“ The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence”.- Denis Waitley
I believe that being friends with your kids contributes to a healthy family environment. Gone are the days when discipline could be used as a tool to control and enforce them to tread the paths that we dream of. I strongly feel that instilling fear is never the key. Parents should adapt to the changing times, accept their kids as individuals who have dreams and aspirations of their own and give them the necessary guidance and encouragement to fly instead of holding them back. They are the ones their kids should confide in or run to when they find themselves in turbulent waters. Parents should have a wider approach to life and realize that technology has made the world a smaller place than we think it is and dangerous too. Such times call for friendship that commands respect and an everlasting support. A child brought up by parents who are his/her friends, who trust him/her, who has taught him/her to learn from his/her mistakes and above all who stands by him/her will grow up into a successful, happy, independent human being who will rarely go astray.
An unfortunate incident that occurred few years back and the consequent conversation I had with a dentist boss of mine helped me realise the importance of ‘buddy parenting’ in shaping a healthier and happier tomorrow for our future generations to come.
My father was posted in Chennai during the first three years of my college life. So he had arranged for me to intern at a Dental Clinic in Chennai right after my second-year university exams. Since it was near our house I used to walk home every day after work. The lane was usually crowded during office and lunch hours but deserted otherwise. One day while walking home there was an exhibitionist calling out and flashing on the other side of the lane. I got so scared that I started running and stopped only when I reached the familiar walls of my colony.
The dentist I worked with was a happy, fun- loving person who never had any bossy air around him. He made the working atmosphere completely relaxed and enjoyable. So he had caught my occasional drifting off and on rather too soon.
“Is there anything wrong, Shruti?”, he asked me while I was pouring the cast.
“Nothing doc, is it okay if I go home at 1 instead of 2 from now on?”, I asked back refusing to meet his eyes. I didn’t know how to explain or rather what to, because I found it embarrassing and scary at the same time.
“Yeah sure, but what happened? I would like to know, I insist”, he replied sensing the uneasiness evident from my actions.
“Well doc, while walking home yesterday, there was this guy who was showing me things I shouldn’t see. I got scared and started running”, I told him finally being able to look up to his concerned face which was slowly starting to smile. It did have a soothing effect on me since I was too scared to even discuss such things with my dad.
“Now, you are a brave girl aren’t you? Never be scared when you come across such mentally ill people in life, and come across you will, because this world isn’t an easy place to live in. Always remember, they are more scared than you really are, they are cowards. You just have to shout out loud or keep your brave face on and continue walking. Never show them your fear, Shruti, and they will never harm you”, he said with the affection of a loving dad and further added with a smile saying, “if you have a boy friend he isn’t doing a good job and if not, you are a doctor and such neurotic specimns should never worry you”.
“And yes, you can go home early from now on”, saying that he got back to work.
On my last day of work, I went up to him to thank him for all that he did. For the experience gained and for those little pep talks of his.
“Shruti, learn to confide in your parents, they can be strict or unapproachable at times but once you cross that barrier your life will be safer and happier. They will never guide you through wrong paths and will always take care of you no matter how many times you may fall”, he advised.
“I will try doc”, I replied, a smile of gratitude adorning my face.
“My daughter is in her kindergarten, when she grows up, I will never be the one she fears, instead I will be the one preparing her for her future life. I will never shy away from educating her about facts she needs to know nor will I stop her from living her life. If I am able to walk with her as her friend imparting values and principles I consider necessary and not try to limit her abilities and prevent her from experiencing the bliss of life then and only then will I consider myself a successful parent”, his parting words still echoes in my ears and when I become a mother I know for sure the kind of mother I will be!