Once upon a time, parenting was a simple phenomenon: Mothers mothered; Fathers fathered. From generations and generations, the human race has been doing this and considering where we have reached now; it seems to be working out pretty well — or not — however, the question of why now arises. In all times, effective parenting has had these primary goals:
- Ensuring children’s health and safety
- Preparing children for life as an independent and productive adults
- Transmitting cultural values.
In Pakistan, there are 14,872 births per day. There is an addition of 1 child every 8 seconds. Pakistan is dominantly a patriarchal society. Parenting in Pakistan is gynarchial, composed of the grandmother, mother, aunts, unmarried daughters, female maids, midwives, neighbors who act as substitute mothers.
Fundamentally, the process of parenting starts when a couple decides to have a child. In our society, parenthood is a privileged place. It is seen as a virtue and symbol of superiority; the idea of childlessness becomes daunting for the newlywed couple.
When a couple decides to enter parenthood, the question of a child’s gender arises. The pressure to give birth to a first male child is immense in our culture. If a child’s gender is not apparent, we sneakingly ask questions to find out by asking for the child’s name. And it that does not work, we start the trend of Snapchat stories of gender discoveries.
If one successfully passes this stage, the concern of being an ideal parent begins. This pressure multiplies, especially for millennial parents. Google is a new grandparent (or the new nanny) for millennial parents. Nowadays, parents know more about child development than ever before. However, it becomes overwhelming. It gets hard for these parents to differentiate between “I want to be right” vs. “ I want to do it right.”
All of this is topped by the idea of raising an ideal child. Every culture has an ideal child, and the idea is so deeply ingrained in the culture that its validity can not be questioned. In western cultures, that ideal is a highly verbal, independent, emotionally controlled, and self-reliant child. In cultures like Pakistan, we train children to be obedient, calm, who maintains respectful demeanor, feels responsible for her/his behavior and avoids, at all costs, dishonorable acts. The dichotomy of an ideal parent and an ideal child becomes the source of stress and unrealistic expectations from themselves.
Stress is part and parcel of the parenting experience. Parenting stress is felt in response to the demands of being a parent that is often experienced as negative feelings toward the self and toward the child or children. It usually arises from the need to balance a child’s needs with your own needs, and societal pressure associated with a long-term investment in the child’s growth and wellbeing. Don’t forget, for the child, you are the world. No one is perfect. It just needs to be a good-enough parent-child relationship. The goal is to promote independence.
Remember: Stress Affects the Parent, Stress Affects the Child!
People often quote an African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The second half of the saying is usually not cited; “…and a community to keep the parents sane.” Establish a support system. Accept the help that is offered. As a parent, just getting an extra 15 minutes in the shower, having a cup of tea, going out for a walk or only spending some time alone, can do wonders to combat stress. Seek the help you need! Don’t just wait around for people to make offers. Hire a maid, look for baby sitters, ask your parents and family. These are a few tips to help yourself:
- Develop a support network
- Leave time for relaxing
- Start a hobby
- Get enough sleep
- Stay organized
- Listen to relaxing music or sound
- Practice relaxation activities
- Delegate jobs to others.
Remember, you are not the first parent on this planet; the help you need is out there.
For further information: http://www.apa.org/topics/parenting/
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in making.. View all posts by ASC