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Parenting, in this generation has changed leaps and bounds. Many of our parents might have said, “Pata hi nahi chala, tum kab bade ho gaye”. There were no parenting articles then, no do’s and don’ts, no self- help books and yet, most of us have turned out pretty ok, rather more than just ok. I agree, that there is a generation gap, times have changed, incomes have gone up, education has made us more aware and of course it is the internet age. While a lot of this has helped improve health, encouraged us to speak up about issues that were hidden, helped us fight taboos, what it has also done is made us parents very scared. We are always afraid for our children, their safety, their health. We want them to excel in every aspect of life, at the cost of our own sanity. Crime rate has gone alarmingly high and we are left with no choice to trust anyone, and our child’s security should be our top priority. But amidst all of this, we are hindering their natural growth process, we are aiding their thinking with an information overload, we are limiting their urge to explore, in short, we are raising machines instead of human children. If you are one of the below parents, it’s time to take a chill pill, stop, sit back and watch them flourish into beautiful human beings.
Afraid they will get hurt – Children love playing in open spaces, parks and in that process will hurt themselves. While it is ok to be around to avoid any major injuries, minor scratches, bruised knees, a bump here and there is something we all have grown up with. Do not run before they fall, do not warn them every two seconds. While you may have escaped one evening in the park with your child unhurt, your constant nagging has put the fear of falling down into their heads. They get trained not to explore the slide the other way round. Yes, they may seem well behaved children, but what they have become is very afraid children. They won’t know what it is to trip, fall and get up and continue to play. On rare occasions when they do trip, they will not know how to react. And if they do fall in your presence, do not run to them instantly. Instead, tell them that its ok to fall and get up. Overly showing concern will scare them even more.
Afraid they won’t come first – It is important to motivate children to do their best and nothing makes a parent prouder than watching their child excel. However, unnecessarily pressuring them to come first and excel in everything they do is not fair and logical. Each child is different and has unique talents. So the best you can do is enable them with resources but not hound them to be first each time. It is more important to teach them that it is perfectly alright not to come first each time. This way the child is not afraid of the parent’s reaction and failure.
Afraid their holiday homework / project will not be the best – I was on a hunt for a good playschool and daycare for my 3-year-old. I visited many schools and in most of them, I saw elaborate projects of Road Transport, Bus Station, Solar System etc on display. Intrigued, I asked many teachers what those models were for? Same answer, everywhere; “Oh, our children have made these!” I was shocked. Are they expecting me to believe that 3-5 year olds are capable of making such pretty elaborate models? Of course, these so called holiday homework assignments were either made by parents or professionally made (Yes! There are such facilities available like Holiday Homework specialists and Working Model makers). I was horrified and ran out each time I came across a school who expected parents to be hands on in the actual sense of the word. Mothers, stop doing your child’s homework! If you are worrying that the teacher will not give him/her the required attention, bring it up with the management instead of succumbing to their ridiculous demands. As parents, it is important to get involved in the child’s education, it is essential to help children, but the hand holding should not be to the extent of doing their homework yourself. Your child may get prizes but the learning is zilch.
Afraid they will not be all-rounders - Children as small as 3 have a life busier than some of us. I have a neighbor whose son is 4 and has tuition everyday, followed by arts and crafts classes and football and karate on alternate days. The mother is forever strutting in and out of the house, carrying his food, change of clothes so that he is taken care of while he goes on to turn into a genius. I quite lost it when she inquired to me if I was sending my daughter for skating class. Give those little ones a break! I know these are their learning years and it is important to keep children engaged; but free play is as important. Sometimes it is alright for children to do nothing, get bored and simply lounge around the house. In any case, a few years later, they will invariably go into the grind. Why are we so afraid of competition? I understand that we want to give our kids all the opportunities, maybe those that we probably did not get while growing up, but this constant fear that your child will lag behind is not helping them either. Your child might go to the class but anything not learnt whole-heartedly is a waste.
Afraid they will be loners or be bullied – I have seen parents push their children to make friends in the park, I have seen them compare their kids to others. Each child is different and special. Some are outgoing, some are shy. There is no harm if your child takes some time to open up and make friends. At times, the child wishes to play by itself. Also, let’s face it, children fight It is important to watch the children afar, but getting involved in each fight takes away the ability from the children to defend themselves. Parents taking on each other every time, will stop children from accepting their faults, bite their ego and apologize. You will be marveled at the way children make up and negotiate. Growing up with friends is a good lesson for them and it defines their character, hence do not interfere too much in this natural process. All the same, lookout for signs of incessant bullying and stand by the children if matters go out of hand. This will give your child the confidence that you will always be there for them.
Most of our folks weren’t helicopter parents, and we have turned out just fine. Each of us develops a niche hence we should allow our children to do so too. Let’s enable them and give them breathing space, sit back and watch them flourish into beautiful human beings.