Transforming Relations Part 12


Transforming Relations

A Journey from Autumn to Spring – The Secrets of Blissful Living

7th Chapter – Parenting – 1st Part


There are different parenting styles which parents use to discipline their children. Four types have been identified: 1. Authoritative parents, 2. Authoritarian parents, 3. Indulgent parents, 4. Indifferent parents.

  1. Authoritative Parents are parents who use warmth, firm control, and rational, issue-oriented discipline, in which emphasis is placed on the development of self-direction. An authoritative parent has clear expectations and consequences and is affectionate toward his or her child. The authoritative parent allows for flexibility and collaborative problem solving with the child when dealing with behavioral challenges. This is the most effective form of parenting. They place a high value on the development of autonomy and self-direction but assume the ultimate responsibility for their child’s behavior. “You live under my roof, you follow my rules!” is a cliche that parents may often find themselves speaking—and it probably most closely mimics theauthoritative parenting style.
  2. Authoritarian Parents are parents who use punitive, absolute, and forceful discipline, and who place a premium on obedience and conformity. Parents exhibit good emotional understanding and control; children also learn to manage their own emotions and learn to understand others as well. These parents believe it is their responsibility to provide for their children and that their children have no right to tell the parent how best to do this. Adults are expected to know from experience what is really in the child’s best interest and so adult views are allowed to take precedence over child desires. Children are perceived to know what they want but not necessarily what is best for them. An authoritarian parent has clear expectations and consequences, but shows little affection toward his or her child. The parent may say things like, “because I’m the Mommy/Papa, that’s why.” This is a less effective form of parenting.
  3. Indulgent Parents are parents who are characterized by responsiveness but low demanding, and who are mainly concerned with the child’s happiness. They behave in an accepting, benign, and somewhat more passive way in matters of discipline.
  4. Indifferent Parents are parents who are characterized by low levels of both responsiveness and demanding. They try to do whatever is necessary to minimize the time and energy they must devote to interacting with their child. In extreme cases, indifferent parents may be neglectful. They ask very little of their children.

For instance, they rarely assign their children chores. They tend to be relatively uninvolved in their children’s lives. It’s not that they don’t love their children. It’s just that they believe their children should live their own lives, as free of parental control as possible.

Talking With Kids

Communicating With Children

  • Pleasant eye contact (a wink, a twinkle in the eye says “you are special”.
  • Physical affection (a hug, a back rub, a pat on the shoulder)
  • Time alone that says “You’re the only person who matters right now.”
  • Positive comments (“I like that about you”, “thanks for being so helpful.)

Add these words to your vocabulary:

  • “I was wrong”.
  • “Please forgive me.”
  • “I love you.”
  • “Tell me more”
  • “I appreciate”
  • “Thank you”
  • “I’m sorry.”

Explain things without belittling others.

  • Avoid saying anything negative – until you understand.
  • Ask, “How can I help?”
  • Try to avoid solving another’s problems for them.

Free yourself from thinking that:

  • Winning
  • Being right
  • Being in control …are the only outcomes to disagreements. In a loving relationship, if someone wins, both lose. Work instead towards adjusting and cooperating with each other.
  • Instead of always saying “You must… sometimes say it would be better if…”
  • Listen, listen, and listen some more!
  • Talk with Your Kids about the things that matter most

Helping Your Family to…

  • Follow the rules; no yelling, name calling, violence.
  • I statements work best: “I feel____because____.”
  • Give the other person a say, too (without interrupting).
  • Hear his or her point of view – really think about it!
  • Take a few minutes to brainstorm solutions together.
  • Figure out a plan you can agree on.
  • Act on your plan. Put it to work for you.
  • Imagine peace at home – let it begin with you.
  • Respect differences – they are the spice of life.

Hold your child to the original agreement you made with them!

Ways to Discipline Children

It’s hard to deny the importance of discipline. “Discipline has to do with civilizing your child so they can live in society”. Yet kids repeatedly test their parents’ limits. When it comes to disciplining children, there is no quick fix and no magic bullet.

