When you are living in a city or country away from your home you can sometimes not be comfortable with the new environment. You were brought up in a certain way at home, in a known and comfortable setting and when you move to a new city for better prospects it is important to familiarise yourself with the ways of the place.
In the first Parent Meet Up I had organised recently, I met a mother who was filled with anxiety about her daughter joining middle school. On speaking to her at length I discovered that as a child she had a very sheltered environment with her siblings and extended family. She had moved for the first time away from her hometown and as she was raising her children in a new place she kept comparing their current environment to where and how she was raised.
She was anxious about what the child would be exposed to in school? How could she keep her away from the foreign values that were not part of her upbringing? How would she address problems of attraction and intimacy to her daughter? How would she talk to her about staying focused on her academics and not stray due to issues surrounding body image? How could she teach her daughter to stand up to negative peer pressure and not be swayed by the demands of others?
Her list of fears were endless, of course all stemming from love and concern. She wanted me to coach her daughter and prepare her for all the hurdles she envisaged for her.
But it was she who needed coaching to manage this fear-based approach. Yes, I did understand them and how the vast difference in the culture and the environment she was raising her child in. However as parents you need to be able to empower your child with the right life skills so that they can make the right decisions no matter where they are – school, university or even work place. Loving your child is not equivalent to keeping them sheltered from the reality they live in.
You cannot map parenting children in the current environment on how you were raised thirty years ago. Parents have the tendency to compare their own childhood with those of their child – this is an obsolete discussion that very honestly only serves to amuse your child and does not affect them in anyway because they cannot visualise your past.
You cannot create a fortress made of imaginary fears you want to protect her from around your child. Focus your attention on helping your child develop self confidence and self esteem so that they take decisions based on what is good for them and not be swayed by undue peer pressure. Do not parent them from a place of fear and create suspicion in their minds, instead empower your child with family values and positive beliefs so that no matter what the environment they stay rooted to their core.