Child Care: Parental Concerns and Anxieties


❖ Parental care: Don’t be obsessed with perfect baby care. The natural love and care that you give to your child is priceless and more important than knowing how to handle babies expertly. Some parents are over-conscientious and feei self-guilt about small things, because they take baby care too seriously and righteously. This impedes the natural parental care.

❖ Childcare is hard: Unless you are mentally prepared to go through the “grind” of child rearing, don’t go for a child immediately. The fact that you won’t trade places with a childless couple for the entire world doesn’t alter the basic fact that childcare is at best a lot of hard work and deprivation. As child rearing leaves parents exhausted and drained, they should “recharge their batteries”; i.e. take some quality time off from baby care and enjoy.

❖ Enjoy your baby: Parents are scared at the prospect of taking sole charge of a helpless baby for the first time. The overwhelmed parents push themselves too hard and feel only the burden of responsibility towards the baby rather than enjoying and playing with the child. Remember that the baby is born to be a reasonable and friendly human being. The best way to cope up with your child and enjoy him is to be open with your spouse about your feelings and laugh aloud at the child’s “silliness” together. Remember the child doesn’t do all this “silliness” to irritate you.

❖ Sex of the baby: Mothers in India are under a lot of pressure to deliver “preferentially” a male baby. The irony is that the mother nas nothing to do with the sex of the baby. The sex of the child depends upon the chromosome which the baby gets from the father, and not from the mother.

❖ A newborn though it looks so frail, is in fact a very strong and robust creature. Its defence mechanisms (immunity) are well developed to ward off the common infections.

❖ Parental expectations: Parents have high expectations from their children, wanting them to be “perfect.” All this puts a lot of pressure on the child who strives to live up to the expectations of his parents. Simply stating the high expectations of the parents are creating neurotic children.

❖ Working parents: Self-guilt particularly affects the mother. To overcome the feeling of guilt, the parents tend to be extra sensitive towards their child. Working or not working, the parents should shower that much love and attention as comes naturally to them. They should act like self-confidenj, firm parents without letting guilt complex bow them down. The child may plead for the mother to stay at home. This is a sensitive issue and should be tackled delicately. Don’t waver. Rather explain to the child, truthfully, why both of you must go to work. The caretaker (in your absence) should be affectionate and self-confident. Another very important aspect is the permanence of the caretaker.

“It is established that human beings are more valuable than all other living creatures – at least so human beings believe. The baby has interpreted this to believe that he is the centre of all activities and that everything has to be done to serve him and serve him alone.

The baby has been able to qualify this. For example while a kilo of chicken costs Rs. 100/-, for a newborn to put a kg of weight costs thousands of rupees. Decades later, they spend thousands more to get rid of that extra kilo of weight. There are regular visits to the child specialist only to be told that your child is doing fine.

The baby has laid down the rules of the game. He has a single objective. He must get what he wants when he wants it. He must be fed on demand. He also has only a single medium for effective communication, crying with varying intensities, cry, cry louder, and still louder.

After his arrival, my routine has been permanently altered. I am awakened at 2 am in the early morning and can go back to bed only several hours later, after Baba has been fed. A baby falls asleep immediately, while an adult takes varied time to go back to sleep, a thing which the baby is blissfully unaware of. When you then see him as a cherubic angel, no one will ever believe the trauma that he has caused only a short time ago – the acting and deception is perfect.

When everything is going on alright, The baby believes that it is time for a change that some variety should come in the otherwise mundane and routine life. Something must go wrong-otherwise people will get casual and complacent. He will thus get choked when the mother is not around and make you run to the grand mothers in the vicinity and in the neighbourhood, who you discover are useless, out of touch and depth to handle a 21st century child. And he is most unreliable when it comes to passing stool or urine, his bowel moves like the unpredictable stock exchange index.

But like the stars on the silver screen, you love him because of the suspense, excitement and entertainment he brings from day to day. Infact he is more like a TV serial with each day bringing a new episode.”

You are going to be a proud parent or already are one. Naturally you must be having some doubts and anxieties regarding your baby. The doctors and nurses must have given you instructions, sometimes complicated. On top of that is the advice, often conflicting, given by friends, relatives, neighbours etc (e.g. one may say give water to your baby another may say, don’t). My advice is to trust your common sense. The natural love and care that parents give to their child is a hundred times more valuable than their knowing how to handle their babies in an expert way.

Every time you pick your baby up, smile and cuddle, caress and hug her; and do small things for her (e.g. changing diapers, feeding etc.), even if you do it awkwardly and sometimes make a mess of it; gives a feeling to your baby that she belongs to you and that you belong to her. Nobody else in the world, however, expert he or she is in the art of baby care, can give that to her. So my recommendation is, don’t be obsessed with the idea of the perfect baby care. Instead trust your natural instincts because what good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually the best. It is better to be natural, than to do everything perfectly in a copybook manner. Aiming for ideal care will lead to a feeling of worry and anxiety about your performance as the ideal parents; and so take away the pleasure of enjoying your child.

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