Saturday, 22 March 2014

20 Parenting Tips l'd Have Given Myself 10 Years Ago

Fourteen years and God knows how many diapers and tears after I first became a mother, I can honestly look back and can imagine my current self scolding my past self about things I did wrong, or could have done differently, things I could have done better.

Life teaches you lessons, but even when brilliant advice is handed to you free of cost, it still takes a few stumbles before you really learn the lesson. Then you kick yourself thinking if only I had listened.

This post is about my own stumbles and bumps on the road that has led me up to this moment. No doubt there will be countless more along the way and the path is yet very long. So without further ado let's just get started...

Tip #1: Relax and take a breath- A new mother's hormones are always running on overdrive, ever watchful of her baby. Add in the daily household chores, social activities and countless other things, I used to forget to actually enjoy my baby. It was just get the job done kind of attitude. If I could go back in time, I'd let the dusting be for a couple of hours and just watch my kids play and indulge in their coos and laughter. I would have enjoyed the growing process more.

Tip #2: Read more to your kids- Children are very receptive to sounds and tones and can detect emotion from a very early age. They are especially more aware of their mother's voice. From as young as 8 to 10 months, reading stories and picture books does a world of good, and this practice can go on till they are sick of it which is by age 7 or 8. I had too much going on my life and could not find time to do this. But setting aside some time each day for this activity is a smart move.

Tip #3: Strive harder to breast feed- I could not breast feed my first born due to a health issue, but in retrospect, I could have tried a bit harder and not given up sooner. Luckily this thought helped me with my other kids and I managed to feed them full term except for the twins who needed top feed. Knowing the health benefits and advantages drove me to success.

Tip #4: Don't force feed- Most children are pretty much aware of how much they need, its a natural instinct, yet when I didn't know any better, I'd force my first two kids to the point where they'd be sick of it. Gradually I realized I was doing more harm than good, in fact many a kid become fat due to this reason. I wish I had a more relaxed attitude with regards to this. Now my life is so much easier knowing how to balance the healthy eating willingly, happily. I have a post related to this, just click here.

Tip #5: Don't freak each time they sneeze or have a tummy ache- Children fall ill all the time, its an unavoidable and integral part of their growing up. Treat minor issues with well trusted home remedies or over the counter medicines before breaking out the antibiotics. Be watchful and in a couple of days if they are no better or are rapidly deteriorating, its time to go to the doctor. I wish I had known this sooner.

Tip #6: Let their natural defenses build up- I was so protective back in the day that cold water, a snack out of time, a chocolate or jelly were totally banned. It was a good few years before I realized that ice cream would not give my kid a sore throat. I am much more relaxed now and the kids don't get half as sick as when I had impossible restrictions.

Tip #7: It's okay if they make a mess/ mess up- The former for young kids and the latter for older kids. It's okay, don't over react, and face it we do. I used to go ballistic if the baby spilled her bottle or when she scored less than favorable marks. Resolve the issue calmly. It can be done.

Tip #8: It's okay to take help from family- I had pride over my parenting skills, looking back now I ask myself, what skills? I was an ignorant fool who wanted to do it all myself, wanted to prove to everyone I was the best mother on earth and made an ass of myself. I realize now, family and trusted friends can provide the support that can prevent you from going insane. Advice, baby sitting and even emotional support are precious blessings, take them.

Tip #9: Don't take out your stress on the kids- Living with my husband's family had its pros, but obviously there are dimensions which complicate matters sometimes. Later I realized that stress is everywhere even if you have your own place. In those moments when you want to pull your hair out, make sure the child in your path doesn't bear the brunt of your fury. We take out our anguish on the young ones because they are ours and we can, but that does not make it fair. Take heed.

Tip #10: Be a parent over being a friend- I have come across the parenting method of being your child's best friend and I can't agree with that. You child will make friends, and he will get the pros and cons that come with friendships and learn to deal, only if you are a good parent to the children and they trust your decision above every one else. That can only happen when you set boundaries, when you advise and when you listen. That might be called being a friend, but I call it good parenting.Yet I am not saying it has to be all like that. Take time apart with your child and have fun.

