Parenting is bloody difficult!
There I said it as there is simply no other way of expressing the frustration I feel some times. As an individual I like people to be honest with me. My biggest personal challenge is that I don’t forgive easily which makes forgetting and moving on difficult. With my child’s upbringing I had promised myself that no matter how difficult I would not lie to her.
Therefore when we converse I enjoy the process of allowing her to be an equal partner in the conversation. It’s amazing to hear her explanations and justifications; they’re not only funny but portray how she sees herself. Also on numerous occasions, while playing with her teddy bears I’ve heard her repeat verbatim things I’ve told her!
Some years ago I found myself in an uncomfortable situation where the parents of a two year old kept lying to her whenever guests at home were ready to leave. Apparently the child hated goodbyes and would throw a tantrum whenever someone left home. To her, the only acceptable reason to leave home was to go to office. So no matter what time of the day or night, guests or they themselves would use that as an excuse to go out. Or they would take her to another room on some pretext while everyone quietly slipped out of the house. And if the child enquired later she was informed that everyone had gone to the office!
At this point, we were not even planning on having children but I just knew then that I would never want to do that to my child. So after the birth of my daughter, I began to tell her every time we had to go out. I would explain where we were going, why and when we would be back. Most often she didn’t understand but I wanted her to know. Did it make life easier? Sometimes yes, she accepted without a question. At other times, it broke my heart especially if she clung on to me and cried or asked me not to go out. But I stonewalled my feelings and left home leaving her with her nanny. I could hear her howling till the lift door closed and even afterwards it would ring in my ears but I still continued to tell her that I was going out.
Was it the right way? I do want to believe it is. In this day and age when there is so much happening in the world around her, there is much she observes and understands. I don’t want to ever leave her guessing or wondering.
While watching The Lion King the other day, she was strongly moved when Mufasa died protecting Simba. She couldn’t understand what had happened or why but I explained the way Mufasa had earlier about the circle of life and how stars are the yesteryears kings looking down upon us. She’s too young to understand death but perhaps it’s easier to explain it through these concepts rather than telling her that with death someone ceases to exist completely. I felt that at her age, this would be easier for her to understand. So did I lie to her? Or was that just a white lie?
I know that it is easier to make children comply if they fear the unknown. But I try not to instil fear in her by telling her that there are ghosts in the room or a crazy old man is waiting to take her away. Instead I tell her that she won’t be able to have her favourite sweet or watch a cartoon or play with her friends to get her to listen to me.
I just hope that I can continue to talk to her through her different life experiences as she grows up. Even though I’m told that I’m pushing her to understand too many things too early in her life, I’m still glad to do it my way.