Reward Good Behavior

When punishment is the centerpiece of discipline, parents tend to overlook their children’s best behaviors. “You’ll able to go a lot further with positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement,” Rewarding good deeds targets behaviors you want to develop in your child, not things he shouldn’t be doing. This doesn’t mean you should give your child a pound of chocolate every time he picks up a paper-clip. “There are grades of positive reinforcement”. “There’s saying ‘good job. I’m really glad you did that,’ when your child cleans his room.” And there are times when your child does something extraordinary that may warrant a larger reward.

Be Clear About Rules

If your rules are vague, or discussed only when one has been broken, your child will have a hard time following them. “It’s up to the parent to make clear what’s expected of the child and what isn’t,” Be sure to explain the rules of the house when you can speak clearly and your child is not too upset to listen.

For instance, when you have 30 minutes to spare, interrupt your child’s game and tell him/her you need help with something. If he/she helps, great, do a quick and easy chore together and let him/her go back to her game. If he/she throws a tantrum, you have time to deal with it. “If you do that every once in a while, your child will understand that when Mommy says I need to put my toys away, I need to do it.”

Neutralize Arguments

How do you deal with a child who wants to argue into submission?

Steer clear of no-win arguments. For instance, if your child says, “This isn’t fair,” say, “I know.” If your child says, “All of my friends get to have this,” say, “I know.” Or you can use the phrase, “And what did I say?” to enforce rules you have already discussed with your child. Sometimes the less you say, the more clear your point becomes.

Buy Yourself Time

You may have read that children need to experience the consequences of their actions as soon as possible. And maybe you’ve heard that parents should be calm as they discipline children. In reality, you may not be able to keep your cool and react right away. “Buy yourself time to calm down before you deal with the situation.” You can tell your child, “Wow, bad decision. I need some time to figure out what I’m going to do about that.” When your emotions are in check, express empathy for your child first, and then deliver the consequences. Empathy gives your child room to connect his behavior to the outcome. “You don’t have to get angry at kids, you don’t have to yell. Just allow it to become their problem.”

Be Consistent About Rules

Sometimes sticking to the rules is as challenging for parents as it is for kids. Many parents turn the other cheek when their kids talk back or otherwise act out. “Parents just are not consistent in enforcing rules. Not enforcing your own rules puts everything you say into question. “If kids don’t know what to expect from their parents, they never really know what the rules are.” You may want to back down for fear of ruining your child’s fun. Keep in mind that kids benefit from limits. Rules and structure give children the security of knowing their parents are watching out for them. As kids get older, you can take a more flexible approach.

Around the ages of 9 and 12, kids should get “a little leeway to test out the rules,” “But always be very careful about safety.”

Model Good Behavior

Like it or not, your children are watching you. You can dole out as much advice as you want, but your personal conduct makes a morelasting impression than your words. “The number one way human beings learn is through imitation and copy,” says Fay. If you want your child to be honest, make sure you practice honesty. If you want your child to be polite, let him/her see your best manners, at home and in public.

My Son Does Not Listen To Me

A Canadian friend of Dr. Gurbakhsh Singh came to pick him up from the Buffalo (New York, USA) airport. He was to attend a youth camp in Toronto. In the car, they talked about the Sikh youth and felt concerned that many of them are not interested to know their faith and their great heritage. Both of them agreed that many youth do not care to listen to their parents. When they reached home, he asked his son to tell his mother to prepare tea for them. Soon, the son came to the living room with a tray containing tea and biscuits. When he presented the tea to him, the father complained, “Baba Jee! He does not listen to me. Please tell him that it is good to be obedient to his parents.”

He thought it advisable not to say anything against the youth particularly when he was offering tea to him. He picked up cup of tea, thought for a minute and responded, “You should be thankful to God, Who has given you an obedient son. He came immediately without your asking and offered us water. Further, as told by you, he approached his mom; got tea prepared by her and brought it to us. What else do you expect from him?”

