This is part three (final part) of the Article on parents-children relationship. In the previous part, we saw how the parents-children relationship existed two generations ago (i.e. present day kid’s grand parents’ child rearing age). Earlier to that we saw, in Part 1, the parent- children relationship that existed 3 generations ago.
Let us now see how the parents-children relationship exists in the present times (i.e. the parenting age of present day young couples). Please be forewarned that these are the observations of this author, who is nearing sixty; naturally, this ’old man’ will tend to be critical and judgmental! These observations mostly pertain to educated middle/upper middle class families that happen to somehow live in India (i.e. such of those parents and children who are not ‘fortunate enough’ (?) to settle abroad, so to say!)
It is the period of young parents who mostly fit into DISK (“Double Income and Single Kid”) category. If the mother happens to be a stay- at-home-mom, she is termed rather too old fashioned and out of sync with the trend! It is quite rare a sight to see mothers stay-at-home, thanks to the increase in cost of living and the desires proportionate to it!
This is the ‘glorious’ period of abject materialism, gadget mania and globalized cultural onslaught; this culture, nurtured by parents, flows down naturally and abundantly to the children. Being Indian parents, their love for children is quite abundant, but that love flows more through materialistic means than through the quality time of parents spent in caring and cuddling children. Parents constantly seem to have some sense of guilt about their own lack of time to spend with children, which they tend to compensate by showering children with materialistic goodies. Present day children seem to be over-pampered, less controlled, less disciplined, enjoy a lot more freedom to throw up tantrums and demand things and manage to get what they want as a matter of right.
Fathers seem to suffer more by a sense of guilt about sitting so late in the office that when they come back home tired, the children are already fast asleep. Somehow, they seem to wish that they should try and contribute more in showering love and care to children, though they are handicapped by their slavery to office. Consequently, present day fathers, when time permits, need arises and when wives demand tend to spend more time with the baby, changing nappies, bathing the child, feeding the child with bottle and spoon, rocking the cradle, attending to washing machine in washing children’s clothes and so on. Many seem do it with genuine love and care.
On the other hand, it appears to the myopic view of this writer that present day mothers somehow are less keen and committed on childcare than the mothers of previous generation. For them, their ‘career’ seems to be more important than anything else. Many of them feel bad about their inability to take better care of their children, but becoming a stay-at-home-mom purely with the lofty ideal of child care seems to be too much of a sacrifice for them. With double income comes double comforts, double the capacity to spend on wanted and unwanted things and double the amount of loans they could borrow for acquiring a flat, a car and what not, to repay which, the job becomes a must.
With both husband and wife going out on jobs and working late, their communication gap gets widened; small skirmishes turn to serious fights; patience is less; irritability is more. And a child is a silent witness to all. Nuclear family is the norm now. Many grandparents too seem to want to enjoy their old age without encumbrances and grandmothers, unlike earlier generations, seem not too willing to “sacrifice’ their mega-serial-watching time for child care. So, crèches and ayas have a field day.
Schooling is a lot of fun for the current day children, with schools competing against each other to provide lots of interesting activities to match their exorbitant fee structure. Parents seem to encourage children on different activities and not just getting good marks, unlike the previous generation. Awareness about undue pressure on children to score marks has increased among parents.
With a lot of after school hours at disposal, parents look out for interesting and different activity centers to send their children. Activities like ballet dancing, archery etc. are quite common! This leaves the children with tight schedules and they become more restless. With lack of outdoor space to play, children end up getting addicted to gadgets and mindless games.
Present day kids seem to get the best of their materialistic and social needs ; it is not just what they want or what they deserve; it is what the parents invariably think and give as best that, befitting their financial status, they can afford to give their children. Unfortunately this trend seems to be affecting the have-nots too. Cutting across the financial imbalances, every parent of the present day wants to give their materialistic best to the children unmindful of the affordability.
Children end up getting virtually everything – a computer at home, unlimited access to computer games, access to third rate and non-stop cartoon channels, every gadget-like costly toy, a feature-packed cell phone of their own even at the age of secondary schooling, unlimited access to junk food and so on.
If the present day parents can be described as hyper tense, the children are hyper active. Restlessness has become the very nature of kids. Their span of attention and interest on a thing is far shorter. Present day children are far more intelligent, far more observing, far smarter and far more aggressive than the children of previous generations. With parents owning cars, children become too lazy to do any walking. Childhood obesity is a serious threat facing the affordable society today.
For children, parents are neither respectable figures nor lovable figures. They are ones duty bound to take care of their needs, greed and demands. Parents are taken for granted!