Monday, February 01, 2010

On Parenting............

There are times when I feel glad that my role as a parent has taken a back seat and I no longer have to worry about my children’s education or career. I’ve done my bit and can afford to play computer games while listening to carnatic music. Parenting rules seem to have changed drastically and what applies to one set of parents need not work in the case of others. Was it so earlier, I wonder? The Hindustan Times devoted a full page on parenting techniques and has my head reeling. Are my daughters who are currently raising kids having it tough or is this the scenario in Asian countries I wonder. Somehow the pressure in India seems endemic and self-imposed.

When I was growing up our mothers were there to see to it that we sat with our books for an hour or two before dinner and once dinner was ready we packed up and no one bothered if our home - work was half done or undone. Teaching us was the teacher’s job and they really put their heart and soul into it and drilled and filled our minds with the basics of each subject so much so even the average and below average students had a fair grasp of the subject. The school did not interview parents or bothered if the parents were qualified enough to teach their children. Teachers praised or punished the children according to their performance and it was usually taken as part of school life.

These day teachers are scared to say anything to an errant student. For all you know the child may run away or jump into the nearest water body and the teacher would be blamed. Are parents in a better position? I am afraid not. They fall flat at the child’s feet and give in to every whim. The explanation is that their parents lacked the means and could not afford to indulge them. But by God’s grace they are better placed and of what use was money if the child’s demands could not be fulfilled? The child grows up believing that he/she has a right to make atrocious demands and cannot take ‘no’ for an answer. Psychologists say that suicide rates among teenagers are on the rise. Like teachers, parents too are scared to impose rules on their children. The slightest rebuke or an occasional corrective measure cannot be handled by children and they feel depressed over issues that those of my generation would have ignored or accepted as idiosyncrasies of the previous generation. We would have had mimicry sessions and laughed our lungs out in private but certainly did not contemplate drastic measures like running away from home or committing suicide. We faced stiff competition even at home and grew up to be a tough lot.

Having said this do I have any solutions to offer? I do.

Parents should be able to draw a line and not try to fulfill every demand of the child even if they have the means. This leads to unhealthy competition in society that is detrimental to its progress.

Every household should have certain rules that have to be obeyed however distasteful it may be to growing children. They may sulk and pout but will understand in the long run.

Parents and teachers should interact and communicate regularly since both have a role in shaping a child’s life. Their role should be complementary and positive.

Children should be allowed to grow at their own pace and to indulge in hobbies of their own interest and choice. Appreciation of the child’s sincere effort even if it does not translate into top ranking levels would go a long way in boosting a child’s confidence.

However much one loves his/her child it should be made clear to the child that there can be no compromise on responsible behavior and basic etiquette. Regular and open communication helps and the child should be allowed to give his/her side of the story in case of unacceptable behavior.

Lastly, the child should be made to understand that there are several other children who are less privileged but they do not give up easily. Rather they work harder to reach the goal that those better off achieve easily. When I say less privileged I mean financial, physical as well as mental setbacks.

However, as I mentioned in my last post, each situation is unique and every parent/child equation different. Becoming a parent is easy but being one is not. You may ask if I practised what I now preach. I had it easy because I lacked the means. It is tough on the current generation of parents who have to make hard decisions. Good luck to each one of you and God bless your families.


Ugich Konitari said...


You know I could have written the second paragraph myself ! Its exactly the story of my school days ....

Wonderful post. And I am so glad you wrote about responsibilities of todays parents. The saddest case I have seen in a nearby school is that of parents having no time, and the teacher having no capacity, and the school getting a half baked "counsellor" who ended up informing the parents that their child was heading for a depression ! (I know the family well, the child was an excellent sportsman and not at all depressed, just asking for attention. But this could have traumatised everyone. Today schools think they can wash their hands off after hiring a counsellor.) You know the best counsellors in our times were our parents and teachers.....

Choxbox said...

excellent tips!

Smitha said...

I so agree with everything you say. I have seen this happen with so many parents in my generation. They want to give their children 'all that they never had'. And in the process end up spoiling their children and not be in a position to discipline them when required.

All the points that you have listed are a must for every parent -especially in the materialistically competitive environment that we are in today. A post after my heart

hillgrandmom said...

Oftentimes the parents give in to their children out of a guilt feeling--they don't have enough time to spend with their child, so they give material gifts. But that can never, never ever make up for the parents' physical presence

Indy said...

Oh you have given such valid points! I have hopefully been able to not give in to every whim mainly becos I did not have the means to, but then I know I still have to teach them to take better care of their things ,which is a point of friction! Sigh! Love your blog!

R's Mom said...

HHG, thanks for a wonderful post....these tips would be really great for me to raise my child....whatever you have mentioned is common knowledge but unfortunately no one seems to be practising it around us...I hope to follow this as I raise R :):) Thanks

starry eyed said...

Very relevant to me these days. I guess the balance is to avoid being a helicopter parent while still being there for the child, physically, emotionally and mentally! Financially is so last on the list, but many parents keep it first :(

Can't remember if I have commented before. I love what you write.

Hip Grandma said...

Ugich:'Today schools think they can wash their hands off after hiring a counsellor.) You know the best counsellors in our times were our parents and teachers.....'

Well said! as for counsellors, my daughter went for career counsellin when she was around 13 years of age. They advised her to take Arts where as it was evident that she had a flair for Science particularly Chemistry. Ofcourse she was too young and did not take their advise seriously. But one dooes not expect consellors who charge a fee say such things. My daughter was never an Arts person but what made them suggest this is something I never understood.

chox box:Thanks.i hope I didn't bore you.

smitha:I had a senior colleague who was listing all the things she wanted to give her daughter as dowry. I asked her if the girl got everything that she needed as dowry what would she do with all the money she earned as a doctor?Would she treat at least a few patients for free?It is important to encourage children to work for whatever they wish to have. As young children they should be encouraged to do their own work rather than having the father polish shoes and the mother ironing their clothes.This will help them understand that work is worship.

hillg'mom:Material gifts lose their charm when given too easily and children can easily understand that they are being indulged in out of guilt and they'll simply make one dance to their tune!

Indy:Not having the means is a boon in its own way. My son asked for a motor bike when he was in college. I said 'sorry son' and was glad that i had only enough money to educate him. It is not only the question of buying a bike.who could afford to worry about paying for petrol and maintainance?

R's mom:It is easy for me to preach but difficult to practise. But as I've mentioned in earlier posts you young moms of the 21st century are really super moms.I am sure you will come out in flying colors.

starry eyed;welcome here.You haven't commented at least not as far as I remember but I've read your comments elsewhere.Parenting is becoming difficult by the day,what with distractions like compuer games and the like. difficult to monitor the children's activities and more difficult to let them be!What I said to R's mom applies to you too.

WhatsInAName said...

Wonderful post and so apt in present times. Being a parent of current times, I can so relate to all that you have written. I have tried my best to follow the advices you have given here. And yet, I keep getting scared looking at the extra exposure my girls are getting. The media, the internet, these are too influential.
I wait for the day you are in right now :)

Hip Grandma said...

Whatsinaname:You are right. The exposure children get these days makes it all the more difficult to decide where to draw the line. But it is also true that parents lead by example and children generally tend to stick to their expectation despite an outward show of rebellion.Don't fret, your girls will be fine.

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