why everyone says you should plant trees. He’s way too young to understand photosynthesis and soil erosion and ‘stuff like that’, but you still try your best to get as close to the real explanation, don’t you, when you try and answer his questions?

Then why do you clam up about sex?

Of course you need to deliver the answers in a form he can understand! That goes without saying, no matter what the message, or what the age of your child.

Why, then, do you perpetuate the “the-stork-brought-you-home-type” of stories? (Then he watches movies about teenage sex, and wonders: ‘What is going on? My parents can’t be such dorks they don’t know this stuff, so it looks like they don’t want to talk to me about it.’ So it becomes forbidden. Before he ever learns sex is as normal as sleeping or eating, he learns it is ‘bad’, ‘taboo’, something to be uncomfortable about.) And you think you’re so smart fobbing him off with some made up stories! While he’s learning not to trust you… Sad, sad situation – of your own making.

If there is a Mom living in the house, she presumably has periods. Why isn’t it talked about? It’s not a big deal – it can be as normal as why people have fevers, or why Granddad has arthritis, or the importance of going to the dentist, or how fire cooks food, or why it is important to keep the house clean, or why the sun rises and sets…

Children are not too young to deal with it. Children are the most accepting, matter-of-fact people you can find. It is WE parents who are too scared, under-confident, and conflicted in our OWN attitudes to these issues; it is we who are unable to deal with them. And we end up passing on these conflicted attitudes to our children.

That is the only reason why we make such a mess of ‘THE TALK’.

And it is a mess – the timing of it, the way we broach the topic, the way we either avoid making eye contact or stare the child down, the awkward “one long lecture should fix it once and for all and then I don’t need to worry about it” thinking behind it, the searching for ‘technical’ words which they won’t hear at all in the real world, the avoidance of slang which is all they hear around them, the ‘good’ attitude to it (she must behave like sex doesn’t exist for her at a personal level!), the ‘bad’ attitude to it (she can’t think: I am curious, I want to know more, I want to ask someone who won’t think less of me or condemn me for asking, I want to ask someone who will tell me things as they really are, not someone who will try to manipulate my thinking with their answers, I feel things I don’t understand – how do I make sense of them?, is it wrong of me to feel this way?, is it wrong of me to think this way?,…)    

If you, as a Mom, are not yet comfortable with your body and your menstrual cycle, if you haven’t accepted it, if you can’t talk to your partner about it, how do you expect to speak with your child about it? Whether your child is a boy or a girl is entirely beside the point.

If you as a Dad are unable to deal with how your body acts and reacts in various situations, if you don’t acknowledge that you have fought for control over your body (and might still be doing so! 🙂 ), how do you think you will be able to explain anything to your child? Whether your child is a boy or a girl is entirely beside the point.

One of my parenting mantras is never to lie to a child – any child. Never.

I will try my best to tell them the truth in whatever form they can get it. If they absolutely can’t get it, I might say, “I’m not sure how to explain so you can understand, but I’m trying to come up with a way to do so. I need some time.” And then I give them an example. Maybe something like: “Sometimes, you feel something, but you don’t know how to express what you feel. Or you may not even know yourself what you feel, just that you feel something. So you need to spend some time to understand what it is you’re feeling. I need time in the same way…”

You see, I know the answer to what they’re asking! So it is my responsibility as the parent (or the adult) to find a way to explain it to the child. If I can’t explain, it is only because I am unwilling to do so. There is no other reason. After all, I’m happy to talk to the child forever about everything else under the sun! Just not this ‘sex stuff’…!

I have spoken to at least a dozen children of various ages over the years, telling them about what adults euphemistically call “growing up”, and I’ve never had any problems telling them, and they’ve never had any problems accepting what I said.

Obviously, these are all children who are very close to me, with whom I have had a real relationship, though I am not necessarily related to all of them. And these conversations have played out over years, growing in complexity as the issues became more real and immediate to the children, with one or the other of us coming back to it at different points. With each child, it was an interrupted, but ongoing conversation, one both the child and I were comfortable with.

