I think we can rightfully call ourselves the new age parents of India, right?
Of course there have been many more parents before us, and every new generation is a new breed of parents on its own.
What I mean here is that, given the tremendous amount of change in attitude and tactics of parenting that has happened in India in the last few years, those of us who are parents at this stage are surely way different than how our parents were.
In most cases that is.
I am not writing this article as a good or bad style of parenting. All styles of parenting are good, as long as the underlying thought is the benefit and well-being of the child. What I am trying to say, however, is that, just as life has changed tremendously from how it was for the past generation, so has our way of parenting.
When I think of myself as a parent today and think back to those times when I was a kid myself, I can instantly see the difference.
Let's begin with some looking back then....
My brother and I grew up in a nuclear family, and ours was a simple middle class family.
Our parents were of very modest means, and to this day, my parents have not bought a vehicle. Well, this surely means we had a budget to stick to, and our parents always followed a system in the house that applied to us all.
Growing up, I never remember questioning anything my parents did. Neither did my brother. My father had some financial troubles in his early years, and it took him quite a long time to come out of those. My mother, though was working as a teacher, the money was not enough to do a lot of things other children back then did.
One thing my parents were very sure about was that there would be no compromise on our education or health. So, we went to the best of schools and had the best of teachers to learn from, of course our best teachers till date have been our parents, and now, I am learning a lot from my kids too...but that's for a different post :)
So coming back to those times, we learnt very well how to grow up with limited means, and in a way it has strengthened us as adults. I remember any time we saw some toy or something we wanted to buy, my father would tell us very honestly that it was the end of the month and he would try and get it for us next month. Or, better still, he would ask us if we absolutely needed it next month. In most cases, both bhai and I understood that buying that something could cause father some discomfort, so we immediately said no no, nothing important, we don't need it. And that would be it....we would move on.
My mother ensured we had a routine in the house, and we knew when we had to sit down to study and when we needed to sleep. We lived in a one room home, not one room and bedroom, but only one room, for most part of my growing up life, and now when I look back, I realise none of it caused me any problems whatsoever. We all had our own part of the bed, our own recreation part in the house, our own ways of entertaining with toys or books. And there was hardly any clash ever. Of course with a sibling, you are bound to fight, and its one of the many joys of growing up...so we did fight of course....but other than that, I think we were pretty good kids when it came to keeping ourselves to a routine and doing as our mother said.
I remember our school started very early, and my school bus would come at 6am in summers and 6:30am in those Delhi winter mornings, when the world stood asleep amidst fog and shivers. But even though I hated waking up early, I know for a fact that I knew I had to wake up and get ready and go to school, and there wasn't another option really.
As for asking our parents about something they had already said no to, I don't remember that much. Our parents say we were really good kids. Of course as a teenager I have given much grief to my parents and I'm not proud of that at all....in fact, I would do anything to mend it now....But thankfully, just as parents are, mine too have chosen to forget it completely and only tell me that I am good and they are proud of me.... (but they are biased, I know) :)
And one more thing - I have never been hit ever by my parents - EVER...EVER and NEVER EVER!
So that was then...what now? When I'm the parent?
I have two daughters, just in case you are a new reader and don't know. The elder one is 7 and the younger one is 1 and they share the same birth date.
The younger one is still too young to understand about discipline, though she understands the basics like No and Quiet and stuff.
Coming to my first born...
My first born is a very sensitive kid. She is super emotional, very very observant and a deep thinker, way beyond her age I've been told by her teachers and others, and gets affected by situations and people very easily. She is also a kind and caring girl and a genuinely good and wise soul.
But she is also a child.
When it comes to disciplining, usually telling her a firm NO is enough. But yes, I see that she does have the questioning streak in her, and anything that I tell her she always asks me the reason for it.
So much so that if I tell her I can't buy her something at this point, she will ask me why. And if I say it is too expensive to be bought right now and I can't spend that amount now, she does understand.
This is something we never did as kids, but I am happy and proud that she does, and does understand. If nothing, it gives her an idea of how things work even in the grown up world, and strengthens our bond as mother and daughter.
Some things aren't so easy though.
Like the same situation, of always asking WHY, does land me in trouble, as you can't always give your reasons to your kid. So I guess there's a good and bad of everything.
Like getting her in a routine.
I still struggle to get her to wake up on time, or to make her get ready herself on time. It's a constant struggle.
Now coming back to the main part of disciplining - do I ever hit my kid? YES.
I am ashamed of it, but the honest answer is yes, I do hit her, and sometimes I do feel that it is unwarranted, but just that my stress levels hit the roof so hard that it seems the only right thing to do at that point. And of course, as most moms will testify, it ends up sending us on a major guilt trip.
My anger usually comes out in one strong NO, if it doesn't work it is followed by a slap on the arm or shoulder. By this time my daughter gets highly mortified, especially as she finds it extremely embarrassing, and she cries like anything. If I am ok by then, I calm her down. If I am not calm by myself, I send her to her room.
Let me tell you here that I am deeply ashamed of myself each time I end up behaving like this, and no excuse is justified.
There are many things at play here.
Times are stressed, and it's very different for us parents today of how we saw parenting when we were growing up.
With two kids now, I would say the stress has hit the roof, and I get agitated easily - even my daughter has pointed that out. All these instances of hitting have happened after our second one was born.
With so many classes to send her to, so many assignments, so many different subjects, professional life, my freelance projects and blogging and of course family, and not to forget, a very tiny person in the house, life has not a moment left for me to rest and breathe. Truly.
I barely survive on 3-4 hours of sleep each night, that too disturbed, and this is how it is for at least Sunday to Friday night. Some weekends I manage to catch up on a little extra sleep.
Also the fact that the world is changing and nothing is safe for our kids anymore. It gets hard when you constantly have to monitor everyone and filter out people from your or your child's network, without being able to explain why you are doing so. Not to mention that it hurts the child sure, and children will continue to feel like you are making them alienated from their friends. But even though it is sad, it is how it is.
Parenting today is quite challenging, but yes, it is satisfying too. I am constantly struggling with myself to take it a little easy, to take time out for myself to breathe, so that I can handle my children better and happier. If you asked my daughter, she would tell you that she loves being with me and that we have super fun and happy times all the time..
But I know that given a chance, I would still want to go back to those simpler times of parenting that our parents were going through.
Or were they?
If you are a parent from the previous generation, please do share your views with me. And if you are a parent of today, I would really want to know how you are doing it all.
- Debolina Raja Gupta
And like I always believe in and say:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ
Happy Parenting!!!! Be good to your little one, and to the millions of little ones out there who truly need every bit of love and compassion they can get.....Be a grown up...save the little ones.... Debolina Raja Gupta