With the arrival of a baby, comes new roles and responsibilities not just for the parents but for other members of the family too. Everyone has their own way of showing love and affection. Everyone has a different style of pampering. Each member will want to express himself/herself in his or her own way. In the midst of it all, the one factor that remains constant is the baby. And hence it becomes important for everyone to be on the same ground.
As much as we would like to believe, the arrival of a baby and parenthood is not all fun. There are things to learn and challenges to overcome. While the first year has its own challenges, it’s the terrible twos, the terrifying threes and the frightening fours that test you and define you as a family.
People often talk about setting the expectations with the kids. But what about setting expectations as a family?
It is often the most ignored topic in a house. I often hear parents say “But we can’t expect them to alter their lifestyle” or “How can we ask them to change, it is our baby” or “They are old, expecting them to change now is not right”, etc etc.
Here, I beg to differ. Though I do not disregard all of the above and don’t expect people to change their way of life, I do believe that there is always some middle ground to be found. It doesn’t always have to be our way or no way.
Honest, straight-forward communication is essential. Even before our son was born, there were certain expectations that we as a family has agreed upon. These basic expectations were from us to our families and from our families to us.
Before I go ahead, let me make one thing very clear. Rehaan is not a deprived child and neither are we control freaks. We have chosen to give him a clean and healthy start.
- NO JUNK – Absolutely no junk which includes chips, chocolates, toffees, ice-creams, cakes, candies, lollies, aerated drinks, deep fried, street food, etc for the first two years and thereafter as long as we can. No artificial sugar till two. I add organic jaggery to his food. Glad to report that Rey doesn’t know a chocolate from a wafer chip. Even when he is handed a toffee, he gives it away because he doesn’t know what it is.
- DONT GIVE IN TO DEMANDS OR TANTRUMS – Children test you, they will try to manipulate you into giving in to their demands by throwing tantrums. Hold your ground. When the child sees one person in the house caving in, he will invariably go back for more. AND he will want the same expectation from you. If you refuse, you often become the villain. The key here is to maintain the same stance as a family. Mutual understanding in the family is a must to avoid setting an unwanted trend.
- NO SCREENS – Children see, children do. They will never ask you or others for something they don’t see you and anyone else doing. I openly discourage anyone from showing him their phone. Click here to read more on my journey to raising a toddler screen-free.
- NO CONFLICTS in front of the baby – Yes, this one is a little difficult to live in real life. Even healthy decisions when discussed animatedly can sound like an argument to a toddler especially if he is still trying to grasp languages. We have been making a conscious effort of watching our tone when our son is around. We move to a different room when a situation arises.
- Informed DECISIONS vs. age old MYTHS – This one is my favourite and where I am challenged the most. And I don’t mean at home. I mean anywhere there is a generation gap. “We have also raised kids. We raised you guys. Did you not turn out fine?” Phew!! My only argument (when I do make one, most of the times I ignore them and their ignorance) is that its not the same world we are living in, not the same air we breathe, not the same food (chemical-free/unadulterated) we eat. So why the same way of upbringing? A common cold that used to take 2 to 3 days to recover from, now takes weeks, thanks to the pollution and quality of life. Also, technology has grown by leaps and bounds to provide deep insight. It’s not guesswork any longer.
Thankfully, my immediate family is not so difficult to reason with and have accepted and respect the choices we are making. It may or may not work, but it is definitely worth a try. Isn’t it?
What have your challenges been? How have you overcome them as a family?