Being a mum, my conversations often end up being about my five-year-old.
This is perhaps true of most mums. In fact, I tend to do veer off into discussing my child even when the conversation centres around the topic of love, and conversations about love are not in short supply with Valentine’s Day coming up.
Children are keen observers and an overwhelming majority of what they learn is through observation. Their developing brains are like a sponge, working constantly to learn more about the world and the way it works.
Very early in life, children must establish a belief about the world and what is “Normal”.
“Normal” is what happens every day. “Normal” refers to what is recognised, not as odd, but as something that is recurring and predictable.
Children try to re-create what is “normal” as they build their lives. ‘Normal’ says life as it should be.
If you grew up in India, I bet your ‘normal’ will be completely different than to that of a child raised in London.
For Indian migrant mums in the UK, it is perhaps all too confusing or difficult to discard the conventions they were taught growing up in India.
Our minds are constantly conditioned from a very young age – even something as simple as embracing in public is wrong (even with your parent/husband/partner).
I remember, my grandmother who never used to talk in front of her husband, let alone have a discussion about love!
My mother was only marginally better – she could talk to my father, but a public embrace or show of love was never seen them embrace or show love at each other.
Public displays of affection is a taboo in most parts of our country outside the metros but fortunately things are getting better.
Some friends of mine tend to follow the same in the UK which, leads to a lot of confusion in the child’s mind.
What does my child see when my husband and I relate to one another? Is it loving and warm? Is it icy and dismissive? Is it caring and kind? Or is it an argumentative relationship?
Do we just make use of Valentine’s Day like any other holiday or just embrace it showing love for each other?
I know a few friends with grown up daughters or sons who are already having discussions about “finding the right person”.
These conversations take place without consideration to the fact that the daughter or son may have made up his/her mind long ago about what choice he/she will make in a partner – opinions formed by watching how his/her parents treated each other.
So this Valentines Day, think of your little ones.
Instead of making Valentine’s day just a day to exchange flowers and cards, make the extra effort to show them the kind of relation you want for them.
Show them respect. Show them that love is something that transcends the superfluous and can overcome the thick as well as the thin.
Show them the value of kindness and appreciation. Show them that Valentine’s Day is about love and ensure that that love is the “Normal”.
I know how the average five-year-old will react to a kiss between a husband and a wife – “Yuck!” is perhaps the most popular response!
However, see affection between you and your partner will ensure that your child too becomes a more loving and caring person who will seek out the same qualities in his or her partner.
Valentine’s Day need not be a big celebration with expensive gifts and even more lavish gifts.
To be honest, it cannot be the same thing after marriage and children. Marriage, kids alter dynamics significantly.
But the fundamentals remain the same. And the simpler things become the most profound.
A rose and a hug goes a long way. Making them “normal” will make it even more important.