Let’s tell our children the truth for once

Published: May 21, 2014

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.

  • Racer

    Thank you for writing this. I have been wanting to write something like this since a long time, but can’t because it might appear to be disrepectful to my parents. Guess will have to wait till I become a parent myself. We need a major upgrade in the way we bring up our children. HUGE flaws in our methods. Thank you once again.Recommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com/ PostMan

    No body is perfect. What you have narrated is mostly frustration on part of parents – especially mothers who have to ensure that their children are well fed, protected from anything that can be a hazard to them and are looked after. Now this may include parents – a mother who has no clue about her child and who is being taken care of by a maid and a father who only sees his child at night… but rest assured, if something as little as an arm bent while jumping comes up, the mother who was yelling at her children will be the first to come to her child.Recommend

  • azeem khalid

    You are right doc! But my dear there are some things which nature gives us. Mothers and fathers are not all perfect but we being the broken piece if our mother’s body are so much in debt to her. I wasn’t abywhere , before my birth, I was part of my father’s and my mother’s body. It is so easy to criticize. I am not saying you are wrong, but you are ignoring the natural dictation. Have you ever seen a monkey with her mother? Try to imagine the feelings. I hope you will be a good mother soon. Moms may be bad fathers may be criminals but they are not that bad. Value them. :)
    Some things are above rationality and empiricism. Recommend

  • abc

    OMG….what is it…feeling really scared…please someone explain me in easy wordss….i mean whattt is it…confused,,:(Recommend

  • Parvez

    I thought your message was great…….What I understand is that you only get one chance at parenting ( despite having many children ) and if you get it very wrong, the result is hard to fix and the self retribution difficult to handle.Recommend

  • Waseem Ahmed

    I wish if my English was as eloquent as yours to explain my mind. I like your article and agree to what you are trying to say, at least in
    part if not totally.
    I have a feeling that it is all part of our evolving life style with ever rising element of selfishness with more and more usage of the words like I,Me, My etc. when it comes to our preferences, actions and attitudes.
    It applies for both parents and children in western society where religion has little role to play. Parents do as much as they can for their children and vice versa with less expectations and rewards by any in return. It is noticeably different in eastern societies generally and Muslim culture specifically. Talking about the later, parents do their bit as a part of basic instinct, with all good intentions but there is an element of return, reward from the children. One can wish for good values like being caring, respectful and obedient to the parents and elders in general but it is a totally different thing to expect or demand in return to what we do as a parent for our children.
    It was not the children who asked for this relationship in the first place. Children are less likely to learn from what we want them to but from what we do.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    well written , no nonsense, deep and articulate article.Great insight. Very well done, I hope you write more like this in the near future.

  • Waseem Ahmed

    Parents love should be unconditional, not wanting for any kind of return in the name of caring, respect or obedience. It is not the child who asked for this relationship in the first place. Children are less likely to learn from what we want them to but what we do.Recommend

  • Prof

    In the words of Kahlil Gibran (from his poem “On Children”)

    ‘Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.’Recommend

  • dxmaestro

    what’s deep and atriculate about it? to me it looks like the rants of a frustrated child.Recommend

  • dxmaestro

    1 – Not every mother suffocates her own child. It varies from case to case
    2 – Does a bruise kill the child very often? No, but labour can do that to a mother and VERY OFTEN
    3 – That too varies case to case and we are never there to know for sure if we were breastfed or not! Maybe that’s why we don’t complain?
    4 – This too varies from case to case. No one in their right mind would capture and hang up pictures of getting scolder or spanked! Pictures are memories and the should be happy.
    5 – Perfect parents don’t argue with each other in front of their child. But perfection is just a point of view. Every perfect couple fights. And they are not always able to keep it discreet. Again varies from case to case
    6 – Perfect parents don’t buy ungrateful children Ipads/Iphones. But again perfection is a point of view. And again varies from case to case
    7 – Well, you reap what you sow. If parents make mistakes, they face the consequences, sometimes later in their lives in the form of disobedient children who grow up to be just like their parents.Recommend

  • AM

    Wrong, humans should be expected to behave like humans, every parent need a break, every parent is prone to a break-down and every parent has weeknesses. Its OK to make mistakes and let child know that he/she can also make mistakes without a fear of being judged by a person like You. when a mother dedicate her 100% to a child, she is unable to give anytime to herself or anyother relationship, so its OK to let kid watch baby tv for a limited time or get a maid to look after the kid while the mother takes a 15minute shower. so that when the kid grows up she let him/her live a life of his own instead of being clingy cz she sacrificed everything she ever had for him.Recommend

  • Dad

    Sir, in fact your English is quite good. From what I can gather, you agree in totality with the author. I think respect has to be mutual and has to be earned. This expectation of return in our society is what is something not to be missed or overlooked. It this very assumption of ‘unconditional love’ which has marred the very equation of this relationship.Recommend

  • Dad

    Of course not every mother suffocates their kids but it happens in this very world still this concept of ‘holy cows’ associated with this relation. In most difficult labours, it is the fetus who succumbs but this is an irrelevant argument. Let’s not dwell on it. The point raised by the author is that if the mother suffers, so does the child (and the latter for no choice of hers). Btw it was just an analogy. Happy pictures…duhhh. But there are moments of child abuse at the hands of parents…in this very world…and those are not minor. And this ‘case to case variation’ points raised to by you…I can only say…”huh????”Recommend

  • Dad

    Or may be you have just seen a mirror…Recommend

  • Dad

    The very point raised by the author…This relationship should not be seen above rationality. The association of this relationship with the concept of “holy cow” needs to be questioned…Recommend

  • Dad

    Precisely what the author’s point is…humans are humans…they behave like humans…and then SHOULD BE SEEN AS HUMANS. i.e. parents CAN be questioned for their deeds and are answerable for them. They are NOT above rationality like the worthy Azeem Khalid pointed out above.Recommend

  • am

    or maybe u ARE the authour replying to all comments as guests? lolRecommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    or may be you really have seen le mirrorRecommend

  • fze

    Don’t get carried away dear. Parents are human beings and so are children, so keep the margin of error (follies) in life. Which means nobody is perfect. Not even moms!Recommend