Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to raise a happy and safe child in Sri Lanka - 1

Recently one of my truly Sri Lankan aunts asked me how to help her niece with her baby. After listening to her long explanation on how the niece refuses her help and how she think the niece should have listen to her advice, and how she thinks that niece is not a good mother, I told her "may be the best way to help is that you just shut up and mind your own business" :D



 
(picture credit - http://stophavingaboringlife.com)
 
Couple of years before I started reading and researching on this topic. I could not find much local writings on this. There are many expert articles in the internet from mental and physical health experts. But I feel I must write this, because in Sri Lanka, raising a happy baby is much to do with the society and its attitudes. Parents and family has to do the main part of it, but society too have a role in it. I'm still not an expert, but I can at least write some crucial points I came across during my studies on this. 


Disclaimer
  • This is not in a particular order. I put numbers to make it neat to read. But all points are equally weighted and important.
  • I assume that some one who search and find this article and continue to read this article is someone who actually interested on this topic and willing to put a genuine effort.
  • It is stressed that only a person who is mentally sound (I mean not sick or abusive nature) can look after a child.
 
What to do to adopt a happy child in Sri Lanka
 
1. You are already doing great - Make the parents happy :)

If you want to find out how to make your child happy and safe, I'm sure you are already a good parent. Forget about what society says. You know how much of an effort you made. Mistakes do happened by anyone. As long as you try to be a good parent, you are good :). So be confident about your parenting skills. Because to make a child happy, you will have to be happy first :)
 
2.  Let the mother and father be the primary care provider of a baby.
 
What does it mean? usually a child will love his primary care giver the most. That is the person whom he attaches the most with. A child will get bonded and love the person who spend the most amount of time with him and address to his needs. No one else will or no one else can love a baby more than his parents. Therefore in my opinion a baby need to together with the parents as and when its possible.

I've heard parents complaining that their babies do not love them, without taking much effort to build the bond. They just expect that how God created the baby is to love the mother the most. Well in my opinion, it doesn't happened that simply. In a usual case, a baby will love the mother or the parents the most, because they are the people who love and care for the baby the most.
 
Currently most parents in Sri Lanka is employed and therefore the babies are with the grand parents or relatives or maids / nannies or at day care centers. The issue is when the baby stays more amount of time with the relatives, they have a refusal in mind or rather jealousy to see the baby cuddle with the parents when they come home. They do not let the parents be with the child at least in the small amount of time they actually can. They rather say things like "oh now I will feel the baby", or "now I will put the baby to sleep" or some thing of that nature without allowing the parents to hang around with the baby. Just don't. Give the chance to the parents. Unless they bonded with the baby, they will never love the baby and in return baby too will not love the parents which is a beginning of a disaster.
 
 
3.  Let the father be a primary care provider too.
 
Well I did mention this in the 1st point, but I repeat yes. Many Sri Lankan fathers are kept out of the duty when it comes to a baby. Either they willingly stay out of their duty thinking its mothers' job or they are forcibly cornered saying they do not know how to raise a baby.
 
Why not give a chance to fathers to get trained on how to look after a baby? (provided that the father loves the baby and willing to take care of the baby and have bit of common sense too :D). For generations, father has been kept out of duty and now it may be hard for them to fit in. But why not we try to change it? Why do we want to drag the bad parts of our history to the future generations? I guess its worth guiding them to be a responsible father in all aspects.

A fathers duty is not only to provide financial needs of the family. Let him learn on how to feed a baby, how to put a baby to sleep and how to change a nappy. May be they can start with playing with the baby which is not much difficult :) . If the fathers really attach with and love their children, I feel half of the problems in society will end. Let them have some work. Let them keep them selves occupied with the baby, so they will not have time for other nonsense. When kids are attached to the father, they will discuss things with the father too when they grow up.
 
In about two recent murder cases I read that in their families the grand parents have asked the father to sleep in a separate room giving space to the mother and the babies. They were rich enough people to buy either a large bed to accommodate all or to buy a cot to the babies or even have a separate attached baby room for the babies. Do not act so dumb when it comes to babies. A baby is surely a responsibility of the father too and let him do it. Trust me a father can be a better capable parent than many others who think they are good in looking after babies.

Well I suppose its obvious that I'm talking about ordinary fathers and not those who rape their children.

4. Role of grand parents in handling grand children

Having said all the above to stress the importance of parents taking the responsibility, by any mean it does not undermine the value and role of grand parents in Sri Lanka. For generations, they were the foundation of families and they were responsible for the protection of development of grand children. They have an experience of a life time compared to a young parent and they do have more time to spend with grand children. Many parents I met blatantly put the blame on grand parents on most of the faults they did with upbringing the child. But what I felt was what is lack is a good communication line between parents and grand parents. Specially when it comes to in laws , both the parties were not willing to listen and respect each others feelings.

But in Sri Lanka, brining up a child is a joint effort. You cannot eliminate grand parents from your child's life. They are a very important part of a child's life. Its just that you need to discuss things and put the child's benefit first than your own interests.

