Parenting gone horribly wrong

November 23, 2018 08:46 AM Aditi Sharma


The sad thing is that parents know what’s wrong with their child but instead of trying to correct it they themselves come up with excuses for their child’s behavior. What’s also unfortunate is that fact that they feel the need to explain every decision they take to their six- or seven-year-old kid. 

The problem with today’s kids is definitely their parents. I’m not even kidding. If you think a child is unruly, loud, or badly behaved, try looking at the way his parents are handling him. You will, more often than not, come to the conclusion that the parents aren’t really teaching him anything for him to behave any differently. 

Genes and certain predispositions aside, no child comes into the world with a tendency to be good or bad. How they behave and what they say are largely determined by what their parents teach or don’t teach them. And in today’s world where “being an individual” and “not crushing creativity” (whatever these freakish concepts mean) take precedence over good manners, it’s becoming increasingly common to see children who blatantly do whatever they want and exude a sense of impudence towards everybody around them. 

And contrary to what many of my friends (with kids, of course) believe, that such impudence today will make them confident adults later on, I think it will only make them selfish and self indulgent individuals. If a child never learns to be polite, to sometimes shut up and listen, and to respect his elders when he is growing up, he’s not going to get bitten by the ‘virtue’ bug and be polite, patient, and respectful later on in life.

Let me give you an example of an eight-year-old little girl. She is my friend’s daughter. I first held her when she was two months old and have seen her through the years. When she was four years old, she smashed plates and glasses on the floor at a restaurant because no one was paying her any attention and then started crying. Her parents’ reaction was to pacify her by asking her what she wanted. Her dad took her around the corner for some ice cream with cherries. Punishment was the last thing on their minds. The child had a ‘need’ that they had to fulfill. And I have seen them live by that dictum and progressively watched the cute baby girl become a mini monster.

Today, when I visit my friend, she pulls my hair, bites me, screams at me if I tell her to stop and then, at the end, always, always cries and tells me to stay away, often from her home altogether. And all the while my friend silently watches, shakes her head at the most, and says (and I quote), “My daughter can be so difficult sometimes.” This kid is ‘difficult’ even at school. Apparently, she doesn’t pay attention in class and disturbs her friends quite a bit. 

My friend thinks it’s a part of growing up. Her teachers have repeatedly told my friend that she needs some disciplining but not only does my friend not do the needful, she actually went to complain to the principal when a teacher made her stand for 15 minutes for being noisy. “She’s a kid. She doesn’t need to suffer that torture”, was her justification, never mind that her precious little one is torturing everyone else.

The thing is this girl who was once an attention seeking kid at most is now an ill-tempered and obnoxious little brat. But as much as I might dread catching up with my friend when it’s not school hours, I also know that the child isn’t to be blamed. She was never told, taught, or corrected. When she cried and raised a fuss, her parents caved in. Over time, what she learnt was that in order to get her way she has to scream and shout. Being good would just earn her a pat in the head at the most, while kicking and screaming would get her just what she wanted, be it extra TV time, extended bedtime, or even that second double scoop ice cream. 

I really don’t see what was wrong with the parenting style of our parent’s generation. They locked us up, gave us timeouts, whacked us a bit, and saw to it that every time we went crazy, we didn’t get what we wanted. It made us realize the importance of being respectful and, in hindsight, taught us valuable life lessons. I, for one, know that I would have turned out to be a ‘difficult’ adult had my mother not repeatedly locked me up in my room for every little misdemeanor. 

Parenting was supposed to be something hardwired and instinctual but today parents often question themselves if they are doing things the way they are supposed to. One ‘wrong’ move (like saying no or telling their kids that they have been bad) and they think their kids’ self-esteem will plummet, they will be scarred for life, and thus never be the great people they are meant to be. Even though today we have more knowledge at our disposal with books on parenting and the internet flooded with articles on the same, we are letting go of our judgment. 

The sad thing is that parents know what’s wrong with their child but instead of trying to correct it they themselves come up with excuses for their child’s behavior. What’s also unfortunate is that fact that they feel the need to explain every decision they take to their six- or seven-year-old kid. This generation of parents seems to have forgotten that their job as parents is not to become their children’s best friends. Their job is to guide them, protect them, educate them and provide them with very clear instructions so they know exactly what is acceptable and what is not – just like it was in the old days. As parents, you needn’t and shouldn’t tiptoe around your child, fearing their moods and doing everything they ask. You set the rules and discipline them enough that they follow. Not all changes are good and, quite evidently, the metamorphosis in parenting style has definitely not been for the better. 

sharmaditi@gmail.com


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