Turbulence

There is one topic I have been avoiding to write since two years. I have been mentioning about it in many posts, mentally drafted the post almost 500 times but somehow never have been able to publish it on the blog.

This hesitance has resulted in a long series of articles ending up as drafts (either on my blog or in my mind) because this base issue hasn’t been talked about. But, things are about to change for good. I am finally, ready to write about everything I have been holding back.

The topic in question is Stubbornness. The roots of this problem are long, strong and deep enough to make me lose my sleep, my peace of mind and lately sanity in alarming proportions.

Enough beating around the bush. Let’s come straight to the point. As a single parent, right from the day of Pari’s birth (that was coincidentally the turning point in my life when I had learnt that from that day on, I will be the sole responsible soul for my child’s upbringing) while I knew the life of being a single parent is going to be tough. But, never in my wildest dreams had I imagined such obstacles in my path.

Though there are a number of challenges that I face being a single parent, for the sake of clarity, I am going to focus only on the emotional and psychological aspects of the issues I have been facing.

To begin with, it is an exhaustive drill. I have no choice but to play the parent 24x7x365. There are no vacations or weekly offs of being a parent which has slowly but surely been taking a toll on my existence. Though I have a number of people in my life who are often seen as possible caretakers for my child, but somehow, I have never been able to enjoy the luxury of having time off because either Pari refuses to stay away from me or the people I trusted, gave me enough reasons to not leave my child with them for longer than an hour at most.

I am avoiding from indulging in the blame game because that would only add to the bitterness and will yield no good. This is exactly where Pari’s stubbornness comes into the picture.

To begin with, Pari’s favorite word is “Nahin” or ‘No’. She uses it as a shield and a sword at the same time. My every question has to swim across like a paper boat in a sea of ‘No(s)’ for everything. I am often pushed to battle it out with Pari to have things as small as her homework done.

I clearly remember writing this letter to Pari where I tried to explain to her the importance of saying ‘No’ and meaning it. But, before she could grow up enough to read that letter, life seems to have chosen to fight back my words. The ingrained stubbornness in her is a gift from both her parents. Her father and her maternal grandmother (my mom) are epitomes of stubbornness and their refined quality has expressed as a dominant trait in Pari right from birth.

Pari’s stubbornness is so disturbing that if she makes up her mind for something, nothing in the world can make her change it. No amount of explaining, cajoling, bribing, scolding, shouting (yes, I am guilty of that) or even pampering works. The result being, more often than not, Pari makes wrong choices and ends up in trouble.

Pari’s stubbornness has caused her to fall seriously ill on a number of occasions, but still, she has shown no inclination in trying to pay heed to what I (or her grandparents) keep trying to explain to her in various forms and stories. No form of discipline has worked on her till date. Even at school, I have been told by her teachers that Pari chooses to do what she wishes to. Though she is a disciplined child who obeys what her teachers and the staff at school instructs her to, when it comes to doing work on her own, she has a mind of her own.

Let’s take a simple incident into consideration for better understanding. Three days ago, during a class activity, when Pari performed well, her teacher gave her a chocolate as a reward. While all the other students happily took the chocolate, Pari said thank you and returned it back to her teacher. Later I learnt that the sweet given wasn’t the one Pari likes, so she chose to give it back to her teacher. Though Pari had told me about it, when I had the opportunity to speak to her teacher, I noticed that she hadn’t taken this incident too well.

On days Pari is in no mood to study, she refuses to budge even when her teacher in school tries to make her write or recite. What her teachers find surprising is the fact that on being asked, she says it up front that she is in no mood to study.

Blame it on my being an old school parent, but I believe, inculcating discipline in life and an understanding of what is important in life should begin right from a young age. My 4-year-old is, in my opinion, old enough to be talked to and be explained that study is as important as play and so is food. But, things are only getting difficult by the minute.

To be very honest, I am many times left dumbfounded with her logic and the way her stubbornness encourages her to take risks and end up in trouble. Being denied for a particular thing often triggers her to retaliate with all her might. She throws a fit of anger, cries and at times screams to have things done her way. I cannot blame it all on Pari alone.

In my tryst to balance discipline with being indulgent my parents have played a key role in spoiling Pari to bits. Whatever I tell Pari that she can’t have (because of any broken promise or tasks are undone or any other reason) is given by my parents to her. So Pari seems to have found an easy way out of having things done her way. (I’ll perhaps do a more detailed post on this issue because it is a multi-faceted problem.)

This has led to a war like situation in my life. On one front I am seen fighting with my parents, trying hard to make them see sense in my subtle refusals to Pari’s endless demands while on the other, I am caught up being the BAD mom who seemingly disapproves of everything Pari has to say.

While I try my best to discipline Pari, my attempts often fall on deaf ears. I spend all of my days either with her when she is at home or preparing to make the thing work well, while she is at school. The stress that this madness has been pumping in my mind is slowly building up enough pressure to keep me agitated and disturbed on more occasions than I would like.

