When my bundle of joy arrived six years back, everyone thought it would be a walk in the park for me, given the fact that I am a medical doctor. Well, it wasn't! Every day brought new experiences and new surprises shocks. When Baby S cried incessantly at night for no comprehensible reason, my husband looked at me with hopeful eyes but I had no clue. Feeding...check. Burping....check. Changing...check. Anti-colic...check. She was still crying, stopping only when rocked in lap!
Concluding that something was wrong with either my child or me, I went to the Pediatrician with my husband. She laughed and said something that actually made sense.
'Your baby is fine. You are too. Maybe she just wants to play and be carried around. Her clock doesn't work like ours. Parenting is not an absolute instinct. Every child is unique and so is the experience of parenting for every parent. Don't worry, you will learn.'
That is when I realised that they teach us milestones and ailments in Pediatrics in medical school but they don't teach us how to bring up a child. All medical knowledge and experience flies out of the window within a week of becoming a mother. But it is okay I guess. The journey of being a parent starts with the baby's entry into the world. Both parents and baby need time to understand each other. Parenting is not a God-gifted talent. It is a skill you learn once you become a parent, gradually and with a lot of effort. Many trials and errors later, you understand what style of parenting works for you and your child.

There are many schools of thought on parenting styles. It is good to go through them but as I said, parenting is unique for every parent and child. You cannot generalise and there is no single style that works best. I have had my share of experimentation and now after six years of parenting, I have come to the conclusion that 'buddy parenting' works the best for my daughter and me.
Bollywood movies always show army officers as moustache-bearing authoritarian fathers. My friends therefore feel that my husband must be too. That is so not true. Discipline runs in fauji families but Army officers make excellent fathers who are more of a friend than an authoritative figure. My husband always believed in 'buddy parenting' though I didn't at first. I thought it would make us lose authority as parents. What if our daughter stopped respecting us if we became too permissive? Maybe my husband was overcompensating his absence by this, I thought. My doubts were not ill-founded but as I observed over time, it is all about creating a healthy balance. Buddy parenting does not mean letting go of your child....it just means giving your child sufficient freedom.
It does not mean you start acting like a friend your child's age....it means your child sees a friend in his parents and is not hesitant to share anything.
It does not mean you don't teach your child anything....it simply means you show it to your child instead of lecturing on it.
Now we both believe that though it is our duty to teach our daughter as parents the rights and wrongs in life, yet it does not mean we need to turn into instructors for doing so. The best way to teach a child any value to enact it. After all, parents are a child's biggest role models.
I believe that instead of always holding her hand to teach her how to tread the path of life, it would be way better if I encouraged her to walk on her own, instilling in her the confidence that I will be there to catch her if she falls.
'Buddy parenting' is all about empowering your child so that she becomes fearless and her spirit dauntless. My daughter is always encouraged to take part in activities, in school as well as Army socials, so that she feels no awkward shyness.
Despite of being a single child, she doesn't lack company as both her parents are always there to play with her, whether it is styling her Barbies or playing golf with her plastic golf set. I believe it creates a bond where she trusts us and shall never feel the distance or gap of generation between us.
The night time is when she gets exclusive time with her dad who reads out stories to her as she goes to sleep. Often she is the one making up a story and narrating it to him.
My munchkin is very fond of cooking and watches a lot of food channels. She also insists on applying the knowledge inside the kitchen. Last week, we both baked a tiny cupcake using a recipe from her book. The smile on her face was worth the ruckus she created in the kitchen.
Her chocolava!

She also loves rolling out amoeba shaped chapatis for her father. Some people may feel that it is too early to let her work in the kitchen but I think it is okay once-in-a-while as long as she is under supervision. Creative satiety is very important for a child.
She is also a gadget freak but then nowadays every child is. She is better at using the various settings of the camera in my mobile and laptop than me and can download games from playstore in a jiffy. I recently got my mother a smartphone which she found difficult to use and later turned to her grand daughter for help who was more than happy to oblige.
We even painted the wall of her room together. Not bad,eh?
My daughter's room!

Being a friend to my child has turned her in to a confident person who trusts her parents. She has a mind of her own but is not stubborn. Sharing with her some experiences of my childhood when she is upset, makes her realise that she is not alone...One day when she failed to complete her work in class and was a little low-spirited, I told her it was okay. She instantaneously asked if I had ever done the same as a little girl and when I answered in affirmation, she was alright. That is the beauty of being your child's friend.
It is fun to have tea with her in her tiny tea set, to be able to play 'princess' with her and her countless Barbie dolls...it is like reliving my own childhood. I believe in letting her be her age. I overlook her little follies, don't believe in telling her to 'grow up' and want her to enjoy these years of childhood she has. I don't know about you but I miss mine badly.
I know that I run the risk of her taking too much for granted. That is why I keep telling her through examples and stories the values she must believe in. While driving the car, I teach her the traffic rules and basic sense of civility by performing them myself before her. I don't lie to her or anyone in front of her. It is difficult yes, but you get used to it.
My daughter and I have a lot of fun activities together, so much so that in order to get her to start eating cereal, I got similar bowls with straws for both of us. (They are so very convenient to serve your child cereal and milk in.)

A lot of parents may disagree with my style of parenting but it is what I truly believe in. It is the only way to ensure 'Khuljaye bachpan' i.e to liberate the childhood inside every child. Children grow up too fast I believe and we don't even realise it till we lose it. Celebrating childhood creates numerous 'Khushi ke pal' that turn into cherished memories for you and your child for ever. I am creating a lot of them for my daughter and myself for sure. Are you?
After all, they say

A happy childhood lasts forever!

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