Parenting Gen : Alpha

Parenting Generation Alpha

 

I may have only been a parent for a little under six years now, but with all the experience of being a hands-on parent who spends a large chunk of his time around his little kid, other parents (mostly mothers) and juggling school work and projects, I have come to this conclusion:

 

#Parenting has definitely become a lot more complicated these days, than what we’ve been told it is.Click To Tweet

 

Of course, I am conscious that there is no ready-to-devour guide to parenting or even managing little children, and that our parents and previous generation of moms and dads too have had their own ‘complex’ tales to add to this. But I suppose a lot of it is to do with the fact that the we are forever in a hurry for our kids to grow up.

 

We are all guilty of having done this at some point in our parenting journey. That ‘whispered’ (or sometimes, not!) wish of hoping that our kids would grow up soon. As a parent of a ‘still little’ kid, I can both understand and appreciate our ‘need’ and ‘urge’ for them to grow up and sort of be reasonably independent. [I use the phrase reasonably rather loosely, because no matter what we say, we still like to have some control over their lives. That’s rule 09 in the unwritten rules of parenting book].

 

I mean, having to answer a bunch load of questions when you want to go out or having the washroom door knocked on so many times that even Sheldon Cooper would find it tough to keep up are not really things that most parents look forward to nor are they in the best-selling parenting books either (which by the way, is a whole different topic). And do not even get me started on the unending ‘Whys’, ‘Are we there yet?’s and the fact that somehow, despite your very best efforts, your house almost always looks like a tornado snuck in, threw everything around and then magically disappeared. These are just a few of the things that could potentially cause even the strongest impersonation of your inner Monica Geller to quit. So, yes. I get it – there are moments when you really wish they were a little older so you didn’t have to deal with these.

 

But when did we become so obsessed as a society with the kids’ development that we are constantly pushing extra stuff on to them. Right from the ridiculously high-intensity worksheets they’re given even before they start school to ‘after school’ classes we sign them up for to the ‘new, improved and extra nutritious’ health drinks and supplements that we force feed them.

 

I agree – times have changed, and it is definitely a far cry from the time when “I am a Complan boy/girl” or ‘Boost is the secret of my energy’ were just catchy advertisement jingles and not seemingly-elitist differentiating factors in ‘how you bring up kids’.

 

I don’t live under a rock. So I understand that the average ‘cut off’ for all things, when it comes to kids, has increased. What was once considered ‘top of the class’ scores or marks are things that can make most kids (and arguably their parents) squirm these days. Yes, kids today are exposed to more things and information overload than the previous generations. And as someone who understands the need for evolution, I get it – it’s no longer the kind of world that we grew up in.

 

We can’t shy away from the possibility that perhaps the root cause of all this is the way our society is today. And whether you are a parent or not, we will have to take a large chunk of the blame for it. Because in many ways, either directly or indirectly, we’ve created the society and environment that they know today. That’s all they know. I remember when my parents would not mind me playing outside even at 9pm. But these days, we have become a lot more cautious. In fact, I hear parents in my enclave call out to kids even as the sun still self-debates if it’s time for him to set for the day. I’m nearing my mid-thirties and my mother still calls me to find out if I’ve reached home safely when it gets late. And by that, I mean 10pm.

 

Trust is no longer something we are familiar with. We have been trained, mostly due to our own experience, to view everything and everyone with suspicion and fear instead of a sense of wonderment and curiosity. And no longer does anyone do an activity for the fun of it. There’s always an agenda, an element of competition if you will. In fact, I’d say that parenting is just a few stops away from being considered a competitive Olympic sport. And this is what we filter down to our kids. I won’t deny it – I am guilty of it too. And like most of us, I too blame the world we live in today, even though we are all in some ways responsible for creating that world.

 

Unlike the period when we were kids (or times of yore, as kids of today refer to it), it is not going to be easy to keep kids away or shelter them from external influences.

