What kind of a parent are you?

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body~Elizabeth Stone

Most parents fall into one of 2 categories.

One whose child can do no wrong; The other whose child can do no right (mainly parents of teens). Between these two extremes is category 3, comprising the tiny minority of those who manage to be fair.

I fall into category 1…most of the time.

If I could, I would draw a halo around O’s head and sprinkle it with pink glitter.

I overcompensate probably, because my parents were primarily category 2 and when they were in an indulgent mood, switched to category 3.

I now realise how prejudiced and unreasonable a parent can be.

Every time O comes to me with a complaint, every time she is down or sad, I am ready to gather arms and wage war. So much so, there are times when she begins her school stories with: “I’ll tell you something, but don’t come to school…”

Like a few days ago when she came home in tears, because a 9-year-old boy called her a “bloody f**K” because his sister and O had an exchange on the school bus, while returning home.

I was livid. How the hell can a child show so much aggression. I am sure he had no clue what it meant, but it was bully-attitude all the same. (Since I was too wound up, it was R who had a word with the boy the next day. He asked me not to talk to O at all, if he can’t be polite and that the next time around he would march him up to the headmaster. )

The thing is, when she tells me her sad stuff — teary-eyed, trembling lips and shaking voice — it’s like someone is twisting my gut into a knot. Reasoning takes a hike, objectivity is washed away by her readily flowing tears. That’s not the worst of it — it’s when she is trying to be brave, non-teary and matter-of-fact, that I really want to sob.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like she is a spoilt brat because I am blind to her faults. Not at all. I am aware of how she can wrap me around her little finger and play me…

O is a bit of drama queen, but she is also very well-behaved — most people who know her will attest that. She is not the kind who throws tantrums, screams or yells, or speaks disrespectfully to elders. She knows the magic words and uses them — Sorry, Please, Thank You. And on the rare occasions that she doesn’t fall in line, she gets a earful. If anything, R & I are quite strict with her — because all around we see children out of control.

But O is not above teasing and ganging up or throwing a bad word in either… It’s not that I do not have a measure of my daughter. I do. However, when she is at the receiving end, or when the parents turn a blind eye, I am ready to scream.

Till some 3-4 years ago, we were category 3 parents. Then after a play date, O (aged 4+) asked me why I was nicer to other children, and that how come other parents never disciplined their kids. The conversation we started that day, is still on… Variations of that question are thrown at me everyday.

Some are easy to answer.

“Why can she watch Hannah Montana and why can’t I?”

“Because each parent decides what’s best for their child.”

However, some questions stump me.

“How come she is never scolded when she is being mean or rude to me, but I am always asked to behave well?”

The second part of the question I can answer; but I have nothing to say about the first.

Since I am rather needy and seeking reaffirmation as a parent, I like being category 1. Makes life good with O — most of the time.

But as she grows older, I’ll have to be careful about moving from 1 to 3, and not run headlong into 2.

ETA: Realised I was being unfair to my folks. They were just really worried with 4 daughters, I guess. They wanted us to be independent and well-placed. And also wanted to please the extended family and friends’ circle, so never took our side in a conflict. However, now, they are category 1 parents and grandparents. They are more relaxed 🙂

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17 thoughts on “What kind of a parent are you?

  1. Indian Homemaker says:

    I like to think that I am a fair parent 🙂 …but out of these three I am also borderline Type 1. Your reactions and how you feel brought tears in my eyes, I feel exactly like that.
    //The thing is, when she tells me her sad stuff — teary-eyed, trembling lips and shaking voice — it’s like someone is twisting my gut into a knot… and
    That’s not the worst of it — it’s when she is trying to be brave, non-teary and matter-of-fact, that I really want to sob.//

    I feel sensitive, concerned parents have happy, well adjusted kids. Most parents who defend their children when they are wrong are taking short cuts, if they truly cared they’d see through aggression or attention seeking violence and deal with the problem.