The boy was obviously pleased after listening to comments. While sipping tea, he continued, “Sonny, it is OK if you do not listen to your dad. He also does not listen to his ‘FATHER’. ‘OUR FATHER’, the Guru, says that a Sikh should recite Gurbani Nitnem regularly. Your father does not do that. Last time when I visited your home, he went on talking and talking meaninglessly with his friends. I had to go out in the cold to recite Rehraas. Listen to him only when he listens to his ‘FATHER’ and starts reciting Gurbani regularly.”

On next visit to their house, the same ritual of tea was repeated. When the son was offering tea, his father again complained, “Now I recite Gurbani, but still he (son) does not listen to me.” Before anyone could say anything, his son smiled and responded immediately, “Baba Jee! Daddy does not recite Gurbani. He only pretends to do so just to show off to me, so that I listen to him.” The father immediately responded, “He sure is right. I just go through the ritual to show him that I recite Gurbani.” Everything was said in a light mood and we smiled at the comment of the boy. The message was very clearly understood by the father and he started reading Gurbani with devotion and love, to obtain guidance from it.

The next time they met, the father had a long list of issues to discuss with him regarding the message of different hymns of Gurbani. When they were discussing Gurbani hymns, his son came and asked, “Daddy, my friend has invited me to join him for playing football. May I go there?” The father agreed, saying, “It is OK, be back by dinner time. Don’t keep us waiting.” The son after saying, “Thank you, I will be back before dinner,” was putting on his shoes, and the father continued, “You were right. My son has changed a lot. He is, now, even more obedient and more respectful to me than I was to my father. He shares everything with me and keeps no secrets from me. I feel really proud of him. Reciting Gurbani with devotion has proved to be the miracle.”

A few months later, the son started keeping long hair and tying a turban on his own. When next year they met at their common friend’s house, they were really happy. He congratulated the boy for keeping a turban His father observed, “Thank you for encouraging him.”

If we listen to the youth, they reward us by being obedient to us. They are very sensitive to any criticism. If parents become friends with their children, they can guide them better and save them from the wrong path.

Your Son Is Watching You

Most parents believe they are doing their best to help their children grow into respectable members of society. However, the children have different stories to tell. Many social scientists have written books on this topic but here are some experiences of Dr. Gurbakhsh Singh being given in the hope this information will lead to a better understanding between parents and their children.

At a camp in USA, a trainee surprised us with his outburst; “I am here not to learn Sakhies.”  He was in the 10-13 years age-group. Every student was supposed to narrate in the class at least one of the Sakhies learnt by them at the camp. The boy had an above-average IQ, but he did not volunteer to tell any Sakhi taught. When the class was over, to help him choose a Sakhi, Dr Gurbakhsh Singh asked, “Which of the Sikh martyrs thrilled you most? Have you chosen any Sakhi?” He could not care less, and responded in a casual way, “My parents are doctors. They have gone to Florida on a pleasure trip. Taking me with them would have been inconvenient to them and it would have cost them a lot. It was a cheaper alternative to put me in this camp. Here you provide me board and lodging and do babysitting also for me for a nominal fee; I am here for this purpose and not to learn or do anything else at the camp.” After unloading the hidden pressure on his mind, he departed leaving organizers immersed in a sea of reflections.

At another camp in Dallas, Texas, a Sikh opened the door a little, peeped inside, looked at the class and left. When the class was over, another trainee from a junior group gave a package to one of students saying, “Your father told me to hand it over to you.” Another student, who knew what this packet was, said in a loud voice, “Wow! Such a costly game! Congratulations.” The boy, without showing any sign of pleasure on his face, murmured, “He (the father) wants to buy my love with money. He has no time for me.” His tone reflected his hurt feelings, far from any happiness over the gift.

It is clear that unless we spare time regularly for our children, sit with them, express mutual love and have informal chats to develop closer ties with them, we may lose them.

Few people follow the WILL of GOD. Those who respect HIS WILL experience peace, while others suffer worries.

(Continued in next month’s issue)