 

But the trouble with it all seems to be that we are inherently pushing them to learn new things and understand new situations much more quickly than what they probably should at their age. And, that can’t be easy and what we fail to understand is that it sometimes takes its toll on these little munchkins. Especially because not everyone develops, understands or grows up at the same pace. And all of this leads to something that in effect is one of the cardinal sins when it comes to parenting – comparison.

 

Oh, I’ve been there too. In fact, no matter how much I may publicly proclaim to not be there, the truth is that on some level, there are times when I wonder if my son is a little slow than, say his, peers. The conscious part of the brain keeps telling me that what I’m doing is ridiculous and reiterates everything that I’ve always believed in and promised I wouldn’t do. But subconsciously, because I am as human as the rest of you, I find myself questioning if there is something that I am not doing enough of as a parent. And that fact that more and more kids these days seem to be overachievers doesn’t help alleviate any fears and unwanted thoughts that periodically crop up.

 

But of late, I’ve started to stop myself. Yes, some days are harder than the others. And yes, I still compare – but don’t play into the hands of those little seeds of self-doubt that inadvertently makes us all questions our decisions, judgements, choices and every little action.

 

But we must persist. For parenting is tough enough without letting useless comparisons make us feel like crap. And most of all, you owe it your kids. Being a kid these days, or Generation Alpha as they are called, is far more complicated that it was back in our days. And we can help by just letting them be kids a little longer.

 

There’s plenty of time for ‘life’ to beat them up with the club of harsh reality.

 


*Generation Alpha is apparently the new term coined for anyone born after 2010

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24 Comments

  1. Yes, kids today have exposed to more things and information overload than the previous generations. This is one of key reasons that parenting has become tough job. More importantly, we fear about the fact that if we don’t prepare them for this so called “competition”(Olympic sport as you said), they will be left behind. So apparently, parents are looking for parenting solutions to face the challenges of 21st century.

  2. That is an especially good written article. i will be able to take care to marker it and come back to find out further of your helpful data. many thanks for the post. i will be able to actually come back.

  3. May be I indeed live under a rock! Because comparison and pushing has never a part of my parenting style. Of course I have seen Parents doing it and we learn from other’s mistakes;)

    But with baby#2 on its way, I just hope I don’t get strangled within sibling comparisons.

    A wonderful write up!!

  4. Ah so Gy isn’t gen alpha 😉

    Parenting is tougher today. Let’s not forget social media bombardment as well in the list. Perfect kids et al make me feel if I will ever be a good enough parent. Gy attends one class, that too from home. She learns what she wants at her pace, basically because neither V nor I are the pushy type. But what we do insist on is some amount of hard work, whatever she takes up.

    Comparison will always exist, if not online, off it. Up to us to take the onus and ensure our kids come out feeling good about themselves. That’s in our hands.

    1. Haha! No she isn’t. Although, I’m sure we can find a phrase, if we dig through Google.

      Social Media bombardment – yes, they create a world of perfection, don’t they?

      Oh, well. We do our best.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Parenting Gen : AlphaMy Profile

  5. So true! Gen Alpha, I agree. But really, even if we want our children to just ‘be’ and not push them, the society (yes, the very same one you blame) doesn’t let them be! If parents decide to chill, no one lets us chill either. Expectations and comparisons are among parents more than they are among children. (Olympic sport :)) So yes, I agree with you. It’s tough being a parent today. But then again, what are we if not kickass parents? Right? So we ignore the society. We ignore the other parents and hopefully the child will learn this art soon too. And much sooner than we did – being the Alpha gen and all..what say? Plausible?

  6. New phrase this, ‘Gen Alpha’ for me! Thanks for introducing me to it. Obviously planning to flaunt it in my next tete a tetes gathering! Totally agree, it is a bigger challenge to raise even a single kid in these times of information overload, educational pitfalls, other parents’ opinions and ohh so much more! On top you have to keep hearing from the older gen, ‘We raised kids too, more than one with less than quarter your income!’ Hmmph!! Seriously challenging raising kids in today’s times. And as a fair warning let me tell you the road gets bumpier as they grow older! Meh! Cheers, don’t let them get better of you, you are bigger and smarter, keep telling yourself that!

