Hapless parents who are always rushing from pillar to post to make the two ends meet carry a lovely responsibility on their tender shoulders – that of bringing up kids.
Families have shrunk. Technology has sneaked into the family space. Most parents themselves have one sibling each, and they also happen to be equally busy chasing their own dreams. The desire to enjoy independence from parents has led to the current trend of singular families. Kids no longer have the luxury of curling up in bed with the family seniors and listening to juicy stories and fables from the distant past.
Often, hassled parents, already bearing the guilt of not being able to spend enough quality time with their kids, get into a conflict with kids over such inane matters as the choice of their friends, the dress they wish to wear in their free time, and the shows they insist on watching on a TV or on an iPad. Arbitration facilities provided by family seniors in the past have all but vanished.
Fed by cartoon or game characters which shoot to kill, the kids gradually start believing themselves to be invincible. They take violence and physical intimidation against others to be a normal behaviour. The resultant chaos in the society is for all of us to see and brood upon.
Pick up an old soft movie like The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins, and present day kids could be forgiven for looking at these askance. Put on an animation movie and you find an immediate arousal of interest.
Minimizing Screen Time, Maximizing Values
For hapless parents, there are two basic challenges. One, that of minimizing Screen Time, weaning away kids from gadgets and involving them in outdoor activities. Two, that of imparting them the values which would last them a life time.
No meal can be consumed unless a cartoon movie is not playing on the iPad perched on the dining table. The threat of changing the WiFi password alone works to bring about a semblance of discipline in the house.
Gone are the days when family seniors used to control all the entertainment appliances in the house. Now the kids’ wish and expertise rules supreme. At schools, gone are the days of detention and punishment. In quite a few cases, teachers get the flak for not treating the kids right.
One does not resent the kids their present state. One merely wants them to be better prepared to face the harsh realities of life, as and when they need to forgo the sheltered lifestyle they take for granted. In some cases, stay in a hostel might help. In others, a special course to use the right side of the brain might help.
Perhaps it is time to consciously revert back to the joint family system, wherever feasible. Perhaps it is time to be soft as well as stern while dealing with kids. Perhaps it makes sense for them to get exposed to some sort of deprivation in life. A walk through a slum. Stories of kids who do not get to attend school. Gifting toys to poor children.
The corporate world has already woken up to the need of a woman employee to spend more quality time with her kids. Maternity leaves are getting extended. Paternity leaves are already a norm in the advanced countries. More options centered around flexible hours are being offered. Yet, much more can and needs to be done.
In all cases, an outdoor sports activity helps. An addiction to reading books also helps. Even on internet, there is no dearth of such offerings as Aesop’s Fables and the Panchatantra.
What is essential is a strong connection with the real world and an exposure to the slice of virtual world which is steeped in ethics, morals and values.
- All illustrations are courtesy the world wide web.
- Brighter Minds is an educational initiative to equip every child with tools and methods to enhance cognitive functioning for achieving personal excellence, and instill confidence in oneself)