Grand parents could be given certain tasks to do such as taking them to Montessori / teaching them words / teaching them religion (as long as they are not extremists :D ). You can decide it depend on the priorities of your family. But just make them feel that they are included too :)
 
5.  Stop asking the toddler which parent they love the most
 
ha ha this is a personal experience too. I grew up in a large family with aunts and uncles and cousins and grand parents and all. When I was small I got really confused with everyone asking me whether I love the father or the mother the most. When I said both, they demanded, "No you got to select one. You can't say both". Why do people think that a child can't love both the parents? And today after 30 odd years also I'm hearing people asking same question. It does affect the parents mind too. When everyone is busy trying to be the child's favorite, the need to bring him to a good citizen can be easily forgone.

6.  Stop comparing the baby with other babies

Every single time they do it. I've not managed to complete many calls with the people I Know without hearing some comparisons between kids. Your neighbor's baby managed to walk in 10 months doesn't mean your baby also have to walk in 10 months. Aishwarya's baby can count to 10 when she was just 16 months doesn't mean you have to rush your baby to teach numbers. Every baby is an individual. Rather than comparing, its good to read and understand development milestones attached to age. (refer below link if you have no idea what milestones are)

http://www.babycenter.com/milestone-charts-birth-to-age-3

Don't check out every other baby's plate to see how much food they eat. Rather look for how much a baby of that age should eat.  (refer the link below).

http://www.babycenter.com/0_age-by-age-guide-to-feeding-your-baby_1400680.bc

Babies learn depending on their ability as well as the amount of training they get. But performing early as possible does not mean that a baby is going to be a super star or vice versa.

7.  Be aware on the protection of the kid from abuse

Child abuse is not just sexual abuse even though it is the most visible form of abuse. So many children get abused. It does happened in good families too. It happens mostly from known people. Protecting a child is the most difficult part of upbringing a child specially in a country like Sri Lanka today. So parents be vigilant, be educated, read and learn. You try to be a baby and pretend blind to what's happening around you is not going to help.

If you are too lazy to search, at least read the below article. It has lot of important basics you must know as a parent. It has the signs you must know to look in the child.

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/child_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm

I've seen little girls getting abused in busses (in the form of unnecessary touching and saying things etc) even when they are travelling with a parent. Parents just looking after the window and in their own worlds without checking what's happening with kids. Its just the very ignorance and dumbness of parents lead to kids getting abused.

Do not leave the kid alone with anyone. I mean reading the news now days you got to think like an Israli and suspect everyone :D.

Teach the kids that no one else will pick them from Montessori other than the parents or grand parents. Teach them that parents will not send next door guy or uncle to pick them.

Listen to the child. Ask them what happens on daily basis. Ensure them that you have a solution for all their problems.


8.  Child is not a display object - treat with respect

Someone pointed me a mother from my school who has put a naked picture of her baby as the time line banner of her face book. Then she has another picture where her half dressed girl child seated on a table with lots of arrack bottles and drunk uncles around her !! The little girl is going to school now and the mother has naked pictures of her in public and I feel like errrrhhhh how dumb ! It may be sweet or adorable for you and me but not for some phsyco.

Same as many people just change cloths of kids in front of anyone. Do not invite for trouble. You may be encouraging an abuser to reach the child by doing this. Why not treat your baby with some kind of respect? If you don't change your cloths in front of everyone, why do you think its ok for you to do it for your baby? I've heard even the extended family members making mock comments for the kid on unnecessary things thanks to their parents being so dumb.

Protect their little secrets. They say things with you not for you to share with everyone who comes to the house. You do that with small things he says, your child will decide he is not going to tell you anything no matter how serious the issue is.

9. Take care of your self

If you are looking after a baby, better to look after your self well too.


10. Tell your child that you will be there for him no matter what happens

Most of the time, kids do not tell things with parents because of the fear that they will get blamed for not listening to them. They start following and trusting outsiders and become victims. Its important that you show your child what is right and wrong. But same as that its important that your child knows that you will be there for him when he is in a difficult situation.
 
I remember I met a girl who happened to be a victim of a boy who took her half naked pictures and then black mailed with those. She did every single thing to make sure those pictures don't reach her parents. Child opted to get abused than having to tell the parents that a mistake did happened. Its sad that the relationship in a family is as such.


11. Read some professional  parenting tips

Every parent do have a gut feeling on what is best for their child. It is right most of the time. But there's nothing wrong with reading some expert advice as and when you have time. I've given some links I found. Happy reading :)

Ref -

http://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-raise-a-happy-child-ages-2-to-4_1492443.bc

http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/2012/09/27/200-ways-to-bless-your-children-with-a-happy-childhood/
 
This is getting too long. May be I will write a separate set of articles elaborating each other.

Your ideas are most welcome :)


 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Nishadee,

I'm Sweedish and my husband is Sri Lankan. Our son is a Buddhist as we agreed before the marriage. I'm trying to find some good Sinhala story books (which his father can read to him, but he do not have much time to go shopping and find those). Same as we will want to buy some Budhist religious books in English for children, may be then I can look in to the books and teach him the religion. Wonder whether you can help us with any links to a book store or reference to a list of books? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Is there any law to stop or ban people from forcible circumcision? I don't like to circumcise my child to be born in 4 more months, but my husband's family will do by force.