I have seen these children make conscious choices in life, and that has been a wonderful experience – seeing them make a choice from a position of love, affirmation of oneself; empowered with information. They haven’t avoided the mental and emotional pains of growing up, but I believe they have had it much easier than many other children who are left to make sense of the whole ‘sex stuff’ on their own – sucked under by the collective quagmire of social ignorance, labeling, peer pressure, and their parents’ cluelessness. The oldest of these ‘children’ is now married (happily married! 🙂 ), and has not yet shown signs of being negatively affected by getting the ‘sex talk’ from the time he first broached the topic – when he was less than 4 years old!

It’s do-able. Give it a shot.

One of the reasons we face so many problems with growing children is that they are growing at a natural and normal pace, but we’re holding them back.

You won’t talk to them about their bodies, about the body in general, about puberty, about the opposite sex, about how babies are made; but you will talk them into the year 2015 about taking on more responsibility, doing chores, performing well at school, taking care of their parents / grandparents, taking care of the environment – things YOU consider grown up.

And you’re trying to tell me your kids are not growing lopsided! I don’t believe you.

If they’re growing up, they’re growing up in every way – you can’t tailor their growing up to your convenience, though you’d like to do so! 🙂

Over and over again, you have seen it: the more you suppress or ignore something, the greater the force with which it will hit you in the face when you least expect it. (I’m sure there’s one of Newton’s Laws here – action and reaction?) It’s like a Jack-in-the-box. The more you try to influence your child to have one kind of attitude, the more extreme will be his reaction in exploring the opposite attitude. That too, at a time you’d rather he be guided by you! (Be honest: wouldn’t you rather that he be guided by you always and forever? 🙂 )

Okay, you’re willing to consider the idea that the earlier you start talking to your child about ‘stuff like that’, the better off you both will be.  

So: when should you talk to your child about puberty, sex and stuff like that? Every time he asks you.

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Fix Your Child’s Most Irritating Habit

If someone asked you to identify your child’s most irritating habit, it would take you some time to do so. Not because you have to think really hard to identify it, but because there are so many, that you’d need first to list them, and then put them in order to identify the most irritating habit! 🙂

Maybe he’s forgetful, he’s rude, he leaves the tops off things (tubes, tins etc.), he doesn’t close doors, he ‘lies’ (this is a tough one: it is difficult to define what is the truth and what is a lie), he does things behind your back, he’s careless, he’s untidy, he’s fixated on a particular way of doing something…

Whatever the case, there are only two reasons you are irritated by something your child does or does not do: either you cannot, for the life of you, understand why she does what she does, or you have the same habit!

Let’s say she eats very slowly. Actually, once the food is in her mouth, it has found a temporary home. You spend m-i-n-u-t-e-s reminding and coaxing her to chew and then to swallow, but she resists you with all her might. You’ve tried to understand the peculiar satisfaction she derives from treating her mouth as a holding area for food, but after months (or maybe years!) of effort, you still don’t get it.

At times, you’re tempted to go back to mashed food or smoothies, which you can just pour down her throat – and you’ll both be done with mealtime!

You, on the other hand, have always been brisk and business-like, putting the food into your mouth, chewing to your satisfaction, swallowing, and then following it up with the next mouthful. Your partner, both sets of grandparents, perhaps your other children – everybody eats normally. Just this one drives you insane, trying to create a world record for the morsel of food held longest in the mouth. (And she does this with every morsel!)

What can you do?

How about stepping back? It’s her mouth, her food, her stomach, her hunger – why not give her a chance to do it her way?

I can almost hear you think: “But then she’ll never get any food into her! She’ll starve, she won’t get enough nutrition, she’ll get sick, she won’t grow…”.

Do you really think she’ll starve if she doesn’t eat ‘enough’ (this is your definition of how much is enough for her, not hers!) for a few meals or days? Not one of our children is likely to come even 50% close to starvation (that’s something to be profoundly grateful for 🙂 ), so this fear is completely unjustified.

You’ve tried everything else you could think of; why not try stepping back from the situation? Trust her to know: when she’s hungry, how much to eat and how to eat.