    1. Haha! I found it quite accidentally actually – it was part of some research I was doing.
      Oh yes! The ‘older generation’ comments are nothing short of comparison too.
      Thanks for the support, Kala!
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Parenting Gen : AlphaMy Profile

  7. You see, its far more complex than we all actually know it. I am lucky that I live in a place, where my kids can run wild, literally, and play well after the sun sets. But here’s the catch. The school doesnt really want the same. Pressures in terms of evaluation, enormous amount of homework, a syllabus fit for bill gates!! I was recently told by my daughters class teacher that 1) her handwriting is untidy, and isnt able to write cursive 2) She cant add. And my kid is not yet 5.
    The solution given to me? An extra page of writing a day plus some extra sums!!!!!

    So even if as a parent I try not to be pushy and let them just be, the school just doesnt allow it!..

    1. I suppose it is – far more complex, as you say. A syllabus fit for Bill Gates – still giggling at that one. Even though, I’m certain it’s true.

      Oh, yes! I guess the schools are only interested in ‘balancing’ out the average.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Parenting Gen : AlphaMy Profile

  8. They are the alphas? Hmm..I wasn’t aware of that, but what does it even mean?

    Anyway, I agree the competition is crazy, but I guess, here in the US it’s not so bad. Of-course I can’t be sure, I possibly am too self-absorbed to even notice the Joneses, never mind keeping up with them.

    1. I reckon that it’s just another terminology – I guess they had to come up with something after the Gen-Z when they ran out of the alphabet 😛
      Yes, that’s one of the things I’ve come to understand and appreciate about that society. I reckon here, it’s a bit too much.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Parenting Gen : AlphaMy Profile

  9. Loved the part about parenting to be an olympic sport. That’s a witty comparison… And I totally agree. Even though I am not a parent I see the struggles. And I hear their worries about not doing enough. I believe that’s a common denominator among parents. Yes, our society is so competitive now. It hinders the child to grow their own personality, their likes and dislikes are dictated by social norms. How sad that is! I loved how you summed up the post. That last line is 👌👌

    1. Well, it is. And we should probably demand that it be recognised as one 😛
      Oh, all of us have those worries. And it’ll probably never go away.But as I say, sometimes we have to live and let live.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Parenting Gen : AlphaMy Profile

  10. They are called generation alpha? What are we then? Extinct Omega? 😀

    Parenting is something I have no experience in, yet, but I do know what not to do. Comparison in parenting or in just general life is not good. Unfortunately parents don’t get that. They lived through it, and they will subject their child to it too.

  11. Comparision is inevitable as even kids will pick upon it eventually even if we as parents do not do it.
    A kid will ask for things his friends have or do. Ingraining in them the pitfalls of comparison is crucial.

    Good going Sid.

  12. Wow, Sid! This is so well-written….I was glued till the last word. I hear you…In fact, I want my child to retain that childhood innocence as much as she can…it´s a tough call in today´s world. But she ain´t getting some of her answers from this Momma. I choose not to answer some of her questions not out of fear/embarrassment but out of a genuine concern of not letting childhood slip by too fast. Ive made peace with myself that she would be dumb when compared to her peers in some areas and that´s perfectly okay. It´s okay to be slow as long as the progress is steady. And, I think sometimes as parents, we need to play that balancing act between motivating them to challenge their limits and giving in to their genuine demand to slow down and smell the roses sometimes. If you ask me, I think all children must be exempted from any kind of competition and exams till the age of 10. But, thats just my wishful thinking. Sigh! Keep writing! Cheers!

  13. I’m now wondering when I stopped trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’ and their kids. Must have happened someday. But I can no longer remember when it happened.

    Somehow, it doesn’t occur to me to compare. Maybe I’m so busy being awfully proud of the brats that the whole comparison thing flies out of the window.

    Maybe I’ve learned how to be content. Who knows?

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