As someone who grew up in a joint family, I always wondered what it would be like to have been a “normal” family with one Mother, one Father, and one me. As my father chose to leave a couple of months before I was born and went to settle in the US, never to return (to us) I did not find out.
When I was old enough to be aware, and some inner turmoil later, I decided joint families are best. I chose to be happy with what I had. And what a family! In spite of all the ups and downs, the overall feeling when I think of my family is happiness. I can’t help smiling and as I continue to recall incidents, it is downright laughter. So many joyous moments. So much love! I was lucky to have four doting uncles, an aunt, a grandma, and a Mom around me as I grew up.
If I were to pinpoint one thing about our family – it would be the tendency for good feelings. Oh yes, we are human and freak out like everyone else…but you know what they say – blood is thicker than water – and it is the truth as far as our family is concerned.
Strong families are fueled by these good feelings and positive emotions. Not saying we don’t resort to emotional blackmail or criticism at times, we do; but it is all very good-natured. No matter what, we can’t see each other unhappy.
One thing that has always stood out for me with my folks is the generosity with food and compliments. Nobody leaves our house without sharing a meal. And if someone accomplishes something, however minor, the shower of compliments is guaranteed. More so if they are children.
“A compliment is verbal sunshine” – Robert Orben
A foundation like that is pretty hard to shake and my Mom always reminded us to make sure that a mean comment or criticism is enveloped in at least three compliments. That sounds like good Math to me!
How to balance the compliment criticism ratio as a parent
I grew up in a joint family where love was abundant (even if the money wasn’t) . I always feel wonderful recalling that no matter what, children were never yelled at. That takes some superhuman-ness – but that’s how it was.
Ours was a matriarchal family, with my Grandmother as the head and what she said was usually never up for argument. Not that anyone wanted to, but she always gave logical and great advice and everyone was happy. She always emphasized going easy on the criticism. Instead, we were encouraged to encourage others for the same.
In today’s hectic lifestyle where everyone is rushing everywhere, how easy is it to stay cool?
How to maintain that compliment criticism ratio?
Here are things that have worked for me – and it helped because I grew up in an environment where everyone practiced it.
It must always begin with us as parents. Making an effort to feel good about ourselves is the basic starting point. When we practice being affectionate and speaking with kindness, we become role models for our children. Children notice what we do more than what we say and a general aura of harmony promotes happiness.
Think before you speak
During that morning rush, or when you are busy with something, it is so easy to yell with frustration. But, take a deep breath. Say what you want to say – in your mind. Reflect on how it sounds. Nobody likes that negativity – so squash the urge to make that negative comment. If you have something nice to say, though, go ahead and say it. Negative words kill self-esteem. Positive words boost it. Oh, I know how tough it is to control oneself. But I am getting there.
Recognize the power of language
This follows from the point above – and is about teaching children the power of language. Just as we must reflect before we utter, the same goes for children…expect they need us to tell them, especially when they talk back. I remember, if I spoke aggressively, my Mom would immediately say, “Oh! When you sound like that I get so scared”. I swear I would immediately feel a little sheepish. And rephrase. Situation diffused. Lesson learned. Unless we are aware, we can’t see.
For every negative, two positives
Discipline is an essential part of life, like it or not. Each time you have to practice discipline, follow up with some good words. And make sure your child practices this. It is a wonderful habit that pays big dividends. Be generous and praise others whenever the situation demands it.
Release the negativity
Don’t bottle up. Don’t let it build up. It fosters ill will. Instead, make it a habit to vent out. Even if it doesn’t sound nice, letting it all out once and for all helps clear the air and strengthens the relationships. Be ready to forgive and apologize. There is no shame in saying “sorry’. It is not hard. And teach your children to do the same.
The important thing to remember is it all begins with us as parents. Being positive and nurturing good feelings keeps you healthy and stress-free.
Question for you:
Do you believe in balancing the compliment criticism ratio?
What do you recommend?