First Do No Harm- The First Law Of Parenting

Saturdays With Shivani

Do you remember that moment when you became aware you’re going to be a parent? The exhilaration, the panic, the sense of responsibility all rolled in one— that isn’t something one forgets easily.

Once those seven-pound little people come into our lives, we tend to take our job seriously; a life depends on us after all. That is perfectly fine until we take it upon ourselves to perfect the ‘project’ that’s been handed over to us. We often project our own unfulfilled aspirations on them in a bid to live vicariously through them.

In my 13 years of parenthood, I might be guilty of occasionally having had these bouts. As I have stumbled and stuttered, I have figured out the pithiest definition of my job profile as a parent— curator.

Dictionary defines curator as the person who has the care and superintendence of something especiallyone in charge of a museum, zoo, or other place of exhibit. Of late it’s also used for persons who select acts/ pieces to showcase at art or music festivals.

The curator may not be an artist or a musician but has a good eye/ ear for the good stuff. Similarly, I do not know everything I might want my child to learn or know about but I can curate the experiences, the people she may meet and the exposures that might be helpful in that direction. As she is growing older, now she tells me what she wants to learn and my job is restricted to the research aspect of it.

I often say that children are a bundle of possibilities. Anticipate those possibilities and step back a little to see them work their magic. The ‘First do no harm’ dictum, that we hear in medicine practice, ought to be declared the first law of parenting. A little tweaking might be permissible; in fact, it’s almost mandatory but anything beyond that is not only unnecessary, it’s detrimental.

What is with us that makes us want to plunder something that’s unblemished, untouched and supremely pure. Let’s not try to modify them to suit our specifications. Children are a force of nature like the oceans and the waterfalls. We don’t plan to change their course; we marvel at them.

God created children so we could believe in Him but the way we mess with that perfection, one of these days he’s just going to call the whole arrangement off. So back off parents, shall we?

Dr. Shivani Salil

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