As you lay off reminding, encouraging, cajoling, blackmailing and scolding her, she will realize in a few days that she has to rely on herself to get enough food. And she will eat. Maybe she still won’t chew as fast as you’d like, maybe she’ll continue to keep food in her mouth for too long (in your opinion) but that’s just how she eats. Accept it! And once you accept it as part of who she is, her ‘habit’ will stop irritating you.

But what if you have the same habit?

Your son procrastinates. No matter what you say, the response is: “I’ll just do it; in just a minute”. But you don’t see him get up to do it. Not immediately, not in the next few minutes, not in the next hour, maybe. Sometimes, not over the next few weeks! And you fret and fume about him: you son, the eternal procrastinator.

Hola! Do you procrastinate?

Of course you do! 🙂  And of course you procrastinate differently from him!

You won’t be late getting the kids off to school or yourself to work, you won’t routinely delay mealtime, you won’t delay filing your tax returns (or will you? 😉 )…

But when it comes to taking the clothes to the drycleaners, fixing that loose bolt, getting your paperwork ready for tax time… – you do procrastinate. Whenever you are confronted with things you need to do but don’t want to, you postpone the unpleasantness by doing something else instead. So laundry piles up, dishes pile up, errands pile up, personal goals pile up, social obligations pile up. Your life is under pressure from the things and people you’ve put off for ‘later’.

And you’re irritated that your son procrastinates. He’s learnt from you! “If Dad/Mom is doing it, it can’t be such a bad thing, can it?” he thinks, and happily mirrors your behavior.

He’s busy reading the latest Percy Jackson book, or playing his favorite video game, and you’re asking him to put his lunch dishes away.  Firstly, he barely hears you. If he does, he’ll nod and mumble ‘yes’ just to be rid of the distraction you present, and promptly forget he agreed to do anything.

If he has heard and understood, and agrees to put his dishes away, he truly means to do it. Except that continuing the pleasurable activity he’s already engaged in is his first priority, so he’ll do the job just as soon as he’s done with the pleasure. But he keeps prolonging the reading or the playing (wouldn’t you?) and before you know it, it’s evening, and the dirty lunch dishes are still on the table in front of him, probably adding to biodiversity by growing a new species of fungus.

But you don’t care about biodiversity at this moment. You want those dishes in the sink – NOW! Scenes, recriminations, bad feelings on both sides… You know how it goes.

Look at yourself carefully. Whatever habit of your child irritates you the most is something you are guilty of doing.

So fix it at the root. Don’t say anything to him. Fix yourself first. Don’t expect miracles – not with yourself, and definitely not with your child!

But if you keep at it, as you slowly address your problem, he will change too. As he begins to see you dealing with things promptly, he will automatically begin to adopt your new behavior, and you would have successfully fixed your child’s most irritating habit! 🙂

Of course, there’s a whole laundry list of them, so you can just take a deep breath and start fixing the next one – the new Most Irritating Habit! 🙂

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Why Parenting is a Bad Career Option

You are a dedicated career person, relatively happy and busy, progressing in your field. Then you hit a speed-bump called ‘having a baby’.  

Most societies are patriarchal, so the parent who stays home to look after the kids full-time (if at all such a decision is taken by the parents) is usually the mother. However, there are some stay-at-home dads too, who raise the children while their partners go to work.

So you’ve made the decision to stay at home and mind the baby, till she’s a bit older, till she’s slightly more independent. Once she’s better able to take care of herself, you’ll go back to work.

In a few years, another baby comes along, and then you’re busy managing the differing needs of children in two (or more) different age groups. Obviously, the youngest is too young to manage on his own, and even when the elder one (or two or more) are able to take care of themselves, guilt keeps you home: how can you not do for your youngest what you did for the others?

It’s impossible to pick the ‘right time’ to go back to work!

Before you know it, ten or more years have gone past. Now, you are grappling with teenage issues, and more than ever before, you feel you need to be home. “He doesn’t share anything! I need to be around him so I can see what he’s up to, so I know what’s going on in his life. (As if hanging around him would tell you what’s going on with him! 🙂 ) And if he ever wants to talk, at least I’ll be around.”

Towards the last few years that the children are home, you feel increasingly redundant. You stay at home to be available to them, but you find yourself being sidelined as they get busy with their friends, their interests, and their own lives.

