As an Indian Mom, for the last 16 years I have had a program running inside me. It’s taken over my life, sometimes to the point of making it unmanageable.
I have had to fight against this program every moment of the day to make sure it doesn’t rule my life and my child’s life. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. I accept it as the win some, lose some principle.
The “Indian Mom Program” is a master program that runs a whole lot of little programs or modules. The problem is that all these modules are impossible to uninstall.
All we can do is write and install a new program to override the old ones. Here are some of the modules that come installed with the Indian Mom program and how to override them.
1. The ‘Feed Your Child’ Program
This is probably true for moms all over the world, who believe that their kids will starve to death without them. And it’s probably true when your kids are newborns or under the age of 12. Or if you live in a place like Somalia.
This module is installed when your child is born, and you (and your breasts) are their only source of nourishment. Unfortunately, this module tends to take over our lives, so that, even when our kids are teenagers who can serve themselves a meal, we’re still running behind them saying, “Baba, you’re looking so thin. I made your favourite meal today. Please eat some.”
And then you sit there, glowing in pride that you’re still providing your 30 something child with food that they could have made for themselves. “Oh how wonderful that she’s eating something,” we think. “She would never have taken it for herself.”
Until a little voice says, “That’s because she has you to follow her around stuffing her face, you dolt. If it weren’t for you, she would be cooking and serving her own meals.”
So how do you override this module of your programming? You need to install the “Let Your Child Eat By Herself” module. As this is a very hard to find program, especially for Indian Moms, it requires a lot of digging into your own resources of self-control and discipline to find it.
Also, install the “Don’t Fall For The Whining” program just to make sure you can resist those complaints when your spoiled, enabled, overfed children realize they have to get off the couch and serve themselves.
2. The ‘Overprotect Your Child’ Program
This is a program that both moms and dads have installed. Sometimes it takes over one parent’s life more than the other’s. Again, this is a module installed when our kids are babies, crawling around, touching everything, putting everything in their mouths.
When they’re small it plays an important role, because they don’t yet have the knowledge not to put their little fingers into an open electrical socket or know they shouldn’t eat that bar of soap.
But when your child is well into their teens and you won’t let them go out with friends, take a rickshaw to school by themselves, or go camping with their school mates, then the program has outlived its usefulness and needs to go.
To do this, you need to install the “Let Your Child Get a Scrape Or Two” program, that allows you to let your child explore and experience life without you getting a heart attack.
Resist the temptation to uninstall this program the next time your child has to go to meet her friends or go camping without you. Give her the freedom to learn to ask for help and find her own way in the big, bad world out there.
3. The ‘Make Your Child Totally Dependent On You’ Program
For moms whose entire lives revolve around the home and kids, this is a very, very hard program to override. Mostly because their self-esteem comes from being President and CEO of the company called “My Kid’s Life.” They want to believe that, were it not for them, the kids would collapse into a helpless, shivering heap that need to be rescued from every situation.
This is an especially hard program to override mainly because many moms are not motivated to do it, and don’t have an alternative to being the “be all and end all” of their children’s lives.
To override this program, you need to install two very important programs that every parent needs:
The “Get a Life” Program
This module ensures that you, as a parent, find fulfillment outside your family and your kid’s lives. It will motivate you to get a hobby, a career, new friends, a business to run. Anything but chase after your kids constantly, overseeing every aspect of their lives. And seeing you go after your dreams will teach your kids that their goals and dreams are important too.
The “Healthy Self-Esteem” Program
Moms who live for their kids are lacking in a very important part of any person’s makeup – a healthy self-esteem. Installing this module will help you value yourself more, so that you no longer allow yourself to be a slave to your family’s whims and fancies.
The benefit of getting a healthy self-esteem is that it will make you a better role-model for your kids, teach your kids to value themselves, and show them how to create healthy self-esteem for themselves.
4. The ‘Don’t Let Your Child Fail’ Program
Indian parents are so paranoid about their kids failing in life. It’s a program that was installed in our own childhoods, when a failure in school or any other aspect of life, such as losing your job, was seen as shameful.
As a result we don’t allow our kids to try new things, explore new careers that they might be better suited to, and instead push them into “tried and tested” fields or MBAs, never mind if it’s not what they have a passion for.
But, if you read about any successful entrepreneur or achiever, you’ll learn that their lives were riddled with failure. And that sometimes those failures were the best things that happened to them, because they used them to learn lessons that ultimately helped them succeed.
To get over the aversion of allowing your child to fail, you need to get over your own aversion to failure and start seeing it as a learning process and a stepping stone to success.
Installing the “Failure Is The Best Thing That Can Happen To You” module will help you and your child let go of shame, and take pride in trying out something new, whether or not you succeed at it.
5. The ‘Don’t Let Your Child Be Herself’ Program
As parents, we see our kids as extensions of ourselves – little beings who are there to fulfill our own unfulfilled goals and dreams. But your child is an individual, with her own personality, dreams and goals. She may see herself as very different from you and your upbringing.
She may see herself as atheist, non-political, vegan, gay, transgender, Goth or something that you could never imagine being. The fact is that your child is not here to fulfill your dreams and fantasies of being a parent.
Your child is here to be the fullest expression of herself, her goals, her dreams, her personality and individuality. And it’s not up to you to prevent her from doing that.
To override this module, that was installed in us by our own parents, you need to install the “Learn to Let Go” module. It will help you let go of your expectations from your child, and will allow you to make peace with her choices. After all, what most parents want for their kids is for them to be happy.
I hope that installing these programs will help you override the “Indian Mom Program” and that you and your child have a wonderful relationship. If you have any of your own tips to share, please do so in the comments below.
© Priya Florence Shah
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