Saturday 01 Oct 2016

Peanut Butter & Jelly
Rekha Tara

It was a great feeling for Jim and Chris Smith, as they expected someone, in short order. Happiness was obvious, with expectation. No, they were not waiting for some venerable guest or some loved friend; instead, they expected a new arrival; a child was coming.

As happy were the grandparents, but a marked difference existed. Jim and Chris were going to experience their first child. The grandparents and other older relatives knew how much responsibilities and worries accompanied the special event.

For Chris and Jim, it was a great joy and they eagerly expected their child to arrive. They were happy.

Their joy could be limited. Worries for parents begin the moment a child appears. Parents face multiple tasks when raising a child. This is no easy task. It involves food and drink, but also health care and safety of the child, as well as various related issues.

In fact, worries and parenting are much as are peanut butter and jelly: can you think of one without the other.

Dream realities turns out to be grim realities for many new parents when they think that their worries for the children are short lived; at best for a few initial years when the children is dependent on the parent for almost everything it needs. On the contrary, their worries might grow greater as the child ages. Over time, multiple influences come into play, none more important than the safety of the child.  

It happened to Chris and Jim as well.

For the initial few years, it was a mixed feeling. Seeing the tiny baby smiling or getting into its first act of walking, with tottering steps, is something everyone enjoys. At the same time, taking adequate care of the child including the related health issues was a daunting task. It’s the worst for first time parents, who lack adequate experience in child fostering as both Chris and Jim found out in their own ways.

Understanding what the child needs and taking action when she or he felt irritations from health or other problems was one of the demanding tasks for the new parents. Naturally, they're not to blame for having released a shy of relief seeing their child grow up and going to school.

Little did they realize that it was one phase of worry replacing another and the current one had even more potential in harming their loved one? School is not a heavenly abode, taking care of and protecting the child. On the contrary, child abuse in schools is turning out to be one of the greatest worries for parents as Jim and Chris found out to their chagrin.

Both parents would have done well having a look at the United States Justice Department statistics that is frightening to say the least. Imagine that one out of every four child is abused and often by another child. As well, over 40% of middle and high school students feel unsafe at school. The massive nature of the problem must be clear to any parent.

How can parents feel safe about their child, when sending them to schools? There's no chance, in this case. Such ideas and facts represent one side of the moon and there is another side as well.

A few days after the child started going to school, Jim and Chris observed a marked difference in how their child acted. He would remain glum and retreat into a corner when at home. Easily aggravated by small things, he might weep.

What was wrong?

Because of their lack of parental experience, Jim and Chris failed to realize that the child was suffering from insecurity problems. When a child feels unsafe, his or her home is the best abode giving protection in case, but if the child does not feel at home when he or she is in their home. Then problems are bound to surface. If that sacred abode is itself vulnerable or subject to abuse and unsafe, there is every possibility of the child being overwhelmed and reacting in a less than reasonable way.

Expressing parental love and affection and giving adequate time to the child is the responsibility of every parent, as Jim and Chris, and the sooner they realize this it is better for them. Children always best prefer one-on-one relationship and child of Chris and Jim were no exception to this. Fortunately, for Jim and Chris they were able to make timely intervention showing the child their parental affections and love giving protections and as the proverb goes; they lived happily together thereafter.

Bottom line of all these are simple. You cannot eliminate worry, for your children whether they are infant, toddlers or grown up kids. Worries for the parents are as peanut butter; that is, hardly separated.

Rekha Tara is based in India.

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