Parenting isn’t a noun but a verb—an ongoing process instead of an accomplishment. And that no matter how many years you put into the job, the learning curve is, well, fairly flat.
— Jodi Picoult
Parents don’t have time for their kids now. They are constantly moving, working and stressed
Parenting: A noun or a verb?
I remember the English teacher in my elementary school explaining what a verb is: a verb is a word which is used to describe or indicate an action and -ing ending is used to show the progressive/continuous verb tenses. Well, I am not getting into the English grammar, but the quote does resonate with the fundamental role of a parent i.e., continuous learning. Learning to get attuned with the expectations and challenges posed by the generation who constantly wants to engage in things like gaming and social media.
Good old days…
As a child I was not so keen on going to school or waking up early in the morning and looking for those lost pair of socks, dreading to face the teacher with an incomplete homework and carrying the weight of those irrationally heavy bags on my lean shoulders.
Now when I sit back and think, those days were not bad except for those normal stressful moments every child goes through. We had our own share of beautiful moments, had parents who listened to us while we were talking, friends whom we still cherish and family to fall back on when in need.
Things have changed, don’t know for better or worse, but they have. There has been a paradigm shift in the relation between parent and child and in relation between family and friends. In fact, in retrospect, I feel our parents were better parents than us, teaching us those life lessons with whatever little they had and yes, they made us firmly grounded.
We as children were more conforming to family norms, valued family relations and were comparatively more submissive than our children. The only source of entertainment for us back then was a television! Parents were not as busy as they seem to be now (constantly hooked up to their smartphones). Therefore they had enough time to keep an eye on what the child did. I still remember my father coming home from work and asking me about the dodging tables in mathematics! The day I fumbled with any of the answers was the day when the world seemed to have turned upside down.
But things have changed. The way we see things, process of understanding them has also changed. The very definition of good parenting has changed, metamorphosed into a concept which seems technical, complex and superficial.
Emoticons and emotions
Parents don’t have time for their kids now. They are constantly moving, working and stressed and blame it on the competitive lifestyle, demanding work or just choice. And what’s worse, they camouflage their guilt with expensive gadgets as though these machines can replace human emotions and attachment. I read the story which was recently trending online in Japan about an elementary teacher grading her student’s assignment on what they wished to be. There was an assignment and this is what it read:
“My wish is to become a smartphone. It’s my wish because my mom and dad really love their smartphones.
My mom and dad play games on their phone, not with me. When they’re talking with someone on the phone, even if I am excited about something and want to tell them, they just shush me and tell me to go away...”
I can’t say whether it was a real story but it does ring the bell loud, loud enough to shake our inner selves.
The other day I saw a post on Facebook which was captioned “What every parent should listen” and I couldn’t hold back from pressing the play button. I cannot recall the name of the lady who was speaking but what I liked about her talk was her belief that parenting is not so complex, not as mechanized as people have made it and we don’t really have to frantically google parenting tips.
I want to share what I liked most about the talk: a girl after listening to the story of Cinderella said that Cinderella went to the ball that night not to find the prince of her life but to wear good clothes and look beautiful! Not saying her understanding is wrong, but just look at how a child perceives the same story in a different way now. Thanks to the technology, overhyped fashion trends and the overrated idea to look beautiful, no wonder cosmetic surgeries are the in thing now. The girl’s reasoning is totally different than what we, during our childhood, understood about the story.
So, parents, please get your parental app updated! Start thinking like your child, be the best friend of your child and see how easy parenting is. The parenting sites, seminars and bucket list of dos and don’ts are not the panacea for all the parenting problems because each one of us, every child, every parent, every situation is different. You cannot paint everyone with the same brush so don’t blindly rely and follow the 184,000,000 results you get if you google this topic.
Doctors and lawyers say they are practicing doctors and lawyers. We are practicing parents too, practicing throughout our lives. Remember, the app needs to get updated regularly. There is nothing like good or bad parenting. Be a friend to your child. Instead of an expensive watch give them your time for they will value and cherish your presence more than your presents.
Sue Atkins rightly said: “There is no such thing as a perfect parent so just be a real one”.