The Bespectacled Mother

Parenting conflict: Is it about me or is it not? #MondayMusings

 

 

It is not about me. It is about the situation.

It is not about me. It is about the situation.

As I laid out the greens, palak and methi, in front of me to begin sorting and cleaning, I repeated the above words in my mind. But, this chanting was not doing its work because the mind had made the situation to be all about me.  After a few minutes, this tussle between the 2 states of mind had given rise to a throbbing headache. In that moment, all kinds of thoughts began bombarding –

Why is raising a child so tough?

Why can’t I be enough to deal with all kind of situations effectively?

Why did I succumb to the pressure of having a child in the first place?

Why didn’t I just settle for a pet dog or something instead of having a child?

These questions were not helping at all if only increasing the headache.

In the afternoon that day, while I was lying down with writhing pain caused by a dental procedure, there was a phone call. I heard Dhruv picking up the call and talking on the phone. He was speaking to his father, on the speaker, who asked Dhruv if everything was going well in the school, school bus and apartment and Dhruv started telling him his long list of incidences with a separate set of boys who had been troubling him at school, in the school bus and also in the apartment. He told him (Papa) that he didn’t feel like going down to play any longer in the evening because of this.

 

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My Instagram update

 

I heard husband telling I had been wrong in assessing Dhruv’s not wanting to go down to play as I had made it up about his wanting to read the new Tinkle (my Instagram update), thereby missing the actual reason. To me, this sounded like my failure. It felt like all my efforts and the progress I had made with Dhruv in terms of reading and establishing a love for books being discounted.

Thereafter, there were a lot of confidence building measures addressed with the suggestions to hit back, threaten hard (with dire consequences), shove and push. I could make out this was creating the intended impact with Dhruv agreeing to go down to play without the fear (or was it to live up to his Papa’s words). I don’t feel nice about this way, neither did I then. For me, aggression does not solve a problem. It begets more aggression.

I believe in working on strengthening from inside, whether it is me or Dhruv. I am aware he is highly sensitive and thus his troubles with people are unending. I have intervened in a few instances during this year, both at school and the apartment, but the moment I solve one instance, another one rears its head. At one point, I realized I cannot go on and on fighting his battles and he has to learn to step up for himself, so what if he is only 6. I always talk to him about the strength and power of his mind to say NO and to believe in his voice. I keep up this dialogue but this is not comforting with no immediate results, hence not working.

My method is passive, Papa’s is more active, immediate and thus dependable. So what if Dhruv cannot go out being physically aggressive, still Papa’s way is right. And, I cannot take this choice away from him.

What does a child make out of conflicting parental advice? How do both the father and the mother resolve the conflict with each one having their own contrasting personality traits and beliefs, when all they have is a phone call at hand with the limitation of time and money?

Linking this post with #MondayMusings hosted by Corinne Rodrigues

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13 thoughts on “Parenting conflict: Is it about me or is it not? #MondayMusings

  1. Its very difficult for the child to comprehend what is the underlying message being communicate, when the parents give conflicting advice. MOst often these conflicts are in itself an outcome of the conflicting personalities of the parents. That is why the child never becomes like either of the parents, but develops his own understaing and personality!!

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  2. Perhaps a consolidated view taking into account both ways will unconfuse him. And sometimes you have to let them work it out on their own.

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  3. Well, I don’t have any answers, Anamika. But what I can say from my experience is that my parents more often than not give me contrasting advice when it comes to dealing with situations at work. While my dad believes in working hard and not entering into conflict, my mom wants me to give it back. Needless to say, I listen to my mom more often than not because that’s what my personality is. But then I’m very old now and I don’t know what I used to do as a kid. But you are right, you cannot fight every battle for Dhruv. And even though it is hard, you have to let him choose. Of course, you will always be there to hold him if he needs you. Don’t beat yourself up on this. You are doing so much Anamika and all of it alone. Don’t feel guilty for a moment.

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  4. Conflicting parenting advice is a given. I face similar situation with my son. Fathers usually advice sons to be aggressive. You are a great mom and don’t take it as a failure, This is just a learning for you and Dhruv.

