There was a conversation in my cousin group yesterday that set me thinking on how parenting has changed over the years. It made me wonder what we are doing different from our parents. The times have changed, so too the parenting styles. Our parents did not face the challenges that we do in these times. But then they must have faced challenges that we can’t even imagine.

So today I writing a different kind of post. I will try and review five different situations and see if old parenting is better or new style is.

1.  Projects

I don’t remember my parents doing any project at all for me or my sister. In fact, there were not many projects to do too. If we had to do something, we did it on our own.

The amount of projects that the parents of my generation are involved in are colossal. I have been involved in many many projects for my kids, right from buying the stuff, to helping complete them. I used to have folders full of pictures of random stuff like freedom fighters, creepers, vegetables, energy resources, food, and a whole lot of other stuff. Who knows which one will be needed next?

It makes me wonder, did our kids know more about poets, freedom fighters and flowers by sticking pictures in books? In my personal opinion, my sis and I learnt more about birds and flowers by actually working in our garden. We used to pluck jasmine and jaaji and make them into garlands everyday! It is a sad thing now that we live in flats  and houses where there are no gardens. The varieties of birds are also less. My kids can’t identify plants by looking at leaves. (I am not an expert but I am better than them)

So did the projects help?

2.  Walking vs Pick Up/Drop

Now a days, it is a duty of parents to pick up and drop their kids to their different activities, school, tuitions, friends place etc etc. I am sure a whole lot of our parents never did that. We had to take the 11 number bus. You know, walk. And if it was too distant to walk, we took the public transport. Our kids have not seen the inside of a packed bus.

Are we making our kids a little too pampered?

3.  PTA

I don’t ever remember going to a PTA with my parents. In fact, if the parents were called to the school it was something to be concerned about. The marks card was sent home, the parents saw, signed and gave back. That’s it. Unless they had something pretty serious they never turned up at the school.

Now the scene is changed. The PTA is one of the most important highlights of being a parent. Though I have never been one of them, but I have seen parents bothering the overworked teachers about their kids on a daily basis. There was this one parent, a mother of my daughter’s best friend. Though her daughter was always one of the toppers, the mother would have a long list of complaints about the poor girl. I always wanted to scream “What more do you want from her?”

Though I don’t approve of the old parenting style in this regard. (You must take some interest in your child’s education), this helicopter parenting in harmful too. This hovering, constantly reviewing and comparing surely affects the child.

Is the child getting smothered?

4.  Summer Camps

For us, summer vacation was a total blast. Days and days of  time just stretched out to laze, read, run, fight, eat and do just about anything.

That is not true now. Parents look to cram the summer vacation with all sorts of stuff.  Of course, it does not help that the parents need to go to work and kids cant be left alone in the house. Its a catch 22 situation. On principle, I never sent my kids to any summer camp. They have turned out ok.

Are we robbing the kids of relaxation?

5.  Phones

Mobile phones are indeed a friend and foe of the parent.

When I think back now, I feel petrified how my mother and father let me travel abroad for work knowing that till I contacted them, they would have no idea if I reached safely. I don’t think I have the mental strength to have so much faith. As a communication tool, a phone and all the other electronic media are a gift to humanity. The ease of communication is amazing. Though I have seen the era of landlines, I can’t ever go back to it where I can’t instantly talk/text a person.

Having said that, I also know that as a parent, it is highly difficult to lure a kid these days away from the phone.  Just today, I read in the paper that NIMHANS (premier mental health care centre in Bangalore) has declared “texting addiction” as a mental disorder.

This generation is one of instant gratification. Success is measured in number of likes and follows and retweets. The fact that hard work alone leads to success is getting lost somewhere in the melee of “going viral”.

Are we preparing a generation of low self esteem?

I am of conflicting views about these topics. On one hand we are being protective of our kids from this big bad world. On the other, the world has always been big and bad in all ages. Our parents too must have felt all that we feel. They too must have gone through all the anxieties of being a parent. But did they do a better job than we are doing?

Written for the July BarAThon 2018.

Today’s prompt is : Gimme Five

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