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Parents don’t have to make every moment into a teachable moment and blow away happiness.

I was watching a parent read a bedtime story to a child. The child was enjoying the moment as the parent read the story with a lot of involvement and explained the meaning of some words along. Once the story ended, the parent got down to the ‘teaching mode’.

“Now tell me all the new words that you learned today”, “What is the meaning of this word?” When the child could not answer, it was followed by, “How can you forget so soon? I told you the meaning ten minutes back”. The child was in a tense mood unable to perform to the expectations of the parent and on top of that her body was itching for sleep.

What was a joyous moment of storytelling and listening to the story moments ago was converted into a dull ‘teachable’ moment by the parent. The joy had been blown away.

The need to be a teacher all the time has overwhelmed a lot of parents. They think every moment should be used to teach the child something, else they are failing as a parent.

I have seen parents taking their children to a park and then making them identify all the leaf shapes, identify the botanical name of the plants etc. Can’t children go to a park and have fun without ‘learning’ something?

A child cannot ask for some money from the dad without receiving lessons on finance - interest rate, inflation, the value of money, cost of capital, the importance of working hard for money and so on.

Why does every moment have to be a teachable moment? Why can’t the simple joy of storytelling, visiting new places, cooking, daily chores, be just that. By converting every moment into a teachable moment, we are taking away the joy of doing simple things without it becoming some sort of performance measure. Everything does not have to be ‘useful’ in some way. Enjoying the sunset by itself is fine without educating the child about the distance of the sun from the earth, the temperature on the sun, the solar system etc. Looking at the night sky for the pleasure of it does not have to be corrupted by a lesson in astrophysics. There is a different time and place for learning.

I think parenting can be more joyous and relaxed if parents stop being teachers 24x7. The children too wold enjoy the company of the parents without dreading some kind of parental exam pressure.

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