Ever heard of Inapproriate Parenting?
"These children have parents yet feel orphaned" screamed a headline in the newspaper and I skipped a beat! When I read on, I found that the info in the article was not so much surprising as it was shocking!
The article spoke about young children seeking psychiatric help from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans). In majority of cases they evaluated, it was found that parents used inappropriate styles of parenting when it came to raising their children. And this was attributed to the recent trend across the country where working professionals found it difficult to provide effective parenting to their children.
With an increasing number of career oriented professionals in big cities choosing to work full-time, children are left at home almost all day, either alone or with maids in most cases. The decline in the number of joint-families has not helped the situation either; and thus, more and more children are being treated for psychological disorders day by day. Psychiatrists believe that parents' not spending quality time with children affects the child's temperament and could also lead to substance abuse, psychological disorders and even suicidal behaviour.
As I said, the information was not so much surprising as it was shocking. We all know that in homes where both parents work full-time, it is definitely a stretch to expect them to spend quality time with children. It is also no surprise that it is not right to expect educated and talented men and women to quit their jobs and spend time at home, just because they now have a child! Plus, from financial necessity to psychological satisfaction, there are several reasons why people choose to work. In the end, to each, his own, isn't it? Who are we to judge why someone does what they do? Agreed. But when their behaviour starts affecting their children psychologically, I guess it is time to see about that in a little more detail. Judgemental or not, a teenager seeking psychiatric help or finding solace in drugs (or worse) definitely begs a consideration as to where things have gone so horribly wrong!
Having said that, it does not help merely pointing fingers and finding a problem. What is needed is for us to find solutions that can help tackle the problem before it becomes a serious issue that affects an entire generation. Of course, the solutions are never going to be easy. But hey, we are parents, right? We are not concerned with the ease of solutions, so much as the need for them and their value! So what is it then, that parents can do to make the situation better? No, I am not saying we should all quit our jobs right away, (although that won't hurt;) but we do need to take a look at the actual time that we do have on hand and work towards how we can spend it with our children in such a way that makes them feel loved and wanted.
In fact, a small note in the article itself mentions a few pointers for parents to follow; and here I have taken the liberty to elaborate on them:
1) Accept children as individuals
As children, everyone is expected to listen to their parents. When the child grows up, however, he/she starts to assert their independence. And when they become parents themselves, they expect their children to follow the path of their choice. Why not, we were always told what to do, right? So why shouldn't we tell our children? Very few people stop to think about this, and accept their children as the individuals they are. A child can have traits of either the father or the mother, after all; a combination that makes them unique! But as parents, if we fail to recognise this individuality, we are only inviting trouble as children grow.
2) Listen to children, give them the time they deserve
As children, many of us have grown in joint families or families where fathers or elder family members were off-limits to us. Where our friends and confidants were our cousins or even our mothers. How many of us really remember someone asking us for an opinion as children? We were mostly raised with what is today termed as a 'healthy neglect.' True. But today, things are changing. Our children do not grow up in joint families. There are very few cousins or even friends that they can call their confidants. Who will these children then look up to for company? Is it wrong if they expect parents to listen to them? Not just hear what they say, but really listen and act on it?
3) Appreciate them when they do or say something good
Have you noticed that most people we meet, have a bunch of things to complain about? It could be something as trivial as inconvenient traffic to something as serious as a bad day at work, but people complain. They complain because they feel they are wronged; because they feel unappreciated! Now imagine, if as adults, we expect to be appreciated all the time, is it wrong for a child to feel the same? Is it not important that children too get their due appreciation when they do or say something good and nice? By not appreciating them when it is necessary to, we only end up making them think that no matter what they do, it is never good enough. Is that what we really what our children thinking growing up?
4) Spend quality time with children
Time is one commodity that keeps getting lesser and lesser on hand as people progress in life and stature. In fact, the more important someone's job is, the lesser time they have to spare. It is good and important for everyone to have ambitions; but it is also important to balance them with quality time spent with children. Children do not ask too much. They just ask you to cuddle with them first few minutes after waking up, or hug them as they get to sleep. They just ask you to concentrate on what they are saying for just a few minutes as their own attention is going to wander in a few minutes anyway! They want to know you will be by their side, even if it is only for a few minutes, when they really need you, that's all. Is that too much to ask?
5) And finally, be a good role model for children
This one, I agree, is easier said than done. But hey, no one said parenting was going to be easy! We all want our children to grow into confident, important, amazing individuals; but how many of us are really role models for them in this regard? Truth is children may or may not listen to what you say, but they are definitely watching what you do; and modelling their behaviouir on that. So then what better way there is, of raising positive, tolerant, confident, successful, loving and caring individuals than being one ourselves?
Articles such as the one mentioned in this post, tell us that it is about time we had a reality check. They present shocking facts; but at the same time let us know that now is the time to take a re-look at our parenting style. Such articles urge us to question our ways and methods and to ask ourselves, are we parenting our children appropriately?