After months of seeking help to climb onto the couch in our living room, the other day, my toddler managed to gracefully do it, all on her own. Much to my surprise, though. Guess I was expecting her to look up to me, point at the couch, and mumble loudly for a helping hand, or a slight push from the bottom. Sigh!
As an extension of this first lesson, she tried to climb on to our bed, too. Albeit, an unsuccessful attempt; at least for now. This new development has charged up the vigilante in me—keeping an eye on her each time she climbs up, making sure she doesn't topple off. And one of these days, she tried to walk off straight from the bed when she woke up after a nap. I ran to her, telling her to freeze right there, and picked her up as she cried in protest.
Cut to same scene, Take 2: My daughter is standing on the bed, all determined to walk straight down. My husband walks up to her, and tells her: “Sit down, and get down. Hasn't Appa taught you how to do that?” The one-year-old little one was quick to follow the instruction. She sat down on the mattress, clung on to it, and slid her way down slowly. After the safe landing, she joyfully clapped—self appreciation for having done it right. Wow. I did not teach her to do that. Of course, her Appa did.
This set me thinking about how my husband and I approached the same situation differently. Was I going to be a boring, fussy mother, and he the cool dad? That's a heart-breaking thought. Growing up with a control-freak parent, and an easy-going parent at the same time can be a challenging journey for a child. Imagine growing up with a mother who comes up with ifs and buts for every little thing, and a dad who has a solution to pretty much everything under the sky. In situations like these disagreements arise and tantrums can fly hither-thither—between children and parents, and between the husband and wife, too.
While the cool parent mostly ends up anchoring all the fun activities, and tiny adventures, the so-called boring parent ends up planning, run errands, and ensuring dad and kids remain safe through their adventures. If both partners, however, strike a balance between their parenting styles, children can grow up in a happy home where both fun and the serious stuff go hand-in-hand.
Such homes do not just spring up, they need to be made. It takes effort to strike such an engaging chemistry, despite basic differences and opinions about life and parenting. For instance, when my husband teaches my daughter to get down the bed, he stands back and watches as she tries it out. My first instinct would be to worry if she would fall, and pick her up if she does. But if I hold back that instinct, trust my daughter to make it through, and trust my husband to help her out when need be, I would have a better situation at hand. The child learns a new skill, and everyone is happy. This trick can be applied to most situations. Identifying your style of parenting, and that of your partner's, is key to creating a happy childhood for our children.
Occasionally, role reversals, too, would be ideal. For instance, I take off my overly functional 'thinking hat' for a while, relax and focus on just the fun part. And my husband puts it on and worries about where we should head for the next trip, is it friendly for our daughter who is allergy-prone, are baby food options easily available, what all should we carry along, and so on and on and on. Phew! What a task.
It helps to look from the other side of things, and give each other a break. Don't be pushy. Let the kids have some fun.