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Being a Spouse and Being a Parent?

Getting married is more of an association with natural selection as the core rather than a domineering event without which the earth could stop spinning. No? Take a plunge into how natural this selection is and how it modifies over time and phases of tying the nuptial, honeymoon and so on!

But hold that thought and park it somewhere far and let’s rewind the thought wheel and get back to the decision and the basis of the decision to get married. Physical splendor to start with, secure future, earning potential, manners, etiquettes, honesty, empathy, social status, family background are the highlights topping the checklist when qualifying a spouse. (Yes, we can keep the love angle away from this discussion)

We mature with age, priorities coupled with circumstances and their outcomes manipulate our decision making and the strategy. The above-mentioned attributes considered while conspiring a successful marriage are expected to translate into a formula capable enough to make us good parents. Ultimately, once you become parents the scopes of attention shifts from everything else to the children, their health, future & survival. Children sense all the actions around them and immediately create a prototype of a certain action and relate to that prototype every time they are encountered with a similar situation. Senses attached to memory are perceptions. These perceptions are the basis of thought formation in a child’s mind and ultimately decision making. A truculent parent at home may end up as the only perception of a parent in the mind of the child. He or She may relate to parent as someone who is volatile, baleful and antsy. Such perceptions will only add distance to the journey of being a good parent.

Now, when something is this important in life, one is bound to feel the pressure because the emotional connect elicits activation and usage of best abilities of a man and a woman.

While raising a family, children consume maximum focus and energy and there is a habit formation amongst the parents to take the lead when it comes to teaching kids good habits, playing games, hygiene, social etiquette. The reason for this lead is segregated as follows:

· Natural instincts

· Child’s achievements reflects on grading of parents

· Parents joining the race of ‘producing’ a winner

This habit and exercise of guiding kids ends up circling many loops over the period of childhood, adolescence and teenage lasting for a minimum of 16 years.

Now, this gets even more interesting!!!!!

The leads were taken, habits formed and repeated for many years but with parents in their middle ages and children in their teens, there is an imminent shift of power. The backed up by hormones, aggression, youth and the undying hunger of taking the charge. (Does this “charge” ring a bell?). The shift in balance of power warrants actual handover of control system of an individual from the creators to the actual individual itself.

Everything else was prepared for, trained, learnt but nowhere in our life we are taught about “letting go”! This is one part of the life, that one stage which exposes us to speculation, over reaction, over reach, as we all know that old habits die-hard. Lets understand how does this actually happen? The children are confronted with day-to-day challenges like the choice of college, subjects, clothing, and relationships. They are willing to handle all these topics on their own by virtue of the hormones racing through the veins but without any experience or prior lessons. Riding high on the control button, parents don’t want to let the kids repeat the mistakes they made in their times and avoid reinventing the wheel.

So by this stage, there are two teams in the household, one growing old with every passing day and the other getting younger by the minute. The conflict actually looks like an eye without bipolar cells, which are responsible for marking edges of an object to signal the brain about the actual boundaries of the object and exact shape. The object and background in this conflict are merged and without any specific boundaries, hence not clearly identifiable and fear of unknown builds stronger and stronger. The pressure and fear are not the best things to have around but the worst is yet to be talked about, the outcomes. These factors make for the best possible breeding ground for negativity, which is not just contagious but deep-rooted too. The negativity leads to aggression corrupting the thought process and gives way to parents starting to throw their weight around and interfering in the decision making process of the children. It is very difficult to pinpoint the right from wrong, but there is definitely an overlap, which is not conducive for healthy progress in the blue print of children’s’ future.

Some questions need to be confronted to put things into a deeper perspective.

· Parents have a life and million other topics in life, at work, with friends, health, finance etc. so this is not the only thing they are dealing with.

· Children have their most attractive portion of the world away from home at college, sports parks, food outlets, friends places, car drives, working out, relationships etc.

· What happens if the conflict changes positions away from home to the respective places of interests of both the teams?

The conclusion to this episode that is not holistic but a brave attempt to begin to ponder and create a plan to walk the talk. One approach we must loathe as a parent, we should not expect our children to be one thing with us at home and something else for the outside world. It is no machinery with a switch to turn on one of various modes available as demanded by the situation. Between children and parents the one thing common is the DNA, but the exposure to the environment is completely different and so is the response mechanism to these exposures. It all boils down to the following;

1. Both parents and children must stop to see these transactions of decision making with the lens of win or lose.

2. The communication channels must be kept open and the onus of that remains on the parents more than the children.

3. Continuous efforts must be made to engage in building trust leading up to creating family values which are more like a family motto, binding the bond to keep misinformation, gaps and negativity at bay.

Comments welcome for a discussion or a perspective.

Yogesh Misra

The Career Curve