This blog is the third of a 12-part series on ‘Parenting is a Journey’. Ignatius Fernandez also blogs at http://thechildisfatheroftheman.blogspot.in/.
In the Andes, South America, two tribes occupy opposite locations – one lives on the plains and the other, up in the mountains. Their rivalry is perennial. Once, the tribe from the mountains raided the one in the plains and stole some things and a baby. The best climbers from the plains tried scaling the mountain to get the baby. As they were returning, on their third failed attempt, they saw the mother of the baby on her way down, with the baby strapped to her back. Flustered, they ask her how she did it. Her reply conveyed much on the bonding between mother and baby: “Not your baby”.
Some specialists in child behaviour maintain that children pass through three stages: Stage one, Infancy, the first two years; Stage two, Childhood, 3 to 12; Stage three, Adolescence, 13 to 21. At each stage we have to adapt, anticipating changes in our children.
In stage one (Infancy) the behaviour of the mother sends strong signals of love to the baby when: a) She presses her infant to herself, b) She ensures face to face contact with the baby, c) She speaks to or about the child in a positive way, and d) She promptly responds to the needs of the child. Such actions cement the bond between mother and infant. The tribal woman shows how.
Stage two (Childhood) is the formative period, when children look to us for every need – not just the mother, but the father also. Time spent with them is important; more important than gifts. When we give time and effort, we are giving part of ourselves to our children. Instructions given to them have a huge impact because at this stage most children believe that we can do little or no wrong. Therefore it is important that we shape our inputs to suit each child, because each is different; unique.
In Part 1 of this series, we referred to EXAMPLE and in Part 2 to PARENTAL INSTRUCTIONS, as two important requirements in the Parenting Journey. DISCIPLINE comes next.
The child sometimes rejects the person administering discipline. So disciplining is a risky task. Yet, if we do not discipline, we end up punishing the child. Punishment is what we do to the child; discipline is what we do for the child, as Dr James Dobson reasons in his book, Dare to Discipline. Discipline may involve physical correction. It is the loving purpose (and not the anger) which makes the difference. Children, who have been lovingly disciplined rather than arbitrarily punished, rarely look back in anger to the times they received physical correction, from loving parents. Somehow they get the message that limits have to be set. And, they do not flinch from disciplining their own children when it is their turn. “—for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline?” Heb: 12-7