Having said that, I am nowhere close to giving up. Not because I am a warrior at heart but because I really don’t have that option. Being a single parent, my child is my 100% responsibility and I can in no way see her walk down a path of self-destruction. I am aware, I sound crazy, but occasions when Pari has fallen very sick as an outcome of her stubbornness or my parents giving into her wishes defying logic, I seem to have totally lost it.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the many rants that I can promise are going follow on this blog. So please be prepared for the same.

Song on my mind: Pyar humey kis mod pe le aaya ~ Satte Pe Satta

29 thoughts on “Turbulence

  1. Luna

    “No form of disciplining has worked on her till date. Even at school, I have been told by her teachers that Pari chooses to do what she wishes to. Though she is a disciplined child who obeys what her teachers and the staff at school instructs her to, but when it comes to doing work on her own, she has a mind of her own.”

    You’re really not looking at the bigger picture here. Pari is disciplined, follows instructions and that is pretty good enough for a 4yo. How many four year olds have you seen with a mind of their own? I mean with a strong sense of their own logic and reasoning. Most kids that age and even above that, generally tend to simply do what they hear and see or follow things just because they’ve been instructed to do so and are afraid to deviate the other way because they will be deprived of affection or material things. Be it their peers or family. The chocolate incident speaks volumes about her personality. She returned it only after she thanked the teacher. She doesn’t think that returning things given to her for appreciation is wrong. At times like this we pitch in to tell our kids what is done and not. If not now I’m sure they will eventually learn. We can’t teach them life lessons every other day, because there are too many.
    Even I believe that discipline should be inculcated at its earliest best. From what I see you’re doing your best in that department. I know that her stubbornness sometimes will lead to her learning a lesson the hard way and you don’t want that, but you’re trying your best aren’t you? Why are you stressing yourself with something that you have no control of? Pari is very very lucky to have a mom like you and I pray and believe that she will turn out more than fine. Just like her mom. 🙂

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    1. Dear Luna,
      Apologies to a very late reply to your very helpful comment. Your kind words helped me see the positive side of this tangle I felt I was caught up in. Thank you so much for making me see things in a better light 🙂

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  2. i think kids of this generation are more on their own.. only when they want, they do the things( homework, eating etc).. any attempt to do against their wish is a pain.. i have changed and letting Bunty go her way.. like u said, no amount of bribing, scolding ,pleading helps.. 😦

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  3. I am sure you will get there ME. Pari is too small to understand and as you said, being with grandparents she would be pampered a lot and knows her way out. I am sure all of this would sort out, once she is of the understandable age. Hugs to you.

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  4. Era – When I started this post , I knew where it was leading.
    I have seen the same happen to my son and my nieces when the grandparents stayed with them . It happens . There are benefits of having grandparents near us , but this is one major disadvantage that comes as a bonus.
    But let me tell you , when my son was around 4 , he started to understand that the discipline that I was imposing on him was for his own good. He started to understand that giving you chocolates or “whatever mom said no” to isn’t about love or isn’t right. But I do not think that every kid will understand that. I have a niece who is 15 and spoiled rotten because the grandparents would not allow her parents to scold her .
    Now my house has two floors , meaning I take him upstairs have a one-one talk with him and make him understand why I do not want him to do something. This works for me. I never beat him or shout at him , but I have to admit I did resort to emotional blackmailing a few times which worked in my favor.
    There is no use shouting at your parents , I know, coz when the stress and tension builds up between them and you , then things turn ugly. Instead try explaining softly to her , try telling her that you need her and she needs you .
    Another trick that really worked in my favor is stories . I tell him bedtime stories about a boy, he enjoys it, The story will proceed with the boy doing something wrong (something which my son did ) and then how he ends up in trouble. And Pepper doggy books . Read them to her, get her thinking and make her realize it , that is the key.

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    1. Thank you very much for helping me with valuable suggestions at a time when the built up stress could have actually broken me down. I have to say that after reading your comment, I took up your advise seriously and though it took sometime but it has actually worked.
      {Hugs}

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  5. I can’t bet my life on it but having seen my brother and sister grow up (10-year age gap, they are pretty much like my babies too :)) I think the stubbornness is a phase. She might just grow out of it.

    You are doing a great job so far, ME, don’t beat yourself up over things.

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  6. hmm… so much so this seem to be a common tantrum toddlers throw, it needs to be corrected. u r not an old age parent, you are just trying to protect your child from possible future harm. u have been trying hard to explain Pari quite often in your subtle and harsh ways, so I won’t suggest you anything on those lines. plus each child is to be dealt differently and remember that only you as a parent will totally understand her.. No one else in the entire world. You really need to have a serious talk with your parents. And remember dear, this is not to be blamed on your single parent status. I have seen families where neither both the parents nor the controlling or responsible parent is able to handle kids tantrum. All will be well in the end! After all she is tigress’ cub 🙂

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    1. Love you sippyk for always helping me with an unbiased reply. Apologies for a late reply, but your comments have always calmed me down and helped me see things with a changed perspective 🙂

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  7. Hang in there Era and keep doing what you feel is right. I can understand coz I am dealing with a 3 and half year old who is very stubborn as well! And do share tricks that work , I would love to apply the same too 🙂

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  8. I see similiarities between Pari and Mimi. Both seem to have their emotions on the surface. My sense is that these kids work well with structure – that’s why they love school. So if caregivers send out mixed messages, this confuses the kid and with girls like ours, they react irrationally, not to mention that they are strongwilled. My husband and I had fallen into a pattern on contradicting each other, and I feel that adds to the complex mix of emotions in an already emotionally charged child.

