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Sorry, I Refuse To Participate In The Parenting Rat Race

14/09/2016 1:20 PM IST | Updated 15/09/2016 8:11 AM IST
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In an effort to avoid transforming into something we almost always end up becoming it.

One of the things I never want to do as a parent is to constantly talk about my daughter with every person I meet. While she's special to us and everything she does is adorable for us, it would be silly of me to think it is the same for others. It would, in fact, be doltish of me to think everyone else is interested in the things she does as much as we are. And it certainly wouldn't be fair to expect someone to lend me a patient ear as I go on non-stop about her. It's not even the decent or polite thing to do.

A baby's first teeth, the first time she crawls and even her weight seems to be a competition to some parents.

Another trait that I want to avoid as a parent is to force her to dance, recite a poem, and basically perform in front of every guest who comes home. She's not a show monkey, is she? I don't want to become like that neighborhood aunty who used to make her son sing and dance every time she came visiting. No, sir, I don't.

While I am doing quite well at the former, I realized I almost goofed up on the latter. Here's why I say so. Last week when a friend came visiting, we began asking our daughter to do the things she had started doing lately. You know, tata and salute, new baby lessons. Of course, she being a baby didn't do any of the things and in a way, I'm glad she didn't because just then an alarm went off in my head. I realized we were being just like the people we didn't want to emulate in the first place. We were becoming that aunty, only 15 years later.

There are so many things one needs to keep in mind to be a good parent. Millions of things actually. And these days it seems even more difficult. I don't know if it has always been like this but parenting and raising kids seems to be a competition now. And I don't want it to be like that for me. I'll tell you why I think so.

Just last week a mother asked me if my daughter had started saying Mama or Papa yet. To ask that was fine. But when I told her that all she speaks now is basically gibberish, she confided that her son had spoken his first clear words when he was just six months old. Well, good for her and her son but I definitely didn't like the undertone and subtext of what she said. Not that I was surprised. A baby's first teeth, the first time she crawls and even her weight seems to be a competition to some parents. I'm no expert in parenting but I know this isn't right. And I absolutely abhor this kind of thought process.

My husband and I, we want our daughter to grow at her own pace. Sometimes when we tend to worry or forget this, we pull each other back. But never has it come in our minds to compare her with another child, let alone talk disparagingly about another child with another parent. But not everyone does that these days. Believe me.

I don't know if good parenting really is in not letting kids be kids. If it is then I don't want to be a good parent.

A couple of weeks earlier a friend said something about parents wanting more homework for kids. I don't know but I can't see the logic in that. Shouldn't we just let kids be kids? And there's more, someone told me about IIT coaching starting from the 4th standard these days. Really? There are exams for 4- or 5-year-olds - computer, languages and what not as subjects. Where is the time for a child to be a child then? I don't know if good parenting really is in not letting kids be kids. If it is then I don't want to be a good parent.

A couple of months earlier, a lady tried to sell me course material for my daughter. Apparently, it's recommended to start teaching kids early. Really? She is just 10 months old now so she must have been 7 or 8 months old then.

Won't kids burn out early if we push and shove them so much? And why complicate lives by comparing kids? I heard somewhere that progress isn't in being better than or superior to someone else. Progress is being better than your old self. And I want to follow this as I raise her. I also hope she grows up thinking and believing the same. We cannot prosper and progress if we keep running while constantly looking behind.

Don't you think parenting should be about raising a happy child instead of a perfect child, as though it's some kind of a competition?

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