  2. shyam says:

    I’m not a parent and therefore unqualified to comment on this post. Not letting it stop me, though! 🙂

    I do understand that the first instinct of parents is to defend their child, even if said child’s misbehaved. But I would like to think that caring, intelligent, decent parents would look into why their child was in the wrong, and what went wrong – and not shy away from meting out punishment despite that. The lesson for the child should be to NOT misbehave… and the lesson for the parents is to see that such circumstances do not occur, to the best of their ability.

    If a child sees that its parents defend it even when it’s in the wrong, what does that teach it about its behaviour – and THEIR behaviour? Especially if the child is also aware of its wrongdoing?

    I have a question for you (and any other parents who care to reply) – suppose your child committed a terrible crime (say, murder) and you came to know about it first, would you hide or destroy any evidence to protect your child’s freedom?

    • UmmON says:

      that’s such a scary thought. one can only hope the kids are brought up well enough not to become a murderer or drug runner or something…
      to answer your question: the crime will eventually catch up on him/her. and i cannot bear the thought of my child being on the run from the law, or committing more crimes to cover the old. i will do everything i can to protect them. but will i help them run or absolve them of their resp? i don’t think so.
      but you’d never know right? who is to tell how we’d react for real…

      • shyam says:

        Yeahh… you never know. I just wondered what reasonable parents would do in that situation. There was a news item a few months back about a father who gave up his son to the cops when he found out that his addict son had beaten up a guy in a drug-induced rage and basically turned him into a comatose vegetable. (He died later.) It was an unprovoked attack, apparently.

        There were a few comments applauding the father’s action, but so MANY more reviling him for being a bad parent (!!!) because he “betrayed” his son. I couldn’t understand that attitude, nor that of parents who said they loved their children so much they would “never betray them no matter what they did”.

        I think the father was an amazingly brave man to think about the agony of the victim’s parents, even knowing that his son could be in prison for life.

        • UmmON says:

          what did they want the father to do? help his son be a fugitive? scary. obviously, the father is a decent man, and yet son turned out to be who he is… what guarantee then, be it nurture or nature!

  3. sindhu says:

    I too was category 2, but like you, had to shift and am on 3, hopefully…
    Recently my younger one was scolded by a neighbour for no fault of hers…I would usually think it would be her fault, but this time from her explanations I figured she had done nothing wrong. So went up to the neighbour and told her that if my daughter has done anything wrong, I have the right to scold her, tell me, I will take care of it. But please I don’t like anyone else scolding her…
    I think she understood me and said she would take care.

  4. B o o. says:

    Hmmm… a heavily loaded post. At the age of 3, Ashu asked me “How come i ve to share my toys when kids come to our home? And share when I go to their houses too? But some of them never share with me”. I told her to be nice. The other kids will learn from their parents. But theres never an end to all this because I remember very clearly I asked a similar question to my dad at the grand old age of 20 – “How come S’s father lets her bring her guy friends home and you would nt even let me talk to boys on the phone?” Im mostly 1 and 3. I think every parent has to be a little bit of 1 too. If not parents, then who else? On that note, my parents were/are ONE. Caps intended!! 😉

    • UmmON says:

      i have a rule with O will not compare her to other kids, if she won’t compare us to other parents 🙂 so works quite often.
      my parents were so keen on us being ‘well behaved’ they came down hard on us. in many ways, i am happy they were they way they were then, helped me in many ways.

  5. Nadira says:

    Definitely a category 1 parent.. and i can totally identify with the “someone twisting my gut into a knot” statement… I feel like that very often with K1, and now that K2 is going out into the world I have these panic attacks over “What if….” Nothing has happened yet in K2’s life but still WHAT IF???? And my kids are the only reason I go out there guns blazing :)If it were me, people generally get away with a lot.. but not with my kids. NO ONE hurts THEM!!!

  6. Anjali says:

    I agree with Uttara! Parents can be fair, but aunts (and I am one) should perhaps come under category 1.

    I do think that parents need to watch out for any signs of bullying that their kid might be facing.

  7. UmmON says:

    @nadira: yeah, kids make a lion(ess) out of a…hmm…gazelle? 🙂
    @uttara/anjali: oh yes. you need those blind-to-the-faults, pamper-rotten folks around. O has a bunch of uncles and aunts who do that. grandparents are too scared of the parents 🙂

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