The Challenges Of Unselfish Parenting

We cap­ture every pos­si­ble pic­ture and video of our chil­dren today. We cap­ture the audio of the first sounds our child makes. We cap­ture the video of the first time our baby begins to crawl, and the first time our baby stands, and the first time our child walks.

We accu­mu­late all such mem­o­ries so that when our child grows up, he/she can see and expe­ri­ence his/her child­hood in all its glo­ry.

We grew up in a time when such con­tin­u­ous record­ing of moments and their accu­mu­la­tion was not pos­si­ble. So we do our best to do what was not pos­si­ble dur­ing our child­hood.

At the same time, we dis­pose of our own child­hood pho­tographs casu­al­ly, as we don’t think they are rel­e­vant any­more. We dis­pose of our school mem­o­ra­bil­ia, the whole class pho­tographs, the now-sil­ly-look­ing cer­tifi­cates of our extra-cur­ric­u­lar achieve­ment, etc.

We let go of our child­hood because we are now focused on our child.

Let us take a step back here.

Did we not try to explore our par­ents’ child­hood? After see­ing a few pic­tures of our par­ents’ as kids, did we not thirst for more? Did we see any pic­tures of our par­ents in school? How many of us have seen cer­tifi­cates of scholas­tic or extra-cur­ric­u­lar achieve­ments of our par­ents? Wouldn’t we like to?

There was a point in time when our par­ents dis­posed of such mem­o­ra­bil­ia, because they thought their kids’ lives were more impor­tant than their own.

This is exact­ly the same prac­tice we repeat, gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion. And every par­ent thinks he/she is being com­plete­ly unselfish and devot­ed to the kid(s) when doing so.

In fact, it is the oppo­site.

As par­ents, we are not unselfish­ly con­sid­er­ing what our child would con­sid­er impor­tant after he/she grows up. We are mak­ing deci­sions our­selves, in antic­i­pa­tion, with assump­tions, because we think we know what is best for our child. We are not being gen­er­ous enough to let our child have the free­dom to explore mem­o­ra­bil­ia of our own lives.

While think­ing to our­selves that we are being the epit­o­me of unselfish­ness in our parental mind­set, we are actu­al­ly being the most self­ish of all.

The parental par­a­digm is con­trar­i­an to the indi­vid­u­al­ism mind­set. It is often devi­ous enough that as par­ents we think we are act­ing in the best inter­est of our child as an indi­vid­ual. It is often wise to relin­quish the parental par­a­digm and rethink.

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