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:
[clickToTweet tweet="#Parenting has definitely become a lot more complicated these days than what we’ve been told it is." quote="#Parenting has definitely become a lot more complicated these days, than what we’ve been told it is." theme="style4"]
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.