At the cessation of a long enervating day, Ciara wanted to try one last slide in the Nicco Park before going back home with her dad. It was the ‘cyclone’ slide which she had always been scared of. She mustered all her courage, took a deep breath and finally hurled herself down the plunging free fall. The next thing she did was rushing to a bathroom and throwing up.
The moment they returned I was mad at Kartik, repeating over and over again, “How could you let her do that? Why did you let her go alone? “.He was quite exasperated and replied “Why would I not let her go? Ciara had always been afraid of that slide since childhood. In fact I was quite proud of her for trying it, edging beyond her comfort zone. Moreover according to the rules of the park, she was more than tall enough for the slide and there were lifeguards. The consequence might not have been pleasant but she was safe. A month later she won’t even remember the unpleasant aspect of it and will be left only with a happy, undoubtedly proud memory of ‘going to Nicco Park!’ I know you are her mother but its okay to let your child make errors, suffer consequences and then face another decision.” The incident made me realize something rather simple which was later transformed into my parenting resolution —- let your child make mistakes.
As a mother myself, I know how difficult it is to let your child do something that you think has even the slightest risk. However as parents our responsibility is to keep our children unharmed. However this doesn’t mean that we should shield them from all possibility of defeat. Rather we should let them fail safely.
Many of the parents would mull as to why this is a resolution— it might apparently seem quite easy to let your child make mistakes, but in the process I realized that it isn’t quite so. How often do we say things like— “you need to straighten that and glue it here” or “you dint multiply number four, it becomes sixteen”. Most often because it’s easier, saves the day and we don’t want to see our child struggle we often jump quickly to the rescue. We should instead let them figure things on their own (even if it takes more than one trial) which will not only help them build self confidence and esteem but will also make them try new things. So one day when Ciara left her lunch box in the kitchen counter, I began panicking and I was just about to hop into my car to carry her lunch box when I was reminded of my resolution. I decided to just not do anything and let her come up with solutions. She might call me up for lunch or eat school lunch. It’s okay sometimes to back off a bit and bite your tongue at the imperfections.
As psychologist Madeline Levine recently wrote in the New York Times, “If you can’t stand to see your child unhappy, you are in the wrong business.” Its not only okay but also essential to let your child take risks — and make mistakes, inevitably — safely. The resolution was not written in stone and I was quite flexible with it. It was just a guide for me that helped me develop my parenting. I too grew as a parent as I let her go watching her grow.