My older son is 13 years old and my younger one is 11. My friends have children around these ages. I know their children in close quarters. I have interacted with them and have heard about them from my friends. One distinct quality that stands out and takes me by surprise is their identity or their uniqueness. I see each child being their own person at such a young age. In my children, I clearly see their likes and dislikes. They have opinions, some pretty strong ones. Their choices and preferences are clear to them. They make an attempt to explain it to me. I can have a conversation with them, to understand their choices and the reasoning behind those choices. My friends tell me the same thing.
As I experience this, I reflect upon my years at this age. I don’t think I even had an opinion. Was I supposed to have one? I am not sure. I did what my parents said. If they told me to study, I did, if they told me it was time to eat, I ate, if they took me out, I went. I don’t intend to blow my trumpet about my obedience as a child, but I’m sure everyone in my generation, did the same thing.
We were aware of our surroundings, We knew about what was happening around us. We were more environment-centric than self-centric (in a good way). We did form our opinions, likes and dislikes, but that was after we stepped out of school, got into college, met people from diverse backgrounds. The tweens of today are already there.
A direct consequence of this self-awareness in children today, is that their obedience quotient may have taken a hit. It could be the empowerment they get at a very young age or could it be that my generation is at the cusp of the old and new? We are empowering them. When they feel empowered, they need a reason and rhyme for every action we ask them to undertake. In short, what we asked of our parents as 18 year olds, our children are asking of us at age 12.
My generation has to shed some concepts of parenting style that we imbibed from our parents. The basic virtues of honesty, respect, humility, integrity, etc is what we have to pass on. But at the same time, we should strike the balance of independence early on in their lives.
It is challenging. Oh hell, YES! Everyday! Most times I feel I am playing whac-a-mole or juggling more balls than I can handle. But each time its a learning. It’s not only children who grow up, we too grow as parents. Its that growth that we need to embrace. We should step out of our conventional concepts of parenting and be open to mend our methods according to new demands, without compromising on basic virtues. As parents, I believe we should nurture their uniqueness and let them bloom into the hybrid flower they were meant to be.
Another day, another lesson…!