On a day-to-day basis, you are treated as nothing better than a maid-of-all work. What hurts is being called a nag. Routinely, you are told: “Will you stop it? Just chill, will you? Stop nagging! Don’t get after my life! I don’t need you to tell me this – I can handle it! Why are you after me all the time? Just leave me alone, will you?”

Slammed doors, locked doors, loud music, the silent treatment, making faces, leaving the house in a huff, sulking for days on end – it’s become a way of life.

And you stayed home to be a full-time parent! You wonder what’s gone wrong.

Nothing’s gone wrong. But two things have happened.

One: Your child is growing up. This means he is learning who he is when he is on his own. He is learning how to think, how to evaluate people and ideas. He is becoming his own person.

In the process, he will veer violently away from what you have taught him. It’s logical, if you think about it. For ten-odd years, he’s been influenced by your way of thinking. This makes him grow in one direction, thinking a particular way. For him to find a sense of who he is, he must (and will!) try out the opposite way of thinking too! So he will seem to reject you and all that you stand for.

If you want to help him become a worthwhile adult, this is a price you have to pay – whether you are prepared to pay it or not.

The second thing that has happened over the years of devoting yourself exclusively to the children is that you have become uni-dimensional. You have become boring – you haven’t learnt new stuff, haven’t grown in your abilities as an individual.

You are frustrated at the time you have lost – time you could have used to give your life any shape you wanted! You are also resentful that your child is not showing enough appreciation for your ‘sacrifice’ in staying home and looking after her. She should at least acknowledge, if not appreciate, that you have put your life on the back-burner for her. Instead, she’s openly ungrateful!

Well, she has every reason to be! It was your decision to stay home and look after her. It was you that decided she ‘needed’ you home for a ‘bit longer’. Why should she take responsibility for your decision?

A part of you is also scared because you’ve concentrated exclusively on being a parent for so long, that you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be yourself – who you are when you are not ‘being’ a parent. You’ve lost confidence in your ability to work at something other than parenting. And the kids don’t need you anymore!

The truth is that you were a fully functional human being long before you were a parent. You had your interests, passions, and dreams. When you decided to be a ‘career’ parent, you brought the rest of your life to an abrupt halt. And now that this ‘career’ is at an end, you don’t know what to do with yourself.

This is why I say: Parenting is a bad career option.

To be a good parent, you must be yourself – all of yourself – not a poor ‘shadow’ of yourself. Keep doing whatever fulfills you as a person. If you do not find challenge and satisfaction in what you do from day to day, you will not be happy. And only a happy person can have good relationships.

You must find work that is yours to do, goals which are yours to achieve, delight which is yours to share. You don’t have to work 18 hours a day outside the home. In fact, you might do work from home – run a business, coach students, write, paint, sculpt…

I know a few women, who love running their homes – to them, THAT is their job. And they are successful at it! They don’t have a salary, but they are busy, happy, and fulfilled, and take great pride in running a home that supports the well-being of the family and of the individuals within that family.

But a majority of stay-at-home moms say, “I’m just a home-maker”. And that ‘just’ is the most unjust thing you could do to yourself.

Don’t think you will neglect your child. Don’t worry about not having enough time for her. Your joy and fulfillment will make you a far better parent than you would otherwise be. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you owe it to your child to be a working parent. Show her that it is possible to find fulfillment both as a parent and as a person – that the two are not contradictory goals. 🙂

 

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The Myth of Quality Time

You are a busy person. You wear many hats, and manage, somehow, to stay on top of it all. One day, a baby gets added to your packed schedule.

You have some months’ notice, so you start clearing your schedule to make place for the baby. And when the baby is born, you have maternity / paternity leave to spend quantity time with the baby. As the end of your leave period approaches, you devote serious thought to how you will spend enough time with your child once you’re back at work.  

The solution involves your spending all your after-work hours with your child while he’s awake. Once he’s in bed, you’ll catch up on chores and other work. The stuff you can’t finish will either get postponed or fall by the wayside.

