Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.

For quite a few months I have been following a serial called Ahilaya Bai Holkar on a popular TV channel. The show is based on Ahilaya Bai (as the title name), an amazing woman, her power, strength, and intelligence made her ahead in the male dominant society in that era. Our Indian history has inscribed her contribution as one of the most progressive leaders in those times. She had a vision for women empowerment and helped women to work in front as lead; also, she worked towards eradicating some conservative practices in Indian society. A queen with a liberal thinking, grace, and integrity. The list of her qualities is endless. Apart from this, her managerial skills and administrative skills were also exceptionally praiseworthy. An empathetic leader and a very calm and poised person, a keen listener, and an observer. Her personality and aura are beyond words. She excelled in all areas but, unfortunately lagged in one very major part of life. As a parent she missed out on emotional bonding with her son. She could not manage the transition into the adolescent phase of her son, and he became a rebel child. Ahiliaya bai may be due to her nature of work and the aspirations for the child made her a parent that was extremely structured and had strict boundaries that appeared like an over controlling parent. Somewhere she missed appreciating her son and most of the time it was a negative reinforcement. The tone and body language never appeared to be subdued. The son always felt that his mother was not supportive and dominating his actions and decisions.

Adolescence is a very critical time hence it is the age of stress and storm. An adolescent at this stage is neither a child nor an adult. They are growing towards adulthood and their focus is more on their ‘self’. There are many changes during this period: physically, emotionally, cognitively, and emotionally. All these transitions may result in mood swings, anxiety, anger issues etc. A child is in the process of learning, exploring, and discovering their identity. They start forming opinions and have their suggestions and points as they have developed with their knowledge and experience (though it is still not concrete). They are anxious and sensitive due to these changes and are more inclined towards their peers and friend’s. They may question and not easily accept adults point of views. The role of parents is very important at this stage in reinforcing a positive self-identity in a child.  A child wants to be “HEARD” and look for validation from parents. They are in the stage of building self-confidence. For them parents are the world and home is the place where they can open their heart and mind, a place where they can be their natural self. A non- judgemental behaviour and unconditional love are the keys to build a bond of trust and confidence in a child. Parents’ support and encouragement and giving them room to make mistakes for better learning and wisdom makes them feel respected and accepted. It is important that he feels that only his behaviour is condemned and not him. His mistakes should never shake the bond of love and trust.

Parents should be like a “lighthouse” in the life of the child, guiding and showing them path when they feel lost. Their unconditional love and understanding can help them to manage their emotions and anchor back their self- esteem. There may be disagreements and arguments, but patience is the only key to handle the challenges of growing old. Like in the above case Ahilaya bai appeared to have a controlling nature and had an expectation and a vision of making her son the future king. This aspiration not only reflected in her day-to-day behaviour towards him but also restrained her son to have a free play in growing years. He felt that his mother was cold towards him and he was always judged ( that made him lonely). The mother missed out preparing the child mentally for the situations and eventually the confidence. His young shoulders always felt the burden of expectations for which he was not prepared. Empathy and rapport were amiss due to which the child felt confused and frustrated. The perfectionist approach, controlling, commanding, demanding and judgemental behaviour created communication gaps. The strictness did not allow the child to nurture his personality; and the rules and regulations restricted his curiosity.

Every child is unique and should be treasured for his individuality. He is like a seed and parents are the gardeners in his life. The gardener takes care of its plants according to the type and the seasons; Similarly, every child is also different and should be reared accordingly. Never should they be dubbed with things prior to their age and understanding else they feel confused and frustrated.

Right proportion of discipline and freedom, careful nurturing and natural growth creates a Balance in Parenting. The child should feel safe and free in the shadow of his parents, a place where he can comfortably unburden his feelings. Parents’ words, views and opinions create and colour the child’s world and their appreciation is like a magic wand that can do wonders in the canvas of his life. When the child feels “LISTENED” with no apprehensions it makes them feel “RESPECTED” and the vice versa. They can sense the body language and tone and feel disturbed when not heard. It had a great impact on their developing minds and relationship with their parents/ caretakers. They need authority but only when they are able to understand the rationale behind it. A parent should firmly and patiently explain and set boundaries for the child. Lack of it may make them insecure and there is a high probability of getting them influenced by outsiders. Assurance and validation from parents in growing years along with love, warmth, and encouragement can navigate an adolescence to the desired track. Democratic style of parenting is a helpful and better approach for raising a teenager. Ahilaya bai was a great leader but it is important to understand that we do not use the same approach of our workplace at our home and kids. Children need a friendly parent where they are comforted with love and acknowledged for their efforts and not reprimanded for their mistakes but guided for it to improve. It can help an adolescent to grow into a happy and confident adult and an empathetic person that can positively contribute to the community and society.

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