Saleh Al Shaibany –
Raising a child is not a trade you learn before you become a parent or get a special qualification in an education institution. The ‘job” is landed on your lap and most of the time you wonder if you are really up to the task.
The psychological turmoil is endless and you question yourself whether the course of action you took five minutes ago was the right one. Years later, when your children have grown up, you realise the odd habits your children now exhibit might well have been the result of those few seconds of glaring at them when they were knee high.
The funny thing of being a parent is that one is so engrossed of earning a living that everything else does not matter. You convince yourself you are doing it for their “future”. A big part of it is their education.
The tragedy in this popular but over-estimated philosophy is that we don’t realise that high in the list of their future well-being is paying attention to their day-to-day emotional needs.
A three-year-old does not cry to annoy parents or pull up a tantrum to make our lives a misery. They do it because we ignore them most of the day, leaving them at their own devices with toys and television. It is a cry for help because somewhere deep inside them there is a void we fail to fill.
While earning money is important to pay the mortgage but if you measure the emotional needs of your child and your career, we should know that the former should register a scale of 7 out of 10.
As a parent myself, I often rewind the days when my children were growing up. There is never a single day that I don’t wish I could have done better or could have handled a situation in a more meaningful way. Like other parents before me, I had no instruction manual or blueprint to follow.
Looking back at all those years, I put myself in a dark room with just a torch to light up my way in the road of parenthood. I am not looking for an excuse for the things I should have done but did not do them.
However, I now realise the key to good parenthood is time management and in that, most us have or will fail miserably, under the pressure of modern but demanding life. But the question I always have but find no concrete answer, is that, could I have learned something from the days I grew up in my parents’ home?
Perhaps I could have drawn comparison. Or just perhaps I used the excuse that the environment I grew up in was just different from the one I raised my own children. I sometimes look for evidence of the skills, or lack of it, at my job as a father, if there is anything I could detect in my grown-up children now.
The horrible question I harbour is that will my children walk the same path of parenthood that I walked with them when they were under my custody? If they do, will I be able to commend them or criticise them? Either way, it would reflect on my own skills as a father. I guess they have to chart their own pathways and hope it would turn up for the best.
One thing I am convinced now is that the journey of parenthood is like a boat sail at the mercy of the sea without navigational aids. The water is not always calm. The winds change direction without serving a notice and the waves toss you up without a warning. I think in rough weather, you should do to your children what you would instinctively do on such boat expeditions. Put your arms tight around them until the storm is over.