Happy Parents' Day
5 June 2015 09:51 am
By Sirohmi Gunesekera(Teacher, Attorney-at-Law and Researcher intoHuman Relations & The Family Unit)
The first of June is the Global Day of Parents. Did you know? Most of us became parents simply by following the fairy tale to “get married and live happily ever after.” But the reality of family life certainly does not mean living happily ever after!
To begin with, a newborn infant needs a lot of care both day and night. The mother has to spend sleepless days and nights breastfeeding and changing nappies. The baby never seems to stop crying and the young mother has to cope, along with her own pain as she recovers after childbirth. Where is the new father? Ideally, he too should take turns to break rest and help soothe the baby’s crying. The mother can express some of her milk and put it in a bottle and train the father to feed the infant while the mother catches up on her sleep.
Paternity leave should be the law and it can extend to more than a week, enabling the new family to bond with each other. No, I don’t mean that the father should spend his paternity leave drinking and partying with his friends while the mother along with the grandmother cope with the child. Counsellor Anne Abeysekera who is no more said that one of her daughters had the baby in England and after the child was born; the infant was given to the mother and father who were together throughout the childbirth so they could bond as a family while the doctor left the family alone.
The father and mother together should share in baby care. The father should not think of doing overtime and trying to earn more money. If they are together, they don’t have to spend a lot of money on baby clothes and other accessories. Sri Lanka has a good climate and only about forty nappies are needed to wash and wear.
The baby shops are full of Mothercare and other gadgets for children. But apart from a cot, many of the other things are not necessary, especially if the mother is around, along with other help. Then comes the time for the child to go to a Pre-school. Ideally, this should be at two years when the child shows a preference for playing with other children and the mother cannot control him. But the transition from mother to teacher must be gradual so that there is no crying when the child is forced to be with strangers in a new environment. The father can help by taking the child to school, giving the mother some much needed free time.
It is not necessary for the child to go to a prestigious big school. If the father and mother take decisions together, the child will be happy in a school close to home. Then the schoolgirl won’t spend hours cooped up in a van going to and from school. As the child grows, the parents can spend quality time with him or her. The father can spend half an hour in the evening talking to his daughter without watching television. He can simplify and talk of his office problems and she in turn can share her thoughts of her school friends.
When the children become teenagers, the parents must present a common front so they will not be manipulated. Gradually the family should become a team and share household chores together. A thirteen year- old boy or girl can sweep the house while a fourteen-year-old can have fun in the kitchen making hamburgers for dinner! A weekly family conference means problems can be aired and jealousies sorted out.
Do take time off your busy schedule to rethink your role as a mother or a father!
(Images courtesy internet)