In the growing years of a child….. ~ Challenges of Parenting

Should one of the parents stay at home?”
So there was this discussion on a blog forum of blogadda, “It is important for one of the parents to be at home in the growing years of a child”. As a parent, I voiced my opinions in favor of the statement. But then, the topic set me off thinking, “When I grew up, I have seen many kids grow up quite normally even as their parents were working. In fact, I myself know a couple of people who have been exceptionally good at parenting, even as they were working. Then why, today I don’t feel comfortable with the fact that both parents are working their brains off, while their child is still in the process of blossoming?”Of course, children always stand corrected at some time or the other, irrespective of what they learn in their growing years. However, the fact remains, sooner the better. And I have some good reasons for why I shall speak for the topic.
Times have changed
How many of us believe it? When I was a toddler I did not go to any day care or a playgroup. I was main schooled from two and a half years of age. And, I never had trouble in my social life too. My mother would leave me at school with absolute confidence that I would be well taken care by the Sisters of the Carmelite Convent I studied in. The first open school session for us, way back then was a fun fair, where parents were invited to spend a day completely with their children. Although, I have vague memories, my mother sure remembers everything as she recounted how I enjoyed those horse and camel rides, and how I squealed in joy when I, for the first time sat in the merry go round. About 27 years later, I am a parent myself. My son who will soon be two and a half has been going to playschool for about 10 months now. And the first open school session I attended was “I-Care”, a campaign started by Zee Group that speaks about awareness of child abuse of all kinds and on how to protect your child from it. I attended it and I found the session useful, nonetheless. But, it disturbed me. And it disturbed me a lot! It is disheartening to read/know about the various gut wrenching incidents about how innocence is butchered in the times we live. And I sat thinking, were these things happening in our times too? Ignorance is sometimes, a bliss – is the answer I get from the older generation. And it is at these times, I wonder if it were so absolutely necessary for both parents to be working, leaving their priceless gift in the hands of people they just know as caretakers? Answers will vary.
How well do you know your child?
I was startled by the question in the same campaign mentioned above. The question, of course was directed at every parent. Of course, we as mothers had our hands straight up in the air asserting a hundred percent YES on how well we know our kids. But I pondered later, do I really know my son as well as I claim to? For instance, one of the days when my son returned from school, he was in a remorseful mood. Usually he smiles and plays a lot. But that day, which may have been one of his blue days, he was not his usual self. So the alert mother in me awakened and my mind was clogged with questions like “What is wrong with him?”, “Why isn’t he speaking up?”, “He has not even eaten his tiffin! Why?”and so on and so forth. When I tried calling up his playschool, he immediately came running and snatched the phone and said, “Nah! School Na!”  I sure deceived him into believing I wasn’t calling up school but later, after engaging him in watching his favorite channel, Nat Geo, I called up his teacher to clear my doubts. And his class teacher said, “Oh! Yes, today he was at his naughtiest self! Not only was he not listening to us, he coaxed the others in his class as well in doing what he enjoys doing most – playing with sand and throwing it on one another! So, I had to reprimand him in a sterner way than usual.” And, when I later asked my son, he gave me a sly smile and went back to his toys and trucks! I am not the only parent who is beginning to understand that, children today are smart, perhaps smarter than we were at their age, at hiding mischief. Some weeks later, he caught up a viral that leaves a skin rash behind. As he complained about itching in those rashes, I grabbed my chance and explained to him, “This is what happens when you play with sand.” Ever since, he has stopped playing with sand. A friend of mine, whose son is a year senior to my son, says “My son is so totally well behaved in school. But when he is home, he is on a rampage! I do not know what to do.” As toddlers, children imagine a lot too. Sometimes, it is hard to believe what they say, as we have no idea what part of their versions are made up. And needless to say, children have a mind of their own, a personality of their own. They perceive emotions, language and actions in their own way. To understand their thought patterns, one of the parents has to be home in the primal years, so that the parent gets to correct the course of the child’s thought process and bring it right on track.
Train your child.
Studies have shown as to what a tremendous capacity toddlers posses in terms of grasping and learning. Up till the age of five, they are living sponges who absorb everything being said and done around them. Their span of concentration may be less, as they easily get diverted. But, talk about their memory and grasping power, sky be the limit. Which is a good thing as long as their observation and actions are scrutinized. But what about the unwanted things children learn in their growing years? There is a high probability of children picking up a lot of unwanted habits and vocabulary along with the regular academic contents they learn at playschools/pre schools. And it is important for one of the parents to know what and all, a child is learning in his growing years. Because it is these years that will cement the bulwark of his/her character. Train your child to share everything with you. Be the friend, be the teacher, be the sibling and be the tyrant when necessary. Besides, train him to understand the difference between familiar people and strangers. Train him to not accept anything from a stranger. And most importantly, train him to understand the difference between right and wrong. I emphasize on the word ‘train’, because that is how imparting cautions to our children has come down to. We need to prepare our kids with a sound moral health so that they can contribute towards making this world a little more bearable, safer and saner. Which is why; I feel that one of the parents has to stay at home in the growing years of a child.
Career, money, fame and name come and go, and come again. But growing years of a child is a one time affair. Needless to say, the plinth of a character is always laid at home and that too, only in the growing years because…..
What is your take on this debate? Let me know!
P.S: Before people misjudge me thinking I am against parents working altogether and  that they must invest all their time in bringing up their child alone, let me clear the air. I am merely stating that my opinion is only for the time window that caters to the child’s growing years (up to age of 3 or 4, considering this time span to be the most vulnerable age of a child). And people who do manage working round the clock and still managing to bring up their kids impeccably, for them, I take a bow! Respect!
Healthy arguments are welcome as long as the intention is not to prove someone right or wrong.

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