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Pakistani Parenting And The Lost Art Of Communication

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Familial relationships either blossom your being or wither your soul away. I have observed, however, that the latter appears to be the reality, predominately, of our South Asian households. From listening to the heart-wrenching stories of my female counterparts, viewing the absolute fear in the eyes of my male colleagues upon scoring lower, to seeing the sheer disappointment and dread upon causing slight inconveniences, I have witnessed several similar behavioral traits among parent-child associations in my surroundings.

So, I penned down a few.

Lately, we have seen instances of shocking violence and despair, from an adult pounding his mother down, a daughter shooting her father to death, teenagers succumbing to drugs, etc. Depression or despair seem to be merely symptoms of a deeper underlying problem. It is a problem that goes on to give birth to traumas, mild or severe self-inflicted damage and psychological baggage that is hard to carry around.

This piece is essentially dedicated to old/new parents and parents-to-be, though every single one of us should unlearn a few characteristics so as to start afresh in life, building a healthy community for us and others. The focus would solely on the art of communication.

1) Before welcoming or upon the birth of your child, start working on your own hidden traumas that have paved way for your anger, insecurity, bewilderment, anxiousness, emotional instability or judgmental behavior. Most of the time, our flaws have long been conditioned into our systems, by societies at large, hence making it harder to escape rather easily.

2) The easier way to tackle our hidden traumas, I believe, is to share our feelings with each other (Parent-child) gradually. Parents instead of searching for validation outside – intermediate family or friends – should convey their emotions with their children. A parent-child relationship should be based more on companionship, where feelings are heard and respected, even if disagreements arise. Deeming each other important would palpably strengthen your bond.

3) Children would, through your help, grow up to be more empathetic, understanding, and exceptional communicators. I have seen young children to be rather quick learners, receptive and keen observers; your words and actions are picked up in a flash. Therefore, parents’ vulnerability, attention, appreciation and positivity shape a child to be an overall better human being in the long run.

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4) Mistakes and fallout are inevitable. Treat your child as a human being, susceptible to human error – just like you! You have mood swings, so do children. You have sudden tantrums, so do children. You feel emotional without a reason, so do children. Children go through hormonal changes and the effect on behavior is unavoidable. Do not tackle such issues with violence, yelling, name-calling or extreme anger.

5) If your child has surrendered to substance usage due to peer pressure, resorting to violence to teach a lesson is just as dangerous. What you say into existence remains there forever. Thus, effective communication is a universal medium to fill in the cracks in our relationships. Talk the matter out, engage in conversations, reach an end goal. Make your children understand the intensity of their mistake; ground them, take away their luxuries, tone down your friendliness till they learn their lesson, maybe?

6) Acknowledge your child’s feelings: if and when your child mentions regarding his/her depression, anxiety, inability to make friends, heartbreak, intolerance, anger issues, vulnerability, etc. Please do not choose to shame or neglect his/her feelings. Parental neglect will nevertheless make children extremely secretive and discreet. Listen to your children, even in insignificant matters!

7) Allow your children to chase their own dreams, choose their own subjects, make their own career, settle down with a life partner of their choice, or just life in general. Don’t live your life through them! Even if they make a mistake along the way, support them through; be their guide, not imposers. The “Ah, told you so” mentality needs to go. Let your positivity be the road to their contentment!

8) Learn to accept that your child is an individual with his/her own emotions, thoughts, opinions, and perspective towards life. If their decisions are not calling their doom or death, leave it be. Agree to disagree, please?

9) Insecurity seeps deep within when unnecessary comparison comes into the limelight. Do not favour or discriminate among children/siblings due to gender. Beauty, intellect, talent, or skills are, more so, subjective. Do not put your children in the same box or mold; each is different, in and out. You may end up gifting them lifelong insecurity to deal with.

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10) Not everyone is a high achiever, not everyone is a low grader. Parents need to focus on the attainment of beneficial knowledge, rather than beneficial marks/grades. Expecting shiny medals, high scores, additional certificates and what not, all the time, only proves to be a burden. This also makes filial love conditional: should you rely on the laurels or joy of your children? You decide. Show your appreciation regardless of their level of success.

11) Let your children have a say in family matters. Don’t overpower or under-power them. Children are a part of family, make them feel too. If you see them as important beings, they will see you that way, too.

12) This issue, somehow, is the biggest of all and regrettably, I have encountered this uncountable times, at uncountable homes. There is so much hesitancy and fear around fathers! I have seen numerous girls lying to their fathers, boys not being able to communicate at all; the entire house becomes pin-drop silent, TV channel gets changed, children run into their rooms. What for? A father should be an associate, not an autocrat!

13) If this cycle does not break soon enough, we will continue producing cowards. Appreciate your children daily, find little things about them and if they do wrong, correct them politely whilst guiding them to do better.

Love begets love. Hatred begets hatred. If we try to understand our children better – no matter the age – they will grow out to be more loyal, trustworthy, communicative, respectful, and purely empathetic. Trust your children and their life decisions: most often they will not be a disappointment. Rather, they will contribute positively to society and live a cheerier life.

Reminder: Children, by virtue of being humans, will always remain flawed, no matter what. However, the extent could possibly be limited. In a nutshell, be their wings to help them fly, their pillars to rely on and their source of ultimate joy.

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Naya Daur