How Parenting Has Evolved Over The Years
With changing times, lifestyle and need, the way parents now choose to raise kids has also undergone a sea change
By Niru Agarwal
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.” – Joyce Maynard, American novelist and journalist
A parent will always be a parent be it ‘then’ or be it ‘now’, and parenting an art. However, with change being the essence of life, nothing remains the same for long. And, parenting has also evolved with time.
From having more than three children in the past, to having second thoughts before planning for the second child, to not having kids at all, what comes to the fore is the fact that with progress and open-mindedness, priorities have shifted too. Most millennial parents tend to play safe if they are not ready physically and psychologically for parenthood. Financial stability and the right ambience have emerged as benchmarks to be achieved prior to welcoming a child in the world. Family dynamics have also altered drastically. Joint family setups rendering ample support have given way to nuclear families. So, with little or almost no help, couples find it almost next to impossible to strike a balance between nurturing their child, and managing their household chores and profession.
Today, parenting is a joint venture with more fathers taking an active part in their child’s upbringing. As a result, taking care of a child is no longer considered a ‘feminine’ thing. Instead of behaving in an autocratic manner, new-age parents steer their children in the right direction, while giving them the freedom to learn from their mistakes.
The notion of ’spare the rod and spoil the child’ is passé. Nowadays, parents realise that corporal punishment and criticism would not only heighten their child’s aggression but also damage her self-esteem. Parents also understand the fact that only children who feel loved actually learn to reciprocate the feeling.
The concept of ‘Badi’ (big) has changed to ‘buddy’ (friend). From a top-down hierarchical order, relationships are now more open with healthy communication and interaction, better understanding of children’s aspirations, respect for each other’s views, as well as a more open decision-making process.
The advent of media and technological boom has given rise to a situation where tech-savvy children appear more knowledgeable than their elders. At the same time, with rapid digitalisation, parents are also trying to keep a check on their child’s online presence, lest he falls prey to something undesirable. While the digital revolution has proved to be a boon for children, it has also opened up new vistas for parents and broadened their perspectives. Today’s parents no longer crib over marks obtained in exams, but believe in the holistic development of their child. They no longer confine their child solely to academics but motivate her to pursue her passion, and innovate and think beyond the periphery of the curriculum. They are forever willing to go to any extent to help their child realise her true potential and calling.
Thanks to the media, parents have become more sensitive to the physical and psychological risks faced by children from paedophiles or bullies or others indulging in child abuse. They are willing to provide their children access to counselling and sex education, as well as let them learn self-defence skills.
Today, the parent–child relationship is more intimate and egalitarian than ever. Parents continue to remain supportive even after their children have attained adulthood. They have come to believe in the fact that, 'To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.'
However, despite being swept by the wave of progressiveness and modernity, parents still face the dilemma of whether to be lenient or pushy, indulgent or laid back, to prioritise academics over other accomplishments or give their children other choices.
Ms Niru Agarwal, Trustee, Greenwood High International School
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