Let’s tell our children the truth for once

Published: May 21, 2014
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We give our children fear before we have won their trust and we break many of them before they are even built.

We give our children fear before we have won their trust and we break many of them before they are even built. We give our children fear before we have won their trust and we break many of them before they are even built. PHOTO: REUTERS

Let’s not keep sitting on a throne like flawless Gods and Goddesses in front of our children inside the iron fort of self-appraisal and narcissism. Let’s not be deluded by thinking that we all have heaven under our feet no matter what. Let’s not get carried away by the grandiosity associated with the parent role, as a role done doesn’t mean a role well done. So let’s muster up some courage and speak the truth for once at last.

Let’s tell our kids that mothers not only bring new lives to earth, they also suffocate many before they can even take their first breath; for the fear of poverty or losing their ‘already lost’ chastity.

But these suffocated babies never speak a thing!

Let’s tell our kids today that whilst labour pains are hard on the mother, the push and the pull takes its toll on the baby as well, to an extent that the tiny heart can even stop beating as it succumbs to the stress of the birthing process. Let’s tell them that sometimes the bruise on a newborn’s head is worse than the one on mum’s perineum.

But these bruised babies never remember a thing!

Let’s tell our kids that if we can trade in breastfeeding for formula for the fear of losing our tone and a good night’s sleep, we may start using an artificial incubator in place of our wombs if we have a choice in the future.

But these incubated babies will never complain a thing!

Let’s show to the world the dark side of the pictures of cuddles and snuggles we hang in our kids’ rooms. Let’s tell them that interspersed amongst these bright moments are the times of threatening, scolding, shaking and spanking for things as little as stomping on a wet floor, breaking a vase, few scattered Lego pieces, an unfinished bowl, some spilt milk or a jump in the muddy puddle.

But these threatened and shaken children will never tell a thing!

Let’s admit that parents not only teach kids to talk but we also ‘show’ them how to tell a lie, yell, scream and argue. We are the ones to put the first splodges on their blank slates. We do not only give hugs, we give ‘time outs’ as well and most often we do it when all they need is a ‘time in’. We often give them fear before we have won their trust and we break many of them before they are even built.

But these broken kids will never raise a voice!

Let’s tell our kids we do not always slow down for them but we also tell them to ‘hurry up for God’s sake, you are taking too long’ while the tiny fingers try to do the laces or little legs try their best to catch up on the footpath. Let’s tell our kids we do not always sing lullabies at night, we also ask them to count imaginary sheep when they hardly know how to count. We give them a toy when they need our touch. Let’s ask our children to pay some gratitude to the iPads and the Wii as well on Mother’s and Father’s days, and also to the poor young maids who quietly help with their care from dawn to dusk. Let’s be honest and say that our ‘unconditional love’ is punctuated by so many rules; rules that we ourselves don’t abide by and forget that they are best taught by showing rather than telling.

But these innocent children will never realise a thing!

It’s time we made a confession that many of us expect our kids to show us respect we never give them in the first place. Let’s face it; we are too scared to get in what we give out. Tomorrow, we won’t like them complaining about us being a handful, a fussy eater or clumsy to others the way we do about them today and every day. We will not like to hear our pet sentence ‘I need a break from them’ resonating in the corridors of our future when we have swapped the role of care with our kids. We will expect attention, obedience and tender affection under all circumstances, regardless of what stresses they go through.

Because we are parents and we can’t forget like a baby or forgive like a child and yes, we do complain!

Kiran Zafar

Kiran Zafar

A graduate of King Edward Medical College and member of the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health and Advanced Fellowship Trainee of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, she currently resides in Queensland and tweets as @drkiranzafar (twitter.com/drkiranzafar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.