What Children Want.

for-Its not about the child-2I recently came across a video of this little girl who is asking her mother to get along better with her father even though they are divorced. It has been put up by the mother and has gone viral with everyone sharing it. Here is the link.

Girl Asking her Divorced Parents to get along

It struck me that the reason this video has gone viral is that it strikes such a chord in all of our hearts. It is a such a universal sentiment. Truly the wish of each and every child is to have parents who are loving to the child and to each other, to grow up with no parental conflict or violence, to be able to have a happy childhood. Equally the wish of each and every parent is to give their children everything.

Unfortunately, the realities of life sometimes mean that relationships break down. Even when both parents are staying together, one parent may be emotionally unavailable leading to the other parent carrying the brunt of actual parenting. Here in the Indian context single parenthood and its challenges are becoming more common than before.  This is further hampered by the breakdown of traditional family support systems and sometimes parents are left floundering without anyone to turn to for help or even advice.

Considering how important parenting is and the long lasting effects of ill-advised parenting choices on the psyche of the child and also the society the child will be a part of as an adult, it is indeed worrying that people do not have good enough knowledge and lack positive parenting skills.

Online addiction – new perils in parenting.

Parenting today is made more complicated because of technology.

Technology is a fact of life. Today the Internet is so much a part of our life that we take it for granted. We use it for all aspects of life. It is indeed remarkable. But at what cost?

There is enough and more information daily in the news and in media everywhere about the harmful aspects of the Internet. Recently I read an article in the Times of India about “Addiction to online games up among teens“.

Addiction happens gradually, but often times people are so intrigued with the limitless possibilities available to them on the Internet, they forget about the real life implications these virtual actions can have. This kind of addiction can be quite dangerous and has far reaching implications for life.

With more exposure to living virtually  and their comfort in that virtual world can lead them to withdraw socially from the real world. This habit, if not addressed early, can continue in their adult life too.

What I am seeing is that people with social anxiety are gravitating online as a substitute, and that can be OK to a certain point unless your real-life relationships begin to suffer, and that’s when it becomes problematic. Some of them truly have difficulty forming real-life relationships.

An extreme case being seen in Japan is that of Hikikomori.

Doomsday scenarios aside, the reality is that parents must be aware of how much time their children are spending online in the virtual world and be proactive in teaching them how to balance their time in both the worlds.

It’s not about the child.

Parenting is something most people don’t think too much about till they have children. There is an underlying belief that it is something that is natural. Children are born, they grow up. Parental participation is needed to only ensure that the child is fed regularly, taught to behave, sent to school and parents are just expected to be around so that the child grows up and establishes himself or herself as an adult. In India especially there is a culture of doing what our parents did and expecting that the children do what we as children did in return.

Faced with the changing world and the realities of today, both parents and children are finding that it is not so simple. The attitude of “what is there to learn” is being challenged by a sense of “what am I doing wrong?” or even “why is my child misbehaving?” or “why doesn’t my child share anything with me?”

Parenting is a skill, positive parenting even more so. We are all not born knowing how to parent. We were each ushered into adulthood by our parents and by and large the kind of parenting we received from them is the kind of parenting we will be influenced by. If the kind of parenting we received worked for us and we were happy we will try to do the same thing as parents. If it didn’t we would try to do the opposite.

In either scenario, there is a strong possibility that what might have worked for us growing up, doesn’t work for parenting today. Today kids are growing up in a world very different from anything else before. The challenges ahead of them, the exposure they have and the stresses from trying to grow up today are beyond anything we ourselves have experienced as children.

To parent them we need to realign ourselves, let go of our prejudices and expectations and learn new skills of bonding with our kids.