Honestly, I just need to take a breather before having to make yet another life-altering decision for my children, whether it is about sending them back to physical school or choosing online schooling. Or even making personal choices, be it working a few hours and including a yoga class in my already bustling routine. I usually don’t get affected by making decisions on a daily basis, but let me confess, parenting 2020 has been a different story altogether.
The thing is that with swift decision making, one needs to be ready to accept pay-offs. And I have learnt that in life decisions need not be perfect. They just need to be taken. I have followed that in my daily life, work, relationships and in parenting.
However, this year has posed some dilemmas to us as parents, some of which have been horrifying. Quick choices have had to be made, as they were time sensitive. Now that this disruptive year is coming to an end, I have been reflecting on the fact that this job of making decisions for the younger ones and negotiating choices with the older ones is not over just yet.
It is not easy to make decisions for children, especially since one needs to factor in collective tirades of the entire family and even the extended one. Also, there is the fear of falling short of the perfect decision. One worries that it might be something won’t be able to fix in the next 30 years.
This year, there has been a high societal pressure to do the safest thing possible not just for the kids but for the community as well, but I believe that the best decision is the one taken by parents. For example, some children will take the vaccine shot, while some won’t. The one who do, maybe allowed to mingle, have playdates and do physical classes, while all this may not be possible for those kids who don’t take the shot. This might make the latter feel left out. Both decisions will feel resulting emotions.
There are many ifs and buts that await us. So how are we going to do this?
I follow two simple things: first, that as a parent, I know my children and family best. I know their health conditions, priorities and habits, their strengths and vulnerabilities. My friends and relatives may have strong opinions about the choices I will make. I empathise with those, but also realise that they have a different story and journey to live and travel on. I know mine the best. While I am open to equipping myself with facts, as far as parenting is concerned, I like to be honest to what I know of myself and my family.
The second is that at no stage do I meddle with health, hygiene and hazards. This is where I dig my feet in, empowering myself with as much information as possible. Following experts, doctors, evidence, statistics and just factual information is my approach. This helps me sift through a lot of the mental back-and-forth, putting hearsay and comparisons to rest.
In fact allow me to add a third, I never forget that even In the messiest situations I like to keep it together and help my children see how we can try and simplify decisions. It is of utmost importance for me to show my children that decisions need to be made and that we can manage all consequences confidently and calmly.
That said, I could still use a breather before I dive into the next year of crucial decision making.
Shwetambara Sabharwal is a Mumbai based psychologist, psychotherapist and a mother of two.