    I do think it gets better with time. Also I find positive reinforcement works well with Mimi. I’ve started a star chart where I give both kids a star for good behaviour. It has worked on instance to get Mimi to do things she doesn’t want to. Also they love listening to me give specific praise.

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    1. Thank you TB for suggesting positive reinforcement. All this while I had been juggling with many approaches and failing miserably. But ever since I read your comment, I consciously keep reminding myself to stick to positive reinforcement. I do fail sometimes but on most occasions the results surprise me 😀
      I totally agree on Pari & Mimi being strikingly similar 🙂

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  9. Hugs ME. I know how tough this can be on you and Pari. Persistence is what pays off ME. One thing I struggle with it when grand parents are around, it is so hard to set limits. You all need to me on the same page here before you can correct Pari. Its hard otherwise. I had and still have the ‘no’ problem with my kids. Taking no from our dictionary is what is helping us. “Can I eat ice cream?”, Instead of saying ‘no, you cannot have it’, I learnt to say, ‘yes, but after your dinner’. Chances are they forget by then or are full, so they don’t need it anymore. It will get better ME. Focus on the problem and solution; Not the emotional side of it. I often find it difficult when I think that way. Hugs again.

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    1. “Focus on the problem and solution; Not the emotional side of it.”
      That bit helped me big time Dil. Thank you for those words of wisdom that coming from a mother made perfect sense to me and things have changed in the time gone by 😀
      {Hugs}

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  10. I agree with the comment by Luna. She has a point. However, all i can say is “Hugs”! My daughter is 2+ years, she goes to play school. I work from home. I find this arrangement so painful at times, being around a toddler the whole day is just so exhausting. So today I decided to have her stay at the day care after school for 2 hours. Single parenting must be tough!! All love and good wishes your way! You are doing a good job…relax! She will turn out great!..:)

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  11. Dear ME, if it gives up any comfort, almost all toddlers 2 – 4 are really strong willed. They are learning a lot of things at a very fast pace. Just give her some time, may be pick the important battles and leave the rest you will feel better 🙂 am sure you are doing everything you can. Hang in there, there are a lot of harried, exhausted parents tearing their hair out 🙂

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    1. Thank you Kavs for telling me to be selective in my battles. It was only after reading your comment I realised that I was making my life more painful by taking every problem as a challenge and accepting it too. I did take a back seat on matters that didn’t really need aggressive action and things have gradually changed for the better ( to some extent).
      {Hugs}

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  13. I read your blog with interest. Pari reminds me of my 3 year old grand-daughter who has a day school- 9.30 a.m to 3.30 p.m. Unlike her elder sibling who is more malleable, she is quite obstinate, sharp and perceptive. She is quite articulate and uses the right word/phrase. She is quite docile with us as grandparents, but shows her mischief with her parents. They live in another State and so we see them physically only at intervals.

    One view I have is that children require someone to play with. Their activity level- mental and physical- is much higher than ours. To expend it , they needs some one of same or similar age. In most cases that is absent. The old concept of children rushing out to play at 5.00 p.m with other children in group is now mostly missing.

    Another view I hold is that , parents or those bringing up the child or children should show a united before the children. If one parent is scolding the child, the other parent should not rush in and fight with the other. This is seen and absorbed by the child who plays one against the other. Any difference in view on bringing up children should be settled when the child is not around.

    Being part of a large extended family with several children also helps the kids in having a balanced view. Seeing only the same set of individuals on most days makes them very set in their ways.

    Lastly over dependence on any one parent creates huge pressure on the parent and the child. The parent as an adult does not have a “me” time for any extended period. The child sees only one person on whom she or he can place complete reliance.

    Single parent existed at all points of time. However, better social support, a more simple existence, lesser knowledge of outside world ( no tv, no internet, limited range of toys,much lesser income levels) reduced the pressure points. The changed living environment around us had given us better material comforts while simultaneously increasing the mental pressure.

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    1. Welcome to my space 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your valuable experience with kids the age of my child. Being a single parent, like you rightly said, the pressure is immense to always try to do the right thing because your child is always looking up to you to set an example.

      I have come to realise that the emotionally rough patch I went through post my divorce and illness of my mother and few other family issues ( about which I have written on this blog too) I have been too pressed to be the normal, calm parent Pari needs. This was the trigger behind the frequent melt downs I & Pari had in recent past.

      As time moved on, I have grown wiser & Pari more sensitive to understand what all is happening around her. Things are definitely looking up these days 😀

      I couldn’t agree more on the importance of parents/ grandparents having a similar line of approach at all times in front of children. It can make a huge ‘make or break’ difference on the young mind.

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