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  5. Oh, this is the classic dilemma. I think most dads are like Dhruv’s dad including my husband. Both my kids are sensitive kids. And there were many occasions when they came home in tears when they were bullied or a child pushed them or was abusive with them. With the elder son, I tried to intervene a few times but like you mentioned, one situation rose after another. And then the husband and I jointly decided that we have to make him strong enough to fight his own battles. We taught him how to retort and things to say when other children laugh or tease or make fun. And while like you, I am not in favour of violence, I did tell them that if someone hits them, they had a right to defend themselves and give it back. Of course, I should never get a complaint of them punching or hitting someone without provocation. That helped my elder son and he slowly started handling his own heartbreaks and mean kids. It is a long and challenging process, Anamika but it will work. Dhruv is very young, give him time. And yes, a therapist I had visited told me that no matter how we disagree, we must speak in a unified voice as parents. Don’t worry, kids quickly understand that both methods work. One in the short term and the other in the long term. Ask your husband to reiterate yours when he discusses his and you do the same. That way you both will seem on the same page even with different approaches. Hope that helps.

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  6. Anamika,
    I feel so much for you as I am one of the moms who used to and still goes fighting my children’s battles for them. Believe me, children love it and feel really good when someone fights their battles for them, though you may think they would rather take Papa’s advice and ” My Papa’s strongest” sort of thing. Right now, as Dhruv’s papa is not in station, you feel he heeds Papa’s advice more and it may be true for a while. Children love novelty and the familiar becomes boring to them. Papa being far away, is a novelty to him, so he is willing to adopt Papa’s advice but he will be thinking over your teachings in his mind, I assure you.
    These days, I try to back off a bit( my children are 24 and 18) but there are occasions when I want to fight for them or send off a “stinker” email or something. I cringe when I think of the number of occasions I have done this in the past.
    My only advice is for the current situation, let him take Papa’s advice. When the next issue comes up, make an arrangement with him that he follows yours and so on. After a while, he may learn to understand how to deal with the situation on his own counsel.( maybe a friend would advise him).
    Susie

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  7. I can’t give you any advice, Anamika, except tell you that you are doing a great job, singlehandedly, so you must not be so hard on yourself. And, as Rachna says, stand by a what your husband says so Dhruv knows you are on the same page. That is the most important thing for a child to realise.
    Hugs to you, my dear!

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  8. I’m not a parent, so I wouldn’t say much but that both parents would always want the best for the child and they need not follow the same path. I’ve seen couples fighting endlessly over matters related to their children and I don’t think it is healthy for the child at all. Both parents should talk it out away from the reach of the child and come to one decision. It need not be a ego battle, just something that feels right from both their ends.

    All the best in the journey of parenting, Anamika.

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  9. From the point of view of a child I once was, i would have loved to have been given the opportunity to have conflicting parent advice. In the end, different advices will give more options from which the kid can decide by himself/herself. Having just one type of advice when life situations are so diverse, can limit a person. Sometimes it is good to retreat, sometimes it is good to face things head on, sometimes there is a third way to solve things, the rest of the job will be for the kid to start building his/her own judgement and figure out when to choose which 😊

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  10. Rajlakshmi on said:

    I felt really bad that you had to go through all these emotions. I am not a parent so I can’t really give any solution. It is very difficult to show a unified front when both of you have conflicting ideologies. My parents had few when we were growing up. We took whatever advice worked for us. Dhruv is too young too see this. I think he would like to go with what workals for him.
    Plus how can kids be so cruel… I fail to understand that.

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  11. Parenting is a hard job. In my mind, if parents have one voice, it would be helpful for the child. When children grown up, they will become open to varied thoughts but that comes later. I liked your reflective post. My mind wants to tell you many things but I am sure you are thinking about that as you pack bags. ❤

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  12. Esha M Dutta on said:

    I understand your feelings, Anamika. I’ve had and am still having days that make me feel great as a parent somedays because some strategy I devised yielded great results and then, a few days later, having a day that makes me feel like I’m a complete failure. No matter how difficult it seems, let me tell you you are doing an awesome job as a parent. Many of the results you are seeking right now (Dhruv’s reading habit or his confidence in learning to face the other kids) are things that take time, and you have to give yourself some time to wait and watch. He will do what you say, but first let him decide. I have learnt to let go sometimes as a mom when it comes to parenting and let A decide which path he wants to take, mine or his dad’s. Teach D to make his decisions even if it seems easier and better that you take it on his behalf because he will have to make up his mind sooner or later. Your efforts will reap the benefits, Anamika. Trust me, he will be all that you want to see in him. Just give it some time.

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  13. Pingback: 3 things I do not miss about India #MondayMusings – the bespectacled mother

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