When You Want Your Only One To Be Number One?
In the absence of a sibling, all of the parents’ attention is focused on the only child- which is natural. But the problem starts when this attention becomes overbearing- an only child constantly runs the risk of being weighed down by his parents’ expectations.
When a parent has only one child to vest all dreams and ambitions in, the parent sometimes can become demanding, knowingly or unknowingly. So much so that the only child is cornered into playing ‘multiple roles and tasks’ to fulfill his parents varied expectations. It is easy for parents to fall into the stereotypical mode of raising an only child.
Here is a list of ‘usual traps’ parents of only children may fall into. Find if you are in it or out of it. Take the reality check.
Are You Trying To Raise A Superman?
If it is economics that has driven you to stop with just one child, then chances are that you are sparing no effort to put your child through the best of schools and the best of talent training centers in order to give him a head start in life. You are possibly engaging your only child in many activities to make him ‘simply superior’ than his peers (which you may believe he already is!). Parents get disappointed when their child is unable to cope with the demanding schedule.
Reality Check: What you want for your child may not be the best for him. Also your assessment of his potential and capability may not be in tandem with the child’s true capacity.
Are Your Great Expectations Making A Pip Out Of Your Child?
Remember the protagonist Pip of the novel Great Expectations. Well, he was rather alone and miserable. Are your great expectations making a Pip out of your only child? Some parents openly state their high expectations from their child. Many don’t- yet they tend to communicate it nonverbally through grunts, frowns and even silence. Children are very sensitive to what their parents expect of them and can end up feeling inferior or unaccomplished when achievements don’t match up to their parents’ benchmark. It is more important to raise a child who feels secure, loved and cherished within the family.
Reality Check: Are your expectations normal and reasonable? Is your only child under pressure to fulfill your expectations of him? Are you offering him sufficient unconditional love or is your affection based on his ‘performance’?
Are You A ‘Star-Parent?’
As opposed to parents who want to push their children to attain their optimum capability, there are parents who believe that their children are born prodigies. They try their best to showcase their children’s talent to the world. We find parents who push and prod their ‘prodigies’ into specific fields of art or athletics with a gusto that is rather scary. It is not rare to see parents who dream of their ‘gifted child’ being a naturalist or a historian the moment the child expresses interest in going to a zoo or a museum!
Reality Check: Are you pursuing your ‘star dreams’ in the interest of the child or are you vicariously living out your own long lost dream?
The ‘Less Is More’ Syndrome
As opposed to star parents and parents who are bent on raising a super child are parents who turn a blind eye to their child’s pitfalls and shortcomings. To them, their child is ‘perfect’ and the child cannot be made any better than what he already is. Those parents who suffer the ‘less is more’ syndrome usually ignore their child’s bad grades, indulge him excessively and excuse his bad behavior (after all they find it cute!) Somewhere these parents want to be ‘popular’ with their only child and allow for any kind of behavior as they don’t want any kind of conflict or confrontation. They would rather brush all vital issues under the carpet rather than address them.
Reality Check: Children who are not given goals often drift away and do not grow to be responsible citizens. It is vital to be a guide and an example to the child and help him in setting realistic goals and achieving his potential. Aiming too low for your child may prove detrimental for him and he may grow up aimless and indolent. A good parent is not someone who accedes to every whim of the child but someone who encourages the child towards positive and productive engagement.
Raising A Barbie?
Are you trying to raise a child who holds her fork perfectly, speaks like an adult and knows how to conduct herself like a lady? Chances are you are ruining her childhood despite your best intentions. Allowing your child to act her age is one of the best gifts you can offer as a parent. Bringing up a “grown up lady” at the age of six and seven will only make your child emotionally stunted and abnormal.
Reality Check: Dirty face, soggy socks, soiled finger nails are the indicators that your child is getting some well deserved ‘childlike’ fun. Do not intrude into their childhood. They will have enough growing up to do later. Parents are not in a child-rearing competition to assess who has the best child in the neighborhood. You want a child and not a plastic Barbie, do you?