Tip #11: Don't take your parenting critics to heart- There have been people who would say to me and still do, why do you do that with your children. Their tone is judgmental and condescending. I used to go into bouts of depression questioning myself, but now I know better. I listen to everything and take in what makes sense and let go what does not click with me. No hard feelings involved.

Tip #12: Your mom did make mistakes, you don't have to do the same- Just like every human on this earth, your mother was not perfect and bringing you up had another set of circumstances. It's okay to accept that the things she taught you and the behaviorism you acquired from her may not be right for your life. Remember also that your kid is not you, do not dictate your personality on theirs. It's a terrible cycle.

Tip #13: Provide structure- One of the most helpful things you can do it provide a structured lifestyle for your kids. This enables them to cling on to something stable and permanent. A belief system, a system that values the worth of time and all the bounties that come with this life, will translate into more responsible adults.

Tip #14: Accept your mistakes- I was young and full of myself as most young inexperienced people are, and I refused to accept certain parenting aspects that weren't providing my kids with any benefit. I should have let some things go. I regret prioritizing my need to please others over the comforts and needs of my kids. But then I realized, nothing was worth a tear shed from their eyes that screamed betrayal.

Tip #15: Caution in all things- Though by nature moms are protective, I feel we can always be more careful with respect to our surroundings, friends and technology. This is especially more true today than 10 years ago when things were relatively more simpler. Yet I wish I could have kept a more vigilant eye on the young ones to have prevented little physical accidents. In this day and age, I implore mothers to keep check over kids while they use the internet. Maybe ten years from now, this will not be a regret for you.

Tip #16: Reaching milestones is not a competition- Every child develops at his or her own pace. We often end up not only comparing the milestones and achievements of our kids with other kids but also with their own siblings. It's not cool. A child can walk at the age of one and not talk till the age of three and it could be completely different for the other child. I used to make comments like these even in front of the kids sometimes. Big regret, but I have learnt that it is one of the worse things to do.

Tip #17: Some semblance of responsibility right from the start- Grandparents are notorious for spoiling their kids, but its the spoiling that you do that can divert the path of the child. From an early age if a child is made to realize that actions have consequences, it can do your child a world of good in his future. Its a part of reality. As kids start to understand, delegating tasks and following through is a kind of tough love that only time will reveal the benefits of. But some of us have a weak spot and let things go. I wish I was a bit more thorough, but its never too late.

Tip #18: Involve dad- Nothing beats a supportive dad who works with you in a united front. Talk to your child's father about specifics on parenting. It's no surprise that majority of conflicts arise over this issue, and it does no good to the child to see their parents bickering over him. Get your minds in sync.

Tip #19: See the world from their point of view- In a rushed daily routine, it happens more than often that you brush off a child's efforts to communicate something important. I remember hastily plastering on a band aid on a little scrape in an effort to get back to finishing the cooking without pausing to wipe away a sad tear and get the back story. Sometimes the act of neglect can be the deepest type of hurt. Similarly I have come to slow done before proceeding and really listening to my kids, and trust me sometimes how I've analysed the situation is not at all how the child is seeing it, as a result he is behaving differently than you would expect. Don't do this.

Tip #20: Just be there- In the end just be there. Have your child know about your unconditional love, your complete support and have them earn your trust above all. And it can only be done if you do it right, or at the very least strive to do it right. There is no manual. There is only patience and love and hope that you will also expand your thoughts and be open to what your child is capable of.

Remember there is just no sure way to get it 100% right, but you owe it to yourself, your kids and the society to do your best. You constant strife to for the betterment of your children is what defines you, not the illusion of perfect parenthood.


  1. That was a really really good article Rahima! Hats off to you!

  2. I simply love it. Such simple things to remember and do, only if we paused, pondered and changed ourselves a bit.... Good luck to all mums, including me

    1. And good luck to me, its a struggle everyday to do right by your kids. Thanks for your comment.