We all want to be the democratic parent. But only when the kids are making correct choices, right? Don't worry, we're all guilty as charged. But wouldn't it be great if our children made the right choices on their own? Sounds difficult? It isn't! Here's how you can nudge them along...
First step: self-censorship
Talk about things you want your kids to assimilate. Remember that they're always listening and forming perceptions. So steer clear of adult humour and profanities. If you're constantly swearing while driving, don't be surprised to hear them mutter 'fuck' when their toy breaks.
Step two: teach them how to make friends
Most kids take cues from their friends-just like you. When was the last time you bought a dress that your best friend thought was ugly? Your little girl isn't all that different. If her best friend is a miniature Blake Lively, she's going to want to be one too. But if she's someone who aspires to make it to the debating team in school, she is a good influence to have around. You can't ask your child to change her friends at 14, but at 3, when your opinion was all that mattered to your child, if you guide them to choose the right kind of friends, it's likely they'll stick to them in the tougher years.
Step three: network
"Some parents will always make it more difficult for other parents," says Sonal. "Younger kids will always, everywhere, try to dress and act older." There will be parents who will allow the skirts to become shorter and the pants to become baggier. Chances are, they'll be the parents of richer, cooler, more popular kids. Chances are also that your child might want to emulate these kids at some point. You need to find parents who think like you to help you keep an eye on the kids. You can't always keep tabs on your children without stifling them. It's easier to allow sleepovers when you know that your little one isn't going to spend the night watching Britney Spears showing off her underwear!
Step four: choose your battles well
Seema Bhalla from Mumbai lives in mortal fear of the dialogue: you just don't get it! "Lately, I don't seem to get anything," she sighs. It's actually true, I don't get why Simran wants to join a gym at the age of 12, why birthday parties shouldn't wrap up by 10 and why the girl who loved reading hasn't been to the library in the last three weeks."
Meet them halfway, is what Sonal suggests. "The lure of the forbidden fruit is timeless. The more you say no, the more they'll want it. The gym at 12 might be non-negotiable, but a late party once in a while could be something Seema could reconsider. If you say no to everything, it'll just make them rebel."
And remember, no matter what you do, there will be wrong choices, secrets and lies-hopefully they'll be few and far in between. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Think about it, we're sure you didn't tell your parents either the first time you Googled porn. Just like you felt you had to lie to your parents about some stuff, your kids might feel the need to lie and keep secrets. And even if you find out, sometimes, you just need to turn a blind eye.