Guilt is part and parcel of parenting.

From treats to threats The evil things parents do to stay sane
Features Parenting Saturday, September 17, 2016 - 18:04

Parents are the most wonderful, self-sacrificing people in the world, always thinking about their child’s best interests and how much more they can give to make junior’s life prosperous. If you’re nodding in agreement, you probably think Karan Johar films are the last word in verisimilitude.

Most parents in the real world, though, are just ordinary mortals – stressed, tired, frustrated mortals – and mostly stumped about how to bring up a tiny person. And let’s admit it, most of them had no idea what they were in for when they signed up for the job.

There are reams online about parenting tips and tricks to manage it all, not to mention parenting books and guides that hit the market with frustrating regularity, all advising you on how best to bring up your child.  But it’s one thing to read the advice and quite another to live it every day. So not surprisingly, parents do a number of things that are not strictly kosher to survive the day.

Like Chennai-based Aparna Naveen, for instance, who lets her four-year-old daughter splash around in the bath whenever she wants to eat something on the sly.

And no, it’s not for the noble cause of keeping her child healthy. “I give her a chocolate if I want to get out of the house with my husband and spend time with him. I can’t eat dessert in peace without her pestering me for a bite, so I hide and eat,” she says.

Another thing Aparna loves is a nap in the afternoon, but nothing can get her daughter to like it too. So what’s the solution? “I put on videos on YouTube and let her watch when I’m catching up on sleep.”

Sidharth Balachandran, a stay-at-home dad, agrees that the TV-mobile phone-iPad is the holy trinity that most parents turn to for much-needed quiet time. And this is true even as you’ll find most of them enthusiastically sharing articles on social media on why Steve Jobs never gave his kids Apple products.

As Sheetal* from Bengaluru puts it, “Without any gadgets, I’d probably never be able to take a bath or pee for that matter.”

 

 

Then there’s the noise that kids love, but which no sane adult can take over and over again. So Mumbai-based Jaya Shravan takes out the batteries from her son’s favourite musical toys and pretends that they are broken.

“I can’t take the noise beyond a point,” she says. Even if that makes her sound like an evil mommy, Jaya thinks it’s a fabulous idea that helps her stay sane.

 

 

“How to get your child to sleep?” is another problem that haunts parents across continents. Sometimes, reading, storytelling, and lullabies just don’t cut it. Bobby Pullabhotla came up with a most unusual solution, guaranteed to raise more than a few eyebrows. “I pretended that there was a ghost in the next room to scare my son into sleeping,” says Bobby Pullabhotla. “I asked my mother to go to the next room and bang on the walls.”

Veena* and her husband, Shyam*, follow the scare-your-kid-to-sleep method too. “I lie down next to my son and close the door. My husband stands outside and barks. My son thinks a big, black dog has come and closes his eyes,” Veena laughs.

 

And of course, with the arrival of a baby, most couples’ sex lives are the first thing that goes for a toss. They don’t have the time or energy for it and even if they do, it’s impossible to get some privacy, what with the little one staring at them with bug eyes all the time.

Black Lace, who writes a sex column for a parenting website, recalls, “When my son was around 18 months old, I strapped him to the high chair, put ‘Peppa Pig’ on TV AND gave him an iPad to play with. This was so my husband and I could break our dry spell and have sex after a very long time. But barely had we started that he came knocking at our door, crying that he couldn’t see me!”

And so, she says, some couples might take an extra step they’re not very proud of. “I know a couple who gave their child Benadryl cough syrup to knock him out for an hour in the afternoon so they could have sex. He was sleepy but refusing to take a nap."

The couple in question co-slept with their four-year-old and he’d fall asleep very late every night. It was impossible for them to stay up. They had to break the dry spell somehow and well, Benadryl it was, Black Lace says.

Treats, threats, bribes and Benadryl are unlikely to feature as recommendations in any parenting manual. And most parents know they can’t be quick-fixes for every occasion. But sometimes, these shortcuts help them stay sane through the most difficult parts of raising a child. Even if the tradeoff is a whole lot of guilt and worry over it.

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