COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill. We are locked indoors with time on our hands; time which previously we would have given anything to get free. What do we do with that free time? Read books? Watch movies? Sleep? These activities, if you can call them that, are refreshing, but one activity is most rewarding; spending time with your children.

The Changing Role Of Parents:

Parenting in the past had been about disciplining children, keeping them in the straight and narrow path by the force of our will or the use of a cane. Well, that may have worked in the past, when children were viewed more as old-age insurance policies than our responsibility. Children too were duty-bound to serve their parents.

This whole take on parenting has undergone a revolutionary change as with everything in this world. Children are our responsibility. Who they are and what they become is in our hands. They are given to us as a blessing, our chance at immortality and they are priceless. Just because we are parents, we do not become eligible for their love. It has to be earned and we should be worthy of it.
Dr. Naresh Shanmugam

More A Friend Than A Parent:

Children today are exposed to a great many influences, some good, some bad and some dangerous. A young child will always confide in a parent, but as the child grows into a teen, this trust has to be constantly earned and re-earned. This can be accomplished only if we become more of a friend than a parent to our children. But there should be a clear demarcation of what they can and what they should not. They should not take everything for granted and expect parents to full fill their wishes.

Once we establish a relationship based on friendship, we will automatically earn their love, trust and respect. We will be their confidante in their time of need and we can rest assured that they will not look beyond us for support or for a sounding board.

It is easy to become your child’s friend.

Friendship is one of the most beautiful bonds that exist between people. Friendships once begun have no expiry date. They go on forever. By becoming your child’s friend, your relationship will be fresh throughout your life. 

To become your children’s friend:

  • Play with them as often as you can.

This will bridge your age gap and make you a friend instantly.

  • Watch their favourite movies with them.

It makes you grow closer.

  • Involve them in day-to-day work.

Sharing chores builds lasting bonds. It also makes them understand what the parents do, to keep up the house

  • Appreciate their efforts.

No matter how small, their effort should be greatly appreciated.

  • Listen to them no matter how busy you get.

They should know that you will listen however busy you are. 

  • Give them some space

They can have freedom but under supervision. They can use the internet but they should know that parents have set controls and they are watching.

It is very easy to become your children’s friend. Just think of them as your friends and they will be yours for life. Time spent with them increases your happiness and as William Wordsworth once wrote

 ‘For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,’

And you will dance with your children in your memories.

               - Dr. Naresh Shanmugam MBBS, DCH, DNB (Paed), FRCPCH, Dip. In Nutri Medicine (UK), CCT (UK), CSST (UK) Director- Women and Child Health & Senior Consultant- Paediatric Gastroenterology & Hepatology Intestinal Rehabilitation and Transplantation, Metabolic Disorders Clinic.