In the perfect world, kids treat each other with kindness, take turns, stand up to bullies and celebrate uniqueness. They also welcome outsiders to join their cliques until they are all one big happy family. Reality paints a different picture: kids fight, argue, make and break friendships, jealousies abound, tears are shed, personalities clash and parents draw battle lines to protect their children. As children begin their process of socializing, parents find that they are thrown into a brand new phase of adult socializing as well - a rite-of-passage they must endure!
‘…our close identification with our children means we can feel every trivial snub and jibe our kids experience all too keenly…’ Dr. Stephen Briers, ‘Playground politics for adults’
Here are some ‘Playground Issues’ you may be facing as a parent:
So. What can you do as a parent to survive playground politics?
Although there are no perfect answers, here are some guidelines that can help:
1. Think about what your child really needs:
Remember that your child will undergo some growing pain as he learns the ropes. This can be very hard to watch, but allowing him to experiencing these trials under your caring protection will equip him with lifelong skills. If you unable to handle a situation or it is getting out of hand, reach out to community resources/ friends/ a counselor for help.
Recent social media campaign #MeToo brought to light some intimate and troubling stories, as well as those with courage and strength. But could sharing these personal anecdotes affect your relationship?
On a good day, parenting looks like a hallmark card, the kids rosy and well fed, smiles and laughter around the table.
On most days, parenting is about dealing with piles of dirty laundry, kids of varying ages vying for attention, getting things stuck up their noses, school boxes to be packed, tears to be wiped, potty to be cleaned and homework to be completed. On the truly bad days, it is a lot of screaming and crying, and people looking disapprovingly and judging on what poor parents we are, and suggesting we should be better at our parenting.
Is 'Parenting' something to do?
We speak of parenting as an activity to be done perfectly, and all on our own, but as the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to bring up a child.’
Parenting was never meant to be a job for just the one or two people responsible for bringing a child into the world. It takes the labour of an entire community to bring up a human being. Without this essential support, parents are left emotionally, physically and mentally drained and the children don't necessarily know how to belong in the community. It was all well and good when people lived in small communities where everyone knew each other and child support was not a special service - everyone pitched in for each other.
In the urban jungle where more and more of us live, and where we don't know who are our neighbours, parenting as a village is something else altogether.
How you can create the village:
With some conscious effort, you don't have to be a stranger in an urban jungle trying to get by. You can make your own village:
If you are dealing with chronic sleeplessness, anxiety and depression or something just doesn’t feel right, talk it out - meet with a doctor, counsellor, or both.
1. Spiritual Parenting by Gopika Kapoor
2. What Do You Really Want for your Children by Wayne W. Dyer
3. Don’t have a village? How to create one.
4. In the absence of a village, mothers suffer most.
5. When the parenting village doesn’t exist.
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.