It is important for parents to explain the meaning and importance of freedom to their children. And, it has to be done at the right time and in the right manner. Parenting differs from parent to parent and, hence, it depends on when they want to talk to their children about freedom.
Parents are apprehensive when it comes to giving freedom to children. So, along with freedom, we also need to talk to them about responsibility. I feel both — freedom and responsibility — are two sides of the same coin. Hence, to enjoy the privileges of freedom, as parents we should also draw boundaries and set rules. It should be done at an age they would comprehend the concept of freedom.
Where my daughter was concerned, I gave her the necessary freedom to, for example, choose her friends. But, I also explained to her not to cave into peer pressure or get carried away by what her friends said or did. Communication is the key here. I kept talking to her in the beginning and kept telling her to be wise and not always listen to her friends. Parents need to give their children the freedom to make up their minds and make their own decisions. But, at the same time, as parents, we should guide them so that they don’t misuse their freedom.
A typical question that arises is how to teach responsibility to children along with giving them freedom. The answer lies in striking a balance. Instead of nagging them all the time over a task they might not have finished, allow them the freedom to do it at their own pace. And, if they are not able to accomplish it, don’t punish or shout at them. Instead, talk to them and guide them.
Setting a time or deadline for children is important — whether it’s a daily chore or going out with friends (for older children). I remember my parents used to give me a deadline when I used to go out of the house and I never misused it and came back home on the said time. I never misused my freedom, even when I went abroad to study. And, I give that credit to my parents because they were always guiding me, talking to me, which made a huge difference.
Give children the freedom to do everything, but at the same time keep an eye on how they are using it. If you trust your child, you are giving freedom to your child at the same time. You need to guide your children and talk to them, which is important. This will in turn increase your trust in them and vice-versa. This is also a kind of freedom to give children — space to develop their sense of victory, achievement, and accomplishment.
Do not over-parent, just be there on the sidelines to lend a helping hand when you feel your child is going on the wrong track. Parents always feel their children need them 24x7, however, they also need the freedom to evolve on their own, experience life on their own, and grow up.
With Independence Day around the corner, a lesson in freedom becomes all the more topical and imperative.
(Riddhima Kapoor Sahni is a jewellery designer, and daughter of veteran actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor)