Indispire is discussing the following question, “Parenting is a difficult task today. Our generation had a different set of parents. Today parents are more involved with their kids. What do you think?”
I think this complex topic involves two sets of questions, (i) are parents of today different from those came before them, and (ii) are parents of today more engaged with their kids?
Parenting is and has always been a difficult task, be it now or in earlier days. A parent is contributing towards building the next generation for the nation. It is important to have clarity what type of citizen a parent is interested in making – a good human being or a successful human being. A good human being needs strength of character built on ability to discern right from the wrong. A successful human do not necessarily have to be discerning, as long as he can see his interest getting fulfilled.
Whatever one may want their child to be, it was easier to obtain compliance in earlier times. If nothing worked, a spanking was not frowned upon. In fact a saying went like this, “spare the rod and spoil the child.” These days, children have become more aware and assertive. Unless one can explain to them the basis of certain action, it is difficult to elicit compliance. Beating a child has become a taboo in the social circle I move in.
Coming to the question of involvement of parents, I think it may be difficult to generalize. In a vast country like India, there will always be different types of people. One may find parents who are much friendly, open and liberal with their children compared to others who tend to be more reserved and conservative. There were parents in the decades of fifties to eighties who were aware of socio economic realities and emerging opportunities. These people immigrated to greener countries like USA, UK, Canada, Australia so that they can give a better future to their kids. On the other, there were many other parents who were not even aware such a possibility existed and never explored.
With time society is changing. Nowadays, parents are more aware of possibilities available to their children compared to their parents. Thanks to explosion of information. Earlier, there were not many TV channels, let alone 24/7 TV channels, not as many news papers and magazines, and there was no social media. Many families used to be joint families. So what parents lacked in their understanding, they could get it from family elders. It used to be common that grand parents would live with the son.
Then things started to change. People began to move away from their hometown. Family elders were not always with them. In a nuclear family, young parents had to get involved in childs development. As TV channels came up, many started advicing on parenting tips right from beginning of pregnancy to raising a child. Then came social media revolution, now one can find on YouTube how to coach a child for which education, what are the employment opportunities in a particular stream, how to write board exams etc. Parents had to simply download the information and explain it to children.
Many parents are actively engaged in overseeing studies of their children in the hope that a good grade may help him enroll into a good course and eventually land a good job. Families make sacrifice to send kids to an English medium school, and in specialized coaching classes, one for each subject of physics, chemistry and mathematics. In a way many more parents are more involved in shaping future of their kids today.
With increase in disposable income, and appreciation of potential career opportunities, many parents started allowing kids to participate in extracurricular activities like music, dance, sports etc.
All said and done, in a country with a population of 1.3 billion plus, I would say hardly 500 million, a very liberal estimate, may afford to get involved in shaping future of their kids. A vast majority of 800 million population still struggle to earn a living and have no time for niceties of life. Unlike parents in the US and Canada, I think Indian parents by far are not as open and as involved with their kids. Afterall, these are different societies. But things are changing.
This post is written in response to Indispire prompt at Indiblogger. More posts on the same topic may be found here.