Last weekend, my husband and I were comparing our childhood. He was reminiscing about his childhood friends and his terrace birthday parties, while I was nostalgic of the big neighbourhood gang of kids that I used to play with every evening till the dusk fell or till my mother came searching for me. What a beautiful and carefree childhood we had!! This led to another discussion on whether our childhood was easier than our daughter’s. Do today’s kids have it easy? Let’s see:
Telephones and Smartphones
We had one dial-up phone for the entire family and many families didn’t even have phones. Importance was given to calls of the elder members of the family. And we got to call only when we had missed school. The calls were short too, as there would be someone always saying – “Enough. It costs money, you know?” And STD calls were usually made after 10 pm as they were frightfully expensive.
Most teens and tweens have their personal phones nowadays. With cheap calls and apps, they don’t have to worry about missing important notice or circular from the school.
Doordarshan, Cable TV and Netflix
I was 12 years old when we got the cable TV. I am sure most parents of my generation would have got cable TV around the same age. And did we have kids-centric program? No!! We avidly waited for twice-weekly Chitrahaar and Sunday evening movies on Doordarshan. Today, kids have so many channels of their own and with Netflix and Amazon Prime a regular home feature, they are spoilt for choices.
Family air conditioner to every room air conditioner
I didn’t have an air-conditioner in our bedroom till I turned 22 years. In the terrible heat of Ahmedabad summers, our parents would sometimes agree to my sister and I sleeping in their air-conditioned room. But, my daughter’s room had an air conditioner even before she was born.
Just because we wanted something, it was not necessary that we would get it. I don’t even remember getting birthday gifts from my parents. Today’s kids don’t have to wait for their birthdays to get gifts. I had 3 games – Ludo & Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble and Carom Board, while my daughter has more toys and games than they can fit in the cupboards. But, what a beautiful and carefree childhood we had!!
So, yes if we think of these arguments, then yes, our kids are pampered. They get more than what they need. But the question remains – do today’s kids have it easy? Let’s see the other side of the coin.
Even before a child is born, the parents are building her future. Which school she would go, what they need to do to secure an admission, which classes would be ideal for her? No, I am not kidding. Parents fuss when their child is not able to walk on time or she doesn’t talk when her peers do. Parents enrol their toddlers for phonics and diction classes because an admission to certain schools demands that toddlers should have a clear and comprehensible speech. We had it easy. Any school did just fine for our parents as long as it was close by and the fees were affordable.
We studied in English medium school and our teachers did expect us to speak in English. But today’s kids are expected to speak in flawless English even before they are potty trained. In India, most kids are bilingual. But, our kids should know at least 3 to 4 including a couple of foreign languages.
Extra curricular activities
We had extra-curricular activities like Kathak, Bharatnatyam, skating, Tae Kwon Do, etc. But if we weren’t interested in them, our parents didn’t fuss. But every kid today is enrolled in minimum two extra-curricular activities (my child included).
Studying hard and harder
All parents expect their kids to study hard. Even we were pushed to get good grades. But nothing compares to the frenzy of today’s parents. With college admission cut offs at 97-98%, I can understand their dilemma.
Being the sole focus of attention
And the best or worst (well, you decide which) thing of all – kids are the sole focus of their parents. Our parents have loved us too and focused on us. With parents of today, their kids are not only their sole focus, but sole obsession. When they love, they smother them. When they push, they drive them mad. Click To Tweet
Now, I understand that the times have changed and we need to step ahead with the evolving world. But, we can still strike a balance between that 80s era and today. Let’s see how:
- Let your child learn at his own pace. For instance, every child eventually gets potty trained. If your child gets potty trained at 5 years instead of 2 years, it’s alright. It’s not a competition and certainly not the end of the world.
- Try to understand what your child is good at. Enrol him in a few classes, but if even after sometime, he shows neither the inclination nor aptitude for it, withdraw your child. Put him in another one which he might enjoy.
- If your child is not good at studies or doesn’t show much interest in it, let him be. There might be other things which he is good at. Everyone needs to make a career or earn enough to sustain, how and in which domain he does, let your child choose that.
- Stop hovering around your child at all times. It’s not healthy; neither for you, nor for your child. Teach your values well and then trust your child to implement them. Click To Tweet
Parents of all generations have expected their kids to excel, but today’s parents are expecting their kids to be super humans. How could I ever doubt that today’s kids have it easy?
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