I have come to terms with the realization that parenting is one of the hardest things. Google’s definition of good parenting “involves a great deal of consistency and routine, which gives children a sense of control”. Some people study up on parenting before they have kids. Some consciously deviate from what their own parents practiced. Some unconsciously play out exactly what their own parents did. And for some (may be most) it didn’t quite work.
The pandemic has somehow highlighted the importance, challenges and more importantly the urgency of fine parenting.
The importance of parenting vis-à-vis childcare is pivotal. No parent I know would play down the value of teaching in early childhood. It is believed that the acquisition of the right kind of knowledge, ability, skills and attitudes can bolster a healthy future. Hence, a lot of planning goes into constructing that perfect guidance to infuse what is moral and ethical.
To get a taste of that elusive morality one must in deed brave challenges which could, to a certain extent, make the strongest amongst mortals feeble.
One of the biggest dilemmas, I reckon, is the generation gap between parents and children. Or simply, differences in opinions. Leading to miscommunication and misunderstanding. The issue is amplified when parents are unable to effectively manage time. The time that does not only revolves around doling out good advice but, the time to be one with the child. It is somehow lost. It is lost to the fast paced life we lead; running from pillar to post to meet deadlines, to keep the job, to pay rent, bills and to save for an unforeseeable tomorrow (however, there can be valid reasons that are exceptional). Time may then dictate subsequent measures parents adopt to field the situation – maids, books, play station, a plethora of indoor games, television and of course a cell phone. It is then that a child is exposed to multiple input sources that could either make them or break them. And, then, time may also determine the effort employed.
Parent-child differences can play out exciting episodes that we’re all familiar with. But, what is striking is the lack of trust children develop toward their parents, conceiving a notion that they are way ahead of them. The know-all attitude that kids develop coupled with partial information and peer pressure could go a long way in determining the intensity of conflict between a parent and a child. This is most viewed as “the younger generation’s” point of view and, hence, problematic. But, what about issues that are more adult or even parent-centric. Issues which parents may not realize they exist or worse to not talk about them; because these issues are considered private, frivolous and even embarrassing for some. But, the bitter truth is that they do exist. Level of education, deliberate negligence, fear and ignorance are a few examples. Parents don’t seem to fully comprehend the vulnerability of children being totally misled and misguided. The need to intervene is overlooked and the fear of retaliation is holding back a lot of parents.
The resistance that kids manifest to adult supervision is almost cliché. Nevertheless, it is a domain that demands substantial and urgent attention.
In light of the ongoing pandemic, I reckon, home as the only moral space a child gets. Our schools have involuntarily been made redundant in sharing the responsibility. So, as a parent, if you feel the need to revive some self-discipline/self-restraint in a child, you need to start right where you are. Nobody is going to tell your child to keep a tab on their screen time but, you. Though the World Health Organization has officially recognized “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition, a child will not get off Mobile Legends and PUBG addiction, unless there is constant counseling and even reprimanding. Nobody will help them maneuver through all the temptations and toxicity that social media has to offer. They need a distraction, an alternative and a parent as the protagonist (not to suggest that children have absolutely no responsibility).
Parents’ intervention is the need of the hour. The solution lies in identifying popular needs and consistent limit setting. One may consider various approaches – authoritarian, authoritative, permissive or uninvolved however, a balanced approach of treading that thin line between letting go and holding back is imperative.
Well, it’s easier said than done (given the level of resistance children have unfortunately developed)! Parents who are at it will have a lot to tell.
Parenting in times like these is of the essence. Events surrounding a child can have an indelible impact on a child’s mind and actions. Hence, leaving a child to his/her own devices can be daunting. Therefore, an online cooking-baking lesson, music classes from an old teacher, Tara Books and make-up tutorials become all the more relevant.
Learning from my own family, I personally recommend that parents should create an atmosphere for the children to feel at home in their own home, to feel that sense of belonging and to reorient themselves to gain a better understanding of the current and emerging challenges without compromising on their own aspirations. It’s about that daily dosage of mutual collaboration and interaction that can make, for lack of a better term, a hell lot of difference. Try doing the dishes together perhaps.
It is time to probably look beyond the parents-know-best approach to a more practical and accommodating structure.
This to me is the “new normal”.
I suppose it’s not too late to pick up a new skill.
About the author: Aaron Ian Lyngdoh, former Fashion Adviser & Entertainment host (The India Today Group/WION) Aaron is from Shillong.