Kal, aaj aur kal

Parenting has undergone a sea of changes over the years. Today’s parents behave differently from the previous generations due to changes in environment – social, external and internal. Here are some ways in which I feel parenting has evolved –

  1. Indulging in free play – When we were kids, our parents didn’t enrol us in as many activities as we do now for our kids. But that’s simply because the environment around was safer and kids could play freely in neighbourhood parks. Today we are reluctant to send younger kids alone anywhere out of sight given the circumstances. Fear trumps freedom nowadays. Hence, the need arises for organized activities and hobby classes. Again, providing a mix of both is ideal but depends on one’s environment.
  2. Role of technology – Perhaps the most obvious changes between today and previous generations are the technological advances made, particularly in fields of communication. It’s now easier to keep in touch with teachers, your children and family members who live far away. Also, more information is now easily accessible to parents than ever before. With the increases in fast, convenient communication, however, come some negatives. It leads to a decrease in face-to-face communication, whereby children seem to have difficulty holding a conversation with people because they’re too used to texting and gaming without in-person conversations. However, we need to balance this out – learning from elders – by unplugging the electronic devices, sitting down and connecting emotionally and talking with our children and people around us.
  3. Raise the baby on your own – Our parents were able to raise their children without keeping a nanny but in most cases reason was that they had joint families to help out where required. For us, with nuclear families and both parents working, it is tougher to manage all aspects and we require help with the house or baby.
  4. Vacation spent with family – Earlier every vacation used to be spent at grandparents or relative’s houses, especially if they were in a different city. However, shrinking world has now made possible vacations all over the world. This leads to greater exposure for the children but possibly less time with grandparents.
  5. Find brothers from another mother – In today’s set up, with most families set up as nuclear ones, there may be a sense of finding companionship outside. While the adults still manage to cope up, children find it difficult. Especially in the case of one child families, children may seek companions. What I feel is that cousins can fill that gap. Earlier when each family had 2-3 kids or cousins living in the same house there was not much need to be connected with other kids but now it’s increasingly important. Additionally they develop stronger and lasting friendships as a result.
  6. More independence – Parents now have more independence thanks to nuclear family scenarios. They are able to listen to inputs from others and at the same time, have the freedom to choose to implement or not. Also they may have best of both worlds with hands on parents and experienced grandparents. Unlike parents earlier who were burdened with numerous advice and not much scope to validate most of it.

While these differences are eminent, we should recognize the changes in external environment and mind-sets across generations. In years past, parents were more concerned with raising non-self-centred, obedient children – whereas today, there’s a stronger emphasis on building a child’s autonomy, self-esteem and individuality. There’s no better or worse way. It’s simply the need of the hour!

This article was first published on Momspresso (erstwhile mycity4kids).

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