Updated: Mar 20
We have often heard parents saying kids have lost their innocence. Parenting has become complicated and harder than it was when we were growing up.
But what differs the upbringing of GenZ kids from the way we were raised? The answer might shock you. It is ‘We, the Parents’. We have complicated our children’s life. We are the prime reason our kids are losing their innocence at a very early age.
And ‘No’, I am not judging anyone’s parenting here. We all are trying to do what’s best for our child/children. But the question is, at what price?
Our life was simple because we invented our own little joys. Our problems revolved around lost toys and best friend fights because we were never told about or shown the ugly side of our parent’s relationship. We saw the unison with which they shared and carried their responsibilities. We had our share of ups and downs, but we also had our parents to hold on to us in times of distress.
Technology had also only started to boom and the computers and mobiles were not a luxury back in those days. Children had no access to cell phones and only the landline was available to make calls, that too under time restrictions.
It was customary to introduce our friends before we went out with them, even if it was for a group study or tuitions. So our parents were aware of the company we kept.
Times have changed and so has our parenting. We have evolved with technology. But the growing need to make ends meet in the fast-expanding world has forced both partners to work. It has further increased the gap between parents and children, as kids are forced to spend a lot of time with housemaids or at day care centers. We, as parents, have settled as providers than nurturers.
How many of us have slowed down to know about our child’s likes, dislikes, meet their friends often, understand their food choices or watch their favorite cartoon/movie with them?
We are usually half present when we are with our kids. Our minds are working double shift with work pressure, phone calls, Facebook, WhatsApp pinging and other social media updates. We have failed our children by giving into everyday distractions.
The kids have also devised ways to gain their parent's attention. Sadly, we mistake their cries and aggression for seeking attention than probing the reason for their behavior. We assume we know everything about our child. But do we?
Remember, even 2 years old is smart enough to understand manipulation and 10 years old is also fearful enough to hide things that may be bothering him/her.
Let's understand the 7 main reasons why raising kids in today’s world has become hard and complicated, in spite of our best parenting efforts, and how can we avoid the pitfalls.
1) Family size has reduced from birthing many kids to just have one child or two children. Parents tend to pamper their child with a notion who are we earning for! A thought to ponder here is, give your child a comfortable life, but make them wise enough to face any situation they may find themselves in. Teach them the importance of saving money while educating them to spend wisely.
Time will never be the same. So, spoil your child with your time and love than spoiling them with expensive gifts.
2) It is good to be ambitious but there is a heavy price we pay for our power-hunger. In nearly 80% of the families, with both parents working, kids seldom get daily quality time with them. Most of the caregivers are maid or nannies.
Spending less time with kids on a daily basis can be emotionally damaging for them, thus increasing the gap between you and your child.
Coordinate with your partner and divide days with each of you taking work from home or opt for a job with flexible work hours. This will not only help you reduce your work stress, but also give ample time to bond with your child.
3) Children learn more by watching our actions. Sooner than you realize they will have mastered the art of manipulation. Thus, in front of your child, never oppose your partner's decision.
If your spouse has given him/her time-out for bad behavior or has decided not to serve his/her favorite snack, be considerate enough to second their resolve.
This will give your child a clear signal that he/she cannot use or manipulate you two against each other. Play as a team when it is for the benefit of your kid(s).
4) Be wise enough to differentiate between your child’s cry for empathy and his/her need for attention. Throwing tantrums or creating a mountain of a mole is often a sign of seeking attention. Be wary! If you give up once you will be caught in a web of guilt each time you fail to feed your child’s demands.
If they are not destructive to themselves or others, do not give in to their pressure. Hold your ground. Soon they will understand your intention and will learn their lesson fast.
Seek immediate medical help if your child shows signs of deleterious behavior.
But if your child is emotionally distressed, he/she may become too aggressive (with no materialistic demands), rebel or silent (not their usual self). This is the time they need your love, care and support.
Talk to them and assure them you are around whenever they are ready to discuss what is disturbing them. Be a patient listener when they approach you. They may not be looking for advice or judgement. All they may want is to share their feelings. Just be present uninterrupted.
5) Boredom today is seldom seen as an opportunity for creativity. It is observed as a void in a child’s life that has to be filled with television, phones, tabs, video games, anything that can keep their mind busy throughout the day and we are less troubled.
But we forget it is essentially important for a child to feel bored too. Give them the right tools, such as books, canvas and colors, toys, board games, creative writing exercises, modelling clay, craft supplies etc. when they come to you saying ‘Mom, dad, I am bored’.
Join them in the fun. Make a card, draw, paint, play, cook or read their favorite storybook. This will ease their anxiousness and train them to think out of the box when they are in a similar situation again.
Give up on your urge to lend them your phone or tab or switching on their favorite TV show. Believe me, you will be doing your child huge favor!
6) We all want our baby to look beautiful/handsome. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The point here is, are we setting the right standards of what beauty is all about? Are we more concerned about enhancing their physical beauty than teaching them the value of inner beauty too? Are we brand conscious and passing the same to our child? Are we more worried about their skin color and complexion than we are worried about how they treat others?
Every time you wish to flaunt your kid as a trophy child, stop and introspect for a moment. Invest in building their character than investing in expensive wardrobe and accessories. They will cherish these things only for some time, but will remember the lessons learnt from you for life.
7) Who wouldn’t like to be famous? All the more when it is your little star shining on television's popular reality show or is a YouTube sensation, you feel like a proud parent; the kinds who don’t stop their child from achieving anything possible under the sun. Think again! What is the price your child has paid to reach that level of popularity? You took away his/her innocence.
The entertainment industry seems all happening from a distance, but it has its own perks and jerks. Kids are exposed to all sorts of people, language, and situations. In haste to reach stardom kids mature much before they age.
Be aware, the grass will always seem greener on the other side. As a parent, it is our responsibility to save our kids from the ugly face of society.
In the lust for proving your child’s expertise to the world do not be a participant in the rat race to fame. Hone their talent and wait for the time they are age appropriate ready to embark on their journey of success.
Nobody can slow the speed at which the mechanical world is advancing. But, we, the parents, behold the power to complicate or simply the life and future of our children - by setting good standards and imparting empathetic values, by choosing our family over work, by opting to spend quantity time with our kids and less time with our phones, by allowing our kids the freedom to grow at their own pace, by letting our kids make mistakes, by letting them fail at some things, by celebrating our children for being them.
All we have to do is become an example. But the big question remains, are we ready to bring the change?