20 July 2019 02:01 AM

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RASHMI OBEROI | 16 SEPTEMBER, 2016

The Dilemma of a Parent


‘Good Parenting’ is no piece of cake and more so as a single parent. Balancing both the roles is tough and one is often torn between being too strict or too casual while playing the protagonist. Of course, a draconian attitude will get you nowhere and may only cause grief. Every generation sees changes, some good, some bad and some absolutely terrible. During our childhood we listened, we obeyed, we understood and we never questioned. We were naughty but that still carried an air of innocence in it.

Our bedtime was 8pm on any given day and maybe a half hour extra on very rare occasions and that was a treat for sure. We were either read to, by our parents before bed-time or we read a story book till we drifted off to sleep. I did the same with my kids...inculcating the importance of reading side by side. Of course I was told by my offspring that they were the only ones in school who had a bed-time. My reply: “I am not interested in what the rest do...this is how it works in our house.” And well, they understood and followed it religiously. Unfortunately, reading is a dying art now and parents today need to understand the importance of introducing it very early in their children’s lives.

Our parents entertained a great deal, but those days, children were to be seen and not heard...to be seen for just for a few minutes to wish everyone in the party and thereafter not be ‘heard’. No wailing, no hysterics, no tantrums or being a disaster that led to causing unending tension to the host and hostess. Spoilt brats can turn a house upside-down with their antics...the poor hostess usually ending up in tears and the parents instead of controlling their kids, enjoying their shenanigans without a care in the world. Absolutely disturbing scenario and it takes a great amount of will power from my end to stop myself from getting up and giving such kids a dressing down.

Most parents have no control over their kids these days. I am not talking about following a dictator style regime or using corporal punishment but about bringing up kids the right way. It is sad but children these days are badly brought up...lacking in manners and general etiquette or even basic courtesies. Gone are the days when we used to greet our elders in deference.

I notice parents at their wit’s end at airports and railway stations... Is it possible that the kids are more hyper these days or more unmanageable? Where are we going wrong? I travelled alone with 2 babies and a dog most times and I don’t remember facing issues like this at all....and even cranky kids and tantrums were out of the question. I have travelled with an infant in my lap and a toddler playing with his jigsaw puzzles in the next seat and never did I see them wailing or screaming or flinging food at each other. Yes, I understand there are ‘working’ parents now but if your kids are going to grow up without supervision...then really at what cost!!!

Of course, as they step into their teens, one naturally eases up on the restrictions... At this stage they are old enough to know right from wrong and that they are responsible for decisions they take on their own. Taking stock of a situation, owning up, taking responsibility, and learning from past mistakes is all part of the process. So how come it is going a little haywire these days?

Over the years, what has gone wrong? Is it to do with busy career-oriented parents, an increase in dysfunctional family systems, and inappropriate input from television/internet or over-indulgence and a steady decline in value systems? Children are let loose into the society with vulgar amounts of pocket money. My son’s constant complaint is that he gets the lowest amount of pocked money per month. I am shocked by the amounts his friends get...it is absolutely irrational. No wonder you have teenagers going out of control and indulging in excessive drinking/drugs/uncouth and senseless behaviour. How can parents not control their children’s bizarre spending habits beats me? Are they buying their kids love and affection by doling out huge amounts of cash to them? Disastrous if you ask me.

Adolescents face immense peer pressure and this in turn moulds the young impressionable mind. Peer conformity in respect to style, taste, appearance, ideology and values are an intrinsic part of growing up. Peer pressure can either be positive or negative but unfortunately, leaning more towards the perilous these days. Children are under constant pressure to be a part of the ‘elite’ group. They either need to be at level with them or at a slightly higher notch. If you are not, you get left behind. Children are handed over the latest gadgets...gizmos...fast cars...fast lives...club memberships...et al. A recipe for disaster.

Kids don’t seem to have a ‘curfew time’ either...are there no parents checking on them if they are even remotely late... Surprising isn’t it? Are parents not worried if their child doesn’t return home on time? Our ‘breed’ of parents seems to be dying...we are few and far between.

‘Good Parenting’ is all about giving our children a warm and secure home and at the same time helping them tread their own path...so important in developing self-esteem in the young. It is vital to realise the meaning of the words...to share...to respect...to understand. Love, encouragement and praise go a long way in shaping up the kids today.

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