Got a call from one of my best friends today! Let us call her Kay! She lives in Dublin and when I used to live there, our calls would be normally about an hour, if not more and this would be more like three to four days a week! Don’t even ask me what we had to talk, but we had loads to talk about. Food, places, movies, books, our own families, kids and much more.
It was the same today! This was a long pending call and once it started we had so much to say, we were nearly on the phone for two hours! 🙂
I always find that talking out loud to someone clarifies a lot of things (in my case, talking quietly in my mind to my alter ego too helps)! That is what happened today.
I am going to write here a part of our conversation and what turned out of it…
I was talking about how my two stop eating when they are full and most of the time, the fight at the dinner table is because they do not finish that extra spoon of something that is left over. My husband wants them to finish it and they don’t so they look at me for support and I let go.
Kay: Are they looking at you because you support them?
Me: I suppose so!
Kay: Do you think what you are doing is right? How will they learn to adjust to the world? Will they not become children who take the “it is my way or the high way” route? How will it damage them to eat that two spoons extra if it keeps their father happy?
Me: I have taught them to say “No” when it is a no and I think we should respect that, whether it is someone touching their body or whether it is forcing them to do something.
Kay: But that is different, I would agree with touching, but eating is such a small thing, this will not affect them in any way if they do it right?
This is when I started thinking! I realised something…
Do my children have a problem adjusting to the world? The answer is no! Should they stick to their guns of not eating when their stomach is full? The answer is YES!
Simple things, whey do we force our children to finish off food? Because we think food shouldn’t be wasted? Because someone has taken that extra effort and time to cook that food? Because there is someone starving because they cannot that extra food?
I am not a person to waste food too, but my son clearly says “Amma, I do not have a problem eating that for dinner, you can stick it in the fridge and heat it up and serve me the same thing!” So that food is not going to get wasted actually! The question of food being wasted is gone straight away!
As for that extra two spoons not doing any damage, I know exactly what that does. I have struggled many nights to sleep because of that extra two spoons would suffocate me, make me struggle physically and the sleepless night would give me mental strain the next day and I would spend an entire day grumpy, angry and frustrated! So a small “two spoons that do not do any damage” can actually cause more damage than one can imagine!
Also, teaching a child to eat that extra two spoons to adjust to someone or keep someone happy is not the right thing to do. We have to teach our children to respect their bodies. They should not have to do anything they are not comfortable doing just to keep someone happy! This will save us a lot of heartache in the future. Just a few examples… allowing bad touch because it will make someone happy, smoking or drinking or taking drugs because it will make someone happy… you get it! Let children learn to respect their bodies and let us learn to respect their decisions.Let us teach our children to be assertive!
I also realised that by letting my children say “No” I wasn’t teaching them to go against the society without any reason.They are happy children who love meeting people. They have friends from six-month-old babies to seventy-year-olds who are always happy to meet them. I have never seen my children hit or fight with other children, yes they fight with each other and that is a different story altogether! They have always been admired as good children wherever they have been.
My two are empathetic and do understand where they have to adjust! For example, my son was asked to do a book reading in the library and when I told him that, he said that he would read the story that himself and his sister made up. As a mother, I would have loved it, but I also know that it is not a story that they could read in the library and keep the rest of the world engaged. I told him about that and left it.
Last week was my story telling session at the library and when that finished, I was talking to the librarian and my son was hanging around too and we were talking about different books that he could read… I said, “What about Tenalirama, Vikram and Betal or Malgudi days?” My son immediately went “I don’t think Malgudi days is for small children amma!” I just told him once and he was there to witness my event, so he knew what age group children were there, so it was easy for him to understand, adjust and decide to what the children there would like!
So what started off as a conversation about “two spoons of extra food” brought out a lot of things!
In the end we did agree that parenting is different for each parent based on the situation and the child and everything else and there is no right or wrong! 🙂