Love them or hate them....
"Behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is getting it all wrong", they say. True, parenting is a game of 'wait and watch.' There is no right or wrong here; or nothing that is a sure fire success mantra. Everyone has a different take on on how they wish to raise their young ones. And it is the choices that parents make that impact their children majorly.
A recent Washington Post article, said today's parents are much too hard on themselves. The article talks about how today's parents are more involved and take a scientific approach to parenting.
The article is worth a mention because it is no surprise that parents today are censured for over-protecting their children and making things easy for them, for spoiling their children silly by being too easy and pally with them which is thought to raise children who are used to having their way and growing up with utter disregard to other people and circumstances. Parents are also criticized for being over involved and too demanding of their children; and raising selfish, psychologically fragile children who, with all the pampering they receive, are ill-prepared for the real world. From the snide "we never did this to you when you were young!" to being termed as control freaks, 'helicopter parents' or 'bulldozer parents' they are scrutinized and judged for their parenting styles.This article therefore comes as a surprising respite and seems like a a fresh take on why this may not be all that bad.
Child development and environment
It is said that the developing brain practically "wires itself" to the environment in which grows. A growing child, therefore, is the most influenced by its surrounding environment. And one of the most influential factors in this environment is the parents, who are the closest to the child.
In India, we have predominantly had the joint family system where the child was practically raised by more people than one could count. True to the adage "it takes a village to raise a child," the children in joint families thrived on what they saw, heard and learnt from their numerous family members. Somewhere, this variety helped give them a glimpse into the real world. It prepared them for the different people they would encounter when they grew up and how they would deal with them.
Impact of changes in environment on growing children and parents
Gradually though, the 'nuclear family' began to take root in our culture when work took people away from their family homes. People with young families took up responsibilities and made choices that were unlike any in joint families. Young parents suddenly found that they had a major say in how and what they wanted to make of their little bundles of joy.
However, in addition to assuming total control, they also had the total responsibility for their children's upbringing. While some parents folded under this pressure, others took it up as a challenge to raise responsible and independent children. They vowed to raise their children with love and ensured that they were respected as parents, not feared. They understood the importance of appreciation of positive behavior and used criticism sparingly. They took lessons from their own experiences and strove to give their children all that they felt was good and nice and positive.
'A bit too much'
What was being thought of as diligent parenting, however, started getting really serious for some parents. While most went easy on their children, many parents started getting a bit too involved. From helping them with simple tasks to actually doing their jobs for them, these parents started dictating almost every aspect of their children's lives. Age-old beliefs were not good enough anymore, they started looking for things that were better than the accepted best. It was not just enough to have a child that performed well at school, it became imperative that the child be an all-rounder - excel in academics as well as extra-curricular activities. The healthy idea of exposing children to various activities to gauge their interests turned into cramming various activity classes into their timetable, leaving them barely any time to play and enjoy the outdoors.
All that these well-meaning parents did though, didn't necessarily help the children all the time. Used to having enjoyed a bit of healthy neglect in joint families, children found themselves subject to intense scrutiny by their parents at all times now. They had to answer for how much screen time they got, who their friends were, why they were home on a day they should have been at some activity class.......and to top it all, they lost out on the exposure they got to the different personalities in case of joint families.
More harm than help.....or was it really ?
The over involvement and excessive demanding gave rise to the wide - spread criticism of parents who were said to be doing so much for their children that they were causing more harm than helping their children.But the Washington Post article puts a new spin on this criticism and how! It is good to see that someone at least acknowledges the efforts that these so called over involved parents put in.
For all their controlling nature and extreme involvement in their children's lives, these parents are just looking out for their children the only way they know how to. They are looking for ways to help their children grow into the best that they can be. It can get a bit overbearing for children sometimes, but then what parenting is not? Instead of accepting and blindly going along age-old practices, today's parents are looking for proven ways to raise better equipped and confident children who would be able to deal with whatever life threw at them. From vaccines to playschools, from books to extra-curricular activities, these parents are willing to put in the effort and look at the pros and cons of anything and everything their child does. Isn't that a good thing? These are self-made parents who are a whole lot more involved in their children's lives. Yes, they may have better financial and other resources available to them today; but they are also showing the will to invest a lot more than mere finances in their children.
Love them or hate them.....
Call them patronizing, bulldozer parents, helicopter parents or simple plain control freaks, the fact remains that parents today are involved in raising well-mannered, tough and most importantly, happy children. They are criticized by one and all; and yet, they stand firm so that their children are independent and smart enough to face the world when the time comes.Their parenting styles may be different, may not be conventional....but they are doing the best they can...and only time will tell how successful they turn out to be!