By Dr. Devaraj V. Raichur
have a question for parents: do you want your child to perform most effectively now and in the future? The answer is obvious: YES! All of us want our children to be happy and the most effective in all constructive aspects of their lives!
What is parenting? It is the process of raising a child to promote and support his/her physical, emotional, social and intellectual development. It is known as “child-rearing”, too.
The issue of excellence in parenting can be related to the immediate context and the long-term context. The immediate context is that we, as parents, want our children to express their full potential. We want our children to develop the ability to overcome the distractions and diversions (that could happen due to the innocence of childhood and the confusion of adolescence) that could take them away from constructively building their lives. Families with enabling children are more likely to be happy and content.
In the long-term and larger, the context for excellence in parenting is that communities with well-parented children are highly likely to develop into highly constructive and cooperative societies. When extrapolated to the world at large, good parenting practised consistently worldwide would make possible peace and happiness exist throughout the world.
What would make that possible? This is an interesting question. The answer is all of us, the parents, learning “parenting skills”. As we know, biologically speaking, humans are a kind of animal. One might ask: “Don’t other animals parent their offspring?” Yes, they do. But we need to answer the following question, too: “As human beings, do we accept the kind of results that other animals produce with their kind of parenting?” Even our ancestors parented their children, mostly in a passive manner, for various reasons, including a relatively higher number of children. That is a kind of “default parenting”. So, why is it necessary to learn parenting skills?
Let us consider the kind of parenting that is without any special efforts from parents to learn how to rear their child to produce an optimal expression of the child’s potential, as “Default Parenting”. These children will likely perform sub-optimally or mediocrely as a result. In one view, it might as well be considered as an injustice done to the child’s potential. As compared to a few decades ago, today’s parents have relatively fewer children, and, obviously, as parents, they would like to give the best experience and results to their children. Thus, in today’s age of “information explosion”, parents have a choice of continuing to practice “default parenting” or they could provide, by taking some extra steps, “optimal parenting”.
For the latter, parents must learn from recent objective evidence of what works and what doesn’t in parenting, and they must be open to receiving newer information, examining it, and, if appropriate, adopting it. That could pave the way for excellence in parenting, as we shall see in the discussion that follows.
Parenting is an art as well as a science. Many of us learn how to parent based on our own experiences and interpretations of observations, such as how we were raised by our parents; how our relatives, friends, and neighbours parented their children; what seemed to work and what did not work in our interpretation (however biased it may be) of what we observed, and so on. We might have been impressed by the control a “strict” or “terrorizing” father had on his children and tend to adopt that as our style of parenting.
If we dislike being controlled by our parents, we may be overly lenient with our children to keep them from hating us! What we don’t realize is that each of our parenting behaviours acquired in this manner might have its limits defined by our experiences. Our experiences, in general, are heavily culture- and environment-dependent, and can vary from family to family and from society to society. As a result, most of our personal parenting experiences are far from universal.
Our ideas, opinions and behaviours about parenting in such situations are likely to be those of a “frog in the well”–restricted, opinionated and may even be non-constructive. Understandably, the outcomes of such default parenting may not be optimal for realizing the full potential that a child is endowed with.
Like any other aspect of science, the Science of Parenting is also undergoing continuous scrutiny and refinement. The various artful aspects (“skills”) of parenting are being tested and compared. What is “best” is being refined and redefined? As we all know, evidence-based practices promise to produce “optimum results” in almost all contexts.
To reap the benefits of the Science of Parenting, parents must stay current with advances in the field of parenting, instill learning in their behaviour, and put it into action. This approach, concerning parenting, allows parents to overcome the limitations their own experiences impose on them, empowers them to examine what is humanly possible rather than being restricted by one’s own opinions, and thus enables them to provide their children with the best that they can.
The most appealing part is that today, such information is easily accessible, too! What is needed is parents willing to learn and excel!
That’s all for now. In the coming days, let us further discuss various aspects of parenting.
- The kind of parenting we provide for our children has implications for children’s optimal development – physical, emotional, social and intellectual,
- satisfaction and happiness in families,
- a cooperative environment in society, world peace.
- There is information on, and access to, how parenting can be improved.
- Learning parenting skills as well as being well-informed about the developments in the Science of Parenting is important.
- We, as parents, have the option of realising the optimal expression of our children’s potential.
- Excellence in parenting is a choice and is possible!
The author is a Paediatrician and Managing Director of Sushruta Multispeciality Hospital and Research Centre Pvt. Ltd. Vidyanagar, Hubballi – 580021 you can reach him : email: [email protected]
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