As your child grows, there’s more going on in his life. But your responsibilities have grown too, and you get busier as well. Also, once the novelty of having a child has worn off (sounds like sacrilege to say it, but it’s true! 🙂 ), you want to get back to something that at least vaguely resembles the life you had before he came along.

Maybe you were at the movies every weekend before you became a parent. Now that you have a child, is it too much to want to watch one movie every 3 months, you wonder? The reasonable answer is: no. This puts further pressure on the time you have with your child.  

As time goes by, you want to stay involved in your child’s life, but you aren’t around him for a large part of his waking day. When you get home, you ask: “What happened today? I made your favorite dessert for lunch as a surprise – did you enjoy it? What did the teacher say about your essay on your favorite animal? How was the school picnic?”

He might be tired and sleepy. He might be having dinner while watching TV, so he’s not really in the mood for conversation. He says: “Nothing much. I loved the mango custard, thanks. She didn’t say anything about my essay. The picnic was good.”

He might get animated when it comes to the picnic, and give you details, but it won’t be the same as it would have been if you’d been home when he burst through the door screaming with excitement about all that happened at the picnic.

So here you are, doing everything you can to give your child quality time – focusing exclusively on him -but you’re conscious of something missing.

The fact is that quality time doesn’t work. All children, however old they are, need quantity time. First, there has to be quantity time. Quality time may come later.

This is why many working parents become jealous of their child’s caregiver. The child seems to bond so well with the caregiver, and the caregiver knows the child much better than they do!

 Obviously – what else do you expect? If someone is spending eight or ten hours a day 5 or 6 days a week with your child, they’re with him when he’s screaming, laughing, playing, teasing, talking, sleepy, messy, funny, grouchy – they share all those moments with your son.

And you hurt – because you would rather be the one who shared all this with your child, but you’re not.

So how can you, as a working person, get quantity time with your child?

Build it in.

Driving time is a superb example of this. In today’s day and age, most of us commute significant distances.  If your child is with you, actively use driving time. Asking her “what happened at school this week?” is a sure way to make sure she’s silent throughout.

Instead, you might want to start with a story of your own. How when you were little you dropped a bottle of water in the classroom, and what a mess it caused. You can be sure she’ll respond with some story – about how someone made a mess, or dropped food, or eats messily, and as easily as that, the stories will begin, and you can share her world, her time. 🙂 

Why do you want to do chores when she’s asleep? Let her do them with you! You’ll teach her that running a home involves work, you’ll train her, and you’ll share time and experiences with her. Isn’t that what you want? You simply can’t go wrong with this one.

The best part is that you can start doing this even with babies who are a few months old!

Preparing food? Let her hand you the vegetables. Washing stuff? Cleaning stuff? Wiping the table? Pouring things? Let her stir, season, arrange, put away, wipe, clean, dust. Yes, so long as she can sit, she can do all these things. The only one who thinks she can’t is you!

I’ve had 8-month old babies sit on the kitchen counter and transfer peas from a bowl to a pan. I’ve had them use long ladles to stir vegetables cooking on the gas with the flame on. I’ve taken them shopping, showing them what is a good tomato to buy, and how to pick potatoes. We’ve picked fruit, weighed vegetables, debated about buying one type of chips over another… You are the only one that’s limiting the time you spend with your child.

Want to wash the car? Well, sit him in it. Give him a cloth, show him how to wipe the dashboard and steering wheel, and let the fun begin! Maybe he’ll toot the horn. You can clean the windows and play peek-a-boo…

As your children grow, let them do more things with you. It’s easier, because they are able to do more things. But it’s important that you let them do those things.

Whenever you think the time is right, let them use electrical gadgets – the blender, the kettle, the microwave. Whenever you think they (and you! 🙂 ) are ready, let them use knives and sharp implements – let them peel and dice vegetables, hand you nails to hammer into the wall…

Do it with them – it’s less of a chore, and you’ll be amazed at the quantity and quality of time you get with your child. As you get things done together, you’ll also keep talking – sharing stories, thoughts and events.

Share your world with them. It’s only reasonable, don’t you think? After all, you want them to share their world with you.

P.S.   My father says I’m in danger of being arrested for breaking the law against child labor! 🙂

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