Parenting in the 21st Century

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It has been said, time and again, that parenting cannot be learnt; it is an innate quality, which surfaces when one is ready to assume the role of a nurturer. However, as with every facet of our lives, we need some guidance and encouragement to tread carefully into this foreign territory. Tons of self-help books are bought, doctors visited, age old antics passed down in the family are pondered over. But nothing prepares you to deal with the onslaught of emotions and responsibility, as your instincts would. Parenting in itself can be overwhelming at best, but within the context of the 21st century, it is a whole other ball game. Standards of life are continually fluctuating and soon, it is a race to win the title of “The Coolest Parent Ever”. But is being “cool” the best thing for your child? Guaranteed, you may be showered with a lot of praise; but more often than not, your tolerant behavior goes on to reinforce all habits that the child would develop.

Of late, technology has wormed its way into the lives of children. A study “published in the journal, Computers in Human Behavior, found that sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions and computers.” (Summers, 2014) This is evidence to the fact that children, who are increasingly dependent on technology, are depriving themselves of a carefree childhood, characterized by social interactions. Perhaps, it would be a good move to not introduce the child to gadgets at an early age. Or even if they have access to such technology, make it a point to discourage constant usage. Technology ought to be used to simplify life, but not to such an extent that it takes over one’s day to day activities. Coping with the problem of technology is one of the major impediments in parenting.

parenting_beautifulpeoplemagazineMillennials are becoming more and more progressive, paying due attention to their education, career and long term prospects. Somewhere, amidst all of that lies the question of starting a family. There could be a tendency to neglect familial responsibilities when the work load gets high. The blame game does no good and parents are left feeling even more disheartened. Nevertheless, research has shown that children, due to neglect or deficient attention, could be adversely affected. Their personality is moulded by the lack of proper upbringing to inhibit signs of attention seeking, dependence on external validation for sense of self, distorted perception etc. All of it doesn’t necessarily hold true for every child, because each of their development is marked by individual differences and social norms. It is understandable that a parent has several other responsibilities, but they ought to maintain a balance for the betterment of their child. There are several options available to a parent nowadays. Social support in the form of friends, relatives and help groups exist. Surely they could volunteer to look after the child for a few hours at a time. This would lessen the burden on the parent to a great deal. Work places are expanding their policies to incorporate methods that make employment easier on parents.

Another aspect to look at is indulgence. Quality of life is only going to keep rising exponentially. This offers children a wide variety of choices in terms of toys, eatables, activities etc. But that shouldn’t equal to spoiling the child. Instead parents could adopt a reward system, wherein for exhibiting positive behavior, the child is given a reward. This not only reinforces their good habits, but also inculcates in them, the idea that they should work hard to reap benefits. A research paper titled Indulgent Parenting: The Impact on Children states that “children raised by indulgent parents often are less mature than their peers. This lack of maturity is evident in their response to not getting what they want. These children are prone to age-inappropriate temper tantrums. In addition, as other children are learning to take responsibility for their own actions, children with indulgent parents do not.” (Miller, 2010) Instead of ignoring a child’s bad habits, the parent should strictly enforce rules and punishments for healthy development.

Every child is different, but there are certain principles that govern their growth and cognitive structuring. So as a parent, give it some thought; instil values that would help your child in the long run.

Image Courtesy: The Huffington Post

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