Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Two on the team

When we trade in our “couple” life and become parents, there is a lot of learning that we have to do. In fact, it’s like being in a new relationship and getting to know the person all over again.

At times this can be really frustrating, but for the most, it’s great to see your partner evolve into a nurturing and caring person. Look at a strong independent man, then hand him a baby to cradle… it’s a whole new picture!

Same as any new relationship, you need to give the other person time to breathe and find their own way around. When Iman was born, I had a set idea in my mind about parenthood, and in the beginning I tried to mould Omair into a frame of fatherhood that I thought was correct. Over time I realized that I was being unfair to everyone. I was robbing Omair of a great experience, I was robbing Iman of a natural father and I was robbing myself of the opportunity to see my spouse become a “dad”.

When I loosened up a little, I learned that Omair is a great father. He has his own techniques and ways of handling Iman. In fact, during times of great stress (read: public temper tantrums) Omair is much better at calming Iman down.

However, as Iman turned into a toddler, she started to realize that mom and dad are two separate people, who at times will handle situations differently, and she started to use that to her advantage. We had a “cookie incident” a few months ago, where Iman asked me for a cookie and when I turned her down, she asked her dad, who eagerly agreed and let her have it (RIGHT BEFORE DINNER!!). It was then that I realized that the “little one” was not so “little” any more. She had learned the concept of divide and rule, and that was the same time that Omair and I sat down and laid out our own “parenting plan”.

Part of raising a child is to ensure that there are no mixed messages. If dad says one thing and mom says another, the child doesn’t know which one is right. So you and your partner need to talk through your decision making process and make sure that you stand a united front. In a situation where you disagree with your spouse, DON’T make a scene in front of the child. Let the situation continue, but remember to talk it out later (when the child is not around).

Here are some things that you should NOT do in front of your children…
#1. Don’t put each other down or insult each other.
#2. Don’t fight.
#3. Don’t disagree (sometimes you might have to bite your lip and wait for a better moment to talk it out).

Here are some things that you SHOULD do…
#1. Hug your spouse or show some sign of (acceptable) physical affection (your children learn from you).
#2. Point out at least one nice thing about your spouse (Example: Look Iman, baba is wearing such a nice tie today.)
#3. Share some family time EVERY day (which involves ALL members of the family).

Children look towards their parents for security, but they can’t find it unless they know that their parents are on the same team. In order to raise great kids and have a great family, you need to set a good example as parents.

5 Comments:

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Dariush Alavi said...

Wonderful words of wisdom.

Speaking of having to adjust to having a baby, I think the problem is made even more difficult by the fact that in the West, people are having children so much later in life. It's one thing to adjust to a new person in your life when you're 22/23 years old, but quite another if you're 32 or 33, when you've had that much more time to get set in your ways.

 
At 8:05 PM, Blogger Lorraine said...

When The Child was small we used to have little conversations at every developmental milestone about what she was doing and how we should handle it. It worked great...we were always on the same page.

When the milestones started spreading themselves out, we got out of the habit but now that she's approaching teendom we realize that we've got to get back to that basic approach. If ever we need to be on the same team it's now!

 
At 2:18 AM, Blogger Asma said...

Children have especially keen senses and they pick up things VERY quickly. Setting a good example is right on the mark. I've seen kids who yell and disrespect their parents and others, but if you look closely, you can tell that that is EXACTLY what the parents are doing.

Another thing to remember is that good parenting is not a goal, its a process. Each day offers new opportunities for learning and the good ones (hopefully) get better and better with time.

 
At 9:44 AM, Blogger mayya said...

mashAllah Iman's too bright =)

 
At 4:33 PM, Blogger life in words said...

this is awesome advice. ive seen parents behave so badly towards each other front of their children. not only to each other but to other elders. and then kids think its invariably OK to talk to elders in the same way.

 

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