When it comes to parenting, there are generally as many opinions as there are people around a child. But there is one thing that everyone from the Dalai Lama to Oprah have one opinion on. Everyone agrees that the best gift you can give your child is wings to fly high and roots to stay grounded and connected to who they are.
Flying high – It is a dream cherished by every parent and we do everything in our power to let them explore the sky and soar over it. Child rearing is in fact about equipping the child with all those tools that can help them rise as high as they can and stay aloft.
Teach a teen driving and they will badger you to let them drive. So, should you not teach them driving? Like everything about parenting, roots and wings are about balance too. You are helping them develop wings with the driving lessons, but you are also keeping them safe and providing stability and the ability to make the right choices with rules.
Finding the right balance and juggling between boundaries and freedom is one of the best things a parent can do. It is also different for each parent and even your own two children will need you to do it differently for each of them.
We often start with roots so that the young one can draw nourishment, stabilise and grow to their full potential. A healthy body and the right stimulation for the mind with books, toys, travel and more is a good beginning. Add to it strong family bonds and build safe cocoons with love and laughter. Festival times are often great to create family bonds that lives get rooted in.
As infants and toddlers explore, we also have to define boundaries as part of root creation, so that they do not get into trouble. Starting with simple boundaries like maybe not touching electric items and walking on the pavement when younger, to more complicated boundaries like participating in a sleepover at a friend’s home for tweens or taking a vehicle on their own for teens, are good opportunities to teach responsible behaviour.
Teaching responsibility at a very young age like putting away toys after play even to toddlers, or helping with chores for preschoolers helps kids stay rooted all their lives, but paradoxically you are also helping them soar as they grow more disciplined, develop an ability to work hard and learn success skills.
Balance responsibility with freedom to explore. Let them learn from their play. Encourage them to ask questions. Read to them. Toddlers who play with toys that are open-ended and require them to think for themselves develop problem-solving skills. Or when you teach a preschooler politeness, you are strengthening their wings. Reading inculcates a love for books and curiosity.
When you build strong wings for your child, they will fly far and high. Independence is heartening and frightening at the same time for all parents since it means your parenting is successful, but also means that your child will not always be by your side.
But as the Dalai Lama says, “Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back, and reasons to stay.” There is no greater reason for anyone to stay than love. Let your child know that you love them and they will always stay true to their roots, no matter how high or far they fly. This is the season for giving – give them the best gift you can – Roots