September 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India
Are you fit to be a parent?
What your children can teach you
Are you fit to be a parent?
ARE you the perfect parent with angelic, well-mannered offspring? Or are you confused, concerned and convinced that your children are the most wilful and badly behaved in the world? Try this quiz. You may find you are doing better than you think.
1. You would be most flattered if your children regarded you as:
(a) A friend?
(b) A tyrant?
(c) Old-fashioned, but fair?
2. When you donít want your children to do something, do you:
(a) Tell them you would rather they didnít, explain why and let them make up their own mind?
(b) Tell them not to, but give a reason?
(c) Tell them they canít do it because you say so and leave it at that?
3. Do you think your childrenís friends are:
(a) Messy ó and you donít want them crossing your doorstep?
(b) A necessary evil you grin and bear?
(c) Welcome to have the run of the house and become your friends, too?
4. If you thought your teenaged daughter was sleeping with her boyfriend, would you:
(a) Fly off the handle and forbid it?
(b) Have a calm and serious talk about it?
(c) Make sure she knew about contraceptives?
5. Do you think compromising with a child is:
(a) Weak ó they wonít respect you if you do?
(b) Okay to do once in a while?
(c) The way to resolve a difference of opinion?
6. When you are deciding how much pocket money to give a child, which of the following do you think is most important to take into account:
(a) Making up to her for the things you didnít have when you were a kid?
(b) Making sure she has as much, at least, as her friends?
(c) Giving her some idea of the value of money?
7. Do you discuss personal worries with your children:
(b) Once in a while?
8. How would you describe your parents:
(a) Strict and cold?
(b) Firm and loving?
(c) Very permissive by the standards of their day?
9. Would you be happiest to see your son or daughter become:
(a) A doctor?
(b) An aspiring actor or actress?
(c) A street sweeper, as long as he enjoyed it?
10. When your children disagree with you, do you:
(a) Shrug it off ó all generations rebel against the one before?
(b) Throw up your hands in horror and ask yourself where you went wrong?
(c) Feel pleased that they are learning to think for themselves?
11. Do you have outings or joint activities with your children at weekends and during the holidays:
12. How often do you disagree with your childrenís taste in clothes and say so:
13. Do you smack your children:
(b) Whenever they make you angry?
(c) When you feel they have done something they know is naughty quite deliberately?
14. How many hours a week would you let an eight-year-old watch TV:
(a) Fewer than 10?
(b) Between 10 and 25?
(c) Whatever ó who cares?
15. How often do you ask your children what they did in school that day:
(a) Every day?
(b) About twice a week on average?
(c) Very rarely or never?
16. How often do you check up whether, or how well, children have done their homework:
(a) Every night?
(b) Once in a while?
17. How would you react if you found a packet of condoms in your teenaged sonís coat pocket? Would you:
(a) Challenge him about it?
(b) Talk to him calmly about it?
(c) Keep it to yourself?
18. When you feel punishment is called for, do you:
(a) Make it clear you donít love your children when they behave like that?
(b) Withhold privileges?
(c) Send the offender to his or her bedroom?
19. Do you have a lock on your bedroom door:
(c) Iím not sure
without going to have a look?
1 to 20:
Your children know where they stand with you and they have the security of knowing how far they can go. But, are they as sure that you love them? Children need both love and discipline. A firm attitude is easier to accept and less likely to provoke rebellion if itís given in a spirit of love.
Just take stock a little. Do you want your children to learn a set of rules only in order to keep the peace for as long as they are under your roof? If you hope to give them more than that ó an approach to life that will last when they are out of your clutches ó and if you donít want them yearning for the day they can get out ó relax the rules sometimes.
Be careful not to let yourself see your children as just a burden.
You probably get a bit discouraged at times and under-rate how good a job you are doing. So youíre not perfect, but you are doing pretty well. You enjoy your children and they like you. You have a nice balance between giving them enough of a framework for them to know where they stand and leaving enough elbow room for them to find a few things out for themselves as well. And they respect you. Carry on parenting!
You love your children and you get a lot of pleasure from one anotherís company. But be warned ó you could be being too tolerant for their good. Children feel more secure if they are given some firm guidance. Excess freedom creates bewilderment in the outside world ó especially as they are growing up, children need parents as well as friends.
And donít forget, they may be the centre of your universe, but sooner or later they have to live in a world that isnít going to go all their own way. For your own sake, make sure you have interests and times that are your own. If you donít, you could make it hard for yourself ó and for them ó when the time comes for your kiddies to leave the nest.
What your children can teach you
CHILDREN are innocent and ever open to life. Therefore, they can make us see things that we adults ó who are either too hardened with years or enmeshed in our cleverness ó fail to spot.
Too many wrong notions about growing old persist in adults. One is that we must say goodbye to all the vestiges of childhood as we slide into adulthood. This is totally absurd. As we grow in years, we lose our capacity to wonder, to be simple, spontaneous, alert, trusting and receptive to every aspect of life around us. However, there is no need to despair. We can regain our healthy, childlike spirit by closely observing our children. Here are a few lessons you can imbibe:
Look! How wondrous the world is. Alas! Adults lose their capacity to be amazed at things as they grow. Children are always bubbling with curiosity to know and understand everything around them. They continually ask questions that, at times, even adults find difficult to answer. Who made this world? Where God lives? How does a leaf know it is time to fall off a tree? We can enrich ourselves by picking up this wondrous quality found in children.
Rejoice in being what you are. Children do that all the time. They like to act and be what they are.
A small boy who was learning Hindi calligraphy wasn't succeeding at it. He would spill ink and make everything messy.
To encourage him, his father said: "Keep writing. One day you'll become the best calligrapher in your class."
"I don't want to be better than others," retorted the boy.
"Then why do you practice?" queried the father.
"It makes me feel good if I do a good job. I don't care whether I can outdo others or not."
This particular boy was doing exactly what he wanted to do. He was being his normal self - the easiest thing to do. The desire to excel was not for the sake of outsmarting others. The boy displayed creative daring and courage - something outstanding and positive - something which grown-ups could strive to emulate.
Take it easy and don't hold grouses. When children are healthy and free even for five minutes, they must play. And when they are at it, they're totally immersed in their games and oblivious of everything around them. While playing with their playmates, they quarrel, even exchange hot words and blows but soon enough, they get back to play. Their grouses don't last beyond a few hours or days. Why can't adults treat their quarrels and clashes in a similar manner?
Give unconditional love. Children can love in totality. You can behold unconditional love in their eyes. Certainly adults need children to show them things they don't see around them enveloped as they are in a cloak of so-called cleverness. Children, steeped in purity, respond to all living beings with a desire to know all about them.
Learn to trust. All children are essentially trusting. They are perennially interested in knowing and discovering everything around them. In their simplicity they can come up with startling observations that can awaken adults to wondrous things around them they have hitherto been oblivious of.
By learning from children, we can
become sensitive to many opportunities we are missing in our everyday
lives. Children can help us discover the oasis of childlike play and
'curiosity' hidden in us. Life thus lived would then become a continuous
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