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3 Parenting Lessons From My Mother-in-Law


Myrah at the Early Years Learning Centre

 No one is born equipped with parenting skills. We pick them up as our children grow up and sometimes it helps when there’s someone to help you out – someone who’s been there and done that (even if you generally don’t like being told what to do!). Here are three things I have learnt from my mom-in-law. Maybe they’ll work for you as well.

Tip 1: Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down:

                       I was one of those moms who believed that children should be disciplined and learn to do what they have to do – no bribing them with incentives. But when my daughter had malaria, and cried to take her medicines and also cried after every injection and drip (and there were a lot of them), my MIL suggested sweetening the medicine with honey and also promising her a chocolate after every prick. And sure enough, the medicine slid down easily and the tears dried up quickly. And now, this same technique works on another level as well.

                         When I need to reprimand Netra for something, I don’t merely scold her and leave it at that. I explain to her why what she did was so wrong and ask her whether she will avoid repeating the mistake in the future. Of course, she does exactly the same thing two days later, but at least she listens when I explain and is sorry, rather than sticking her ears back and being obstinate about it!

Tip 2: Look here, look there, look everywhere:

                              When Netra gets it into her head to do something she should not be doing (spitting on the floor, hitting someone, jumping up and down on the sofa – anything potentially harmful or disgustingly dirty) I shout myself hoarse saying “Don’t do that, don’t do that, DON’T DO THAT”. I may as well be talking to a brick wall for all the difference it makes. My MIL will instead quietly point out something interesting, or ask her a question that she needs to think about and answer, and a few seconds later, all thoughts of destruction forgotten, Netra will be happily occupied in long-winded explanations of why ‘Cat in the Hat’ is her favourite book.

                     By the way, this works equally well when your child is having a crying fit or is throwing a tantrum – instead of begging or threatening her to stop, completely ignore her behaviour and start talking to her about something that she finds very interesting and she will start responding to you!

Tip 3: Let her be!:

                          Do you stress that your child will fall sick if she gets wet, will have rotten teeth if she eats chocolate, will lose weight if she misses a meal, will be cranky if she misses her afternoon nap? Can a Swiss clock-maker set the time according to your child’s routine? I have to answer yes on all counts. While schedules and discipline are necessary and beneficial in the long run, my MIL taught me that sometimes it is okay to let go. So when Netra goes to her grandmother’s home for her holidays, she will gorge on sweets and banana chips, she will water herself when watering the garden and she will wake up and sleep at unearthly hours. It does not harm her health and she is the happier for it. So I suppose, sometimes it is okay to allow children to be, well, children! I’m sure each one of you is given a number of tips and tricks to follow.

                          While everything may not be relevant to your lifestyle or mat even be contrary to your beliefs, I think the important thing is to keep an open mind and try them out. If they don’t work, at least you’ve proved that they don’t, if they do – all the better for you. It’s a win-win situation, wouldn’t you say? I, for one, am striving to listen to, appreciate and respect what my mom-in-law tells me. After all, she brought up my husband and he turned out great!

Also Read : How to learn from your Children

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Kritika Srinivasan is an Editor at ParentEdge. She has her hands full with an active young child and her writing. She is keenly interested in ways to engage and stimulate children to keep their lively and intelligent minds busy.


One thought on “3 Parenting Lessons From My Mother-in-Law

  1. Aparajita Bose

    Kritika,
    how wonderful that my m-i-l (is no more now) too had told me much of this during our conversations in the past when I went almost crazy listening to complaints about my very, very naughty,hyperactive son from different quarters when I was a working woman! She even gave me some practical tips (even things like what exactly I should do if such and such happened….) because she could see my son behaving in a manner very similar to how her son (my husband) behaved in certain situations decades back!
    The only thing is – She had loads of patience (for her son and later for my son, too), which was worth emulating, sometimes difficult to practice though!
    I loved your blog!

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