Am I a parent ? No.
Then how can I comment on parenting? Well – to be honest if you look at it from a bit afar, it gives me an unbiased perspective since I am not a part of the ‘system’.
I have (and I am quite sure a lot of you) have seen unruly children (except yours of course) around you these days and their numbers are increasing with each passing day. If you ask me what the problem with children these days? Two words – ” Their Parents”.
Just look at the personal time the present generation of parents spend with their wards and compare it with their own parents. We have started to treat our children as a vehicle to achieve our own ambitions which remain unfulfilled. So the time we spend with our wards is almost 100% towards building their careers – helping them with their homework or helping them with their studies. Compare this with your own parents – yes they did help us with our studies, but at the same time we spent a substantial amount of time everyday just chilling out with them – may be discussing about our hobbies (from as ‘weird’ as collecting match boxes to bus tickets to train tickets to postage stamps collection to what not).
But you might want to argue – we also participate in their hobbies like learning to sing, dance or swim or playing cricket or football. But ask yourself – are these really ‘hobbies’ ? Will allow your child to simply walk out of one of these one fine morning? Would it be OK if your child says one morning – “You know what mom, I don’t want to learn singing any more, so I wont be going to my classes from today” ? No that’s not going to happen, let’s be honest. And there lies the difference between and a hobby and an extra curricular activity. You could have decided one fine morning that “You know what, I don’t want to keep on collecting postage stamps” and everybody would have been OK with it.
Do you remember – how as a child we just went to play in ground – for the fun of it. With ‘friends’ whom we did not even knew. How we made new friends every week in the play grounds? Yes – there may have been problems, there may be mixing with some ‘bad boys’ – but has it affected your growing up as a human being? Think about it. Today we send our wards only to ‘coaching centers’. Their happiness in ‘playing’ depends on where they ranked on the competition.
I still remember – how my father would encourage simple joys in our life. We had a small garden with our quarters in a small town in UP. My father who was an avid lover of flowering plants would give me a small plot in the garden to plant my own plants. It started all the way from ploughing the plot to blooming. The joy we got when the flowers bloomed in our nurtured plants is priceless. How many of you remember how we used to pick ‘Sheuli flower’ around Durga Puja – the smell of freshly fallen flowers?
Sadly our wards are missing all these and we are the one to be blamed for this. I know a lot of it is not possible today – but still a lot is possible. But sadly we have lost our way in parenting – building their career from the day they are born. Parenting is not about ‘producing’ a successful child, it is about building a human with a childhood with all hues of childhood.
These days we find a lot of children hooked to mobile / tablet / computers/ Television and we blame technology for it. But pause and think for a moment – are they to be blamed or should we blame ourselves? Do you remember your childhood? In the afternoon if you tried to watch TV – your mother would tell you to shut the damn TV and get out of the house and play. But today – we want our children to be inside home, in front of our eyes except during the time they are in school or in one or other coaching center. At the same time, we are too tired / too occupied to give them time, as an alternative we ourselves push them to TV/ Electronic gadgets. To give a justification for our lack of time for our own children, we have found one of the most dangerous path – not saying no to our children, or worse saying it in a apologetic manner. They can simply get away with whatever they demand. This is creating a very dangerous psychological problem in the children, they are not getting accustomed to hear a firm no – which most of them suffer for the rest of their life.
We are creating a generation of self centered human beings, whose decisions are solely dependent on exposure. You might argue that they are much more concerned about the world than we ever were. Let me put this in the perspective –
If you remember your childhood – when you were given an Amul Milk Chocolate – it was general tendency (may be out of awkwardness) to offer a piece of it to everyone in your home. But today, if you give your ward 10 Cadbury chocolates, it is extremely unlikely that he is going to offer a single bite to even his/ her parents. Forget about joint families with 10 members. And we even encourage such behaviour by admiring how smart he/she is about his/her rights of possession. So, now do you think the concerns they show about global warming/ natural disasters have any real value?
Am I a parent ? No.