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Bringing up kids – Do we need a ‘Mary Poppins’ in our families?

Mary Poppins was the ‘practically perfect’ nanny, who flew in to the lives of the Banks family. She is the magic that gave the family a slight nudge to correct their life’s direction. No, they were not evil or cruel or irresponsible parents. Mr. and Mrs. Banks were very loving parents, and wanted the best for their children and they did try to make sure they got the best. And despite this, we find that the family is a bit disconnected. This is exactly what happens in most of our families today. We, as parents, do want the best for our children, however, are not able to prioritize our role as parents or are, sometimes, just clueless!

We live complicated lives with lots of challenges. We work in the most stressful places, we have houses to run, and we have so many different roles to play. We spend a good deal of time to get ourselves equipped to fit in to many of these roles. We are educated people and value our education. We spend almost 14 years in school and 5 or more years in college. Some even more. No, I’m not going to go on about how rotten our education system is. That’s for another day. And anyway, we, coming from this system did not turn out so bad.

So, coming back to our 20 odd years of education and a few years of toddlerhood before that. We learn and become proficient in various streams during this time, readying us for the real world, they say. And the real world being our jobs, our careers, our businesses: things that give direction to our lives. Yes, just a direction to our lives. We don’t learn much in our schools that help us LIVE our lives. Life is mostly made up of people around us, our relationship with them and the relationship we have with ourselves. And yet, we hardly get any training on that.

I cannot really find a compelling enough way to emphasize on how important bringing up our children the right way is, as this is what is going to make them adults who are confident, loving and understanding.

Children look up to us. They learn anything and everything from us. They are ever so observant, constantly learning from us. Be their role model. Be what you want them to be.

As parents, we must be clear and consistent. They must know and understand the do’s and don’ts and the reason why they are so. Explain to them the rules and why they are important.

Now parenting styles. There’s a whole lot of literature available on this one. But what I am going to tell you is just this little thing: each little word you say to that little angel of yours, each little action is influencing what they are going to be. Research shows that, one of the primary reasons for low self-esteem in adults is a direct result of dominating and overtly criticizing parenting style. When I asked, how one chooses, somebody very wise once told me this: In a family, even if there are just two kids, each will need a different type of approach. Her explanation was very simple. One may be a dandelion and the other an orchid! Whatever style one chooses, let the kids know they are special and that they are loved.

Getting our children to be independent is important. They have to step out in to the real world soon and might as well get them ready and give them practice for it. They’ll make mistakes but know that, just the fact that you trusted them with it, is going to make a world of difference to them.

And oh, I almost forgot! They are very smart. Don’t let them play you against your spouse. No matter what, take similar stands when it comes to taking decisions about your children. Anything else just sends very confusing signals to the children causing unnecessary distress.

Now one important thing we must keep in mind is that, yes, they are kids but we need to treat them with respect. They must understand how important it is to appreciate others and accept differences with respect. Teach them this and half your job is done. Read this somewhere a while back, “If you have children, remember this: When you finish with them, the rest of the world has to live with them, so please teach them respect”.

We have to do our best because we know that our children deserve the best. And more importantly, because, we know that Mary Poppins is not real and she cannot be hired even if it’s an emergency!

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