Look around. Search for people who are inspirational and successful. Do a little research on them. More particularly, do a little research on their childhood.
How was their childhood? What did they do on their vacations? Did they run from one tuition class to another? How was their typical Sunday? How much were the parents involved? How much freedom did these kids have? Did they enjoy what is called as ‘free play’? Free play is playing without any formal structure. Playing with sand on the beach is free play. Playing with pebbles is free play. Jumping up and down on a trampoline is free play.
Now, let us mirror it with the childhood of our kids. Do we see anything common between the childhood our children have and the childhood of inspirational success stories you did research on? Anything common between how the successful inspirational people were parented and the way we parent our children? What is your conclusion? On second thoughts, for some time, hold on to your conclusions.
Let’s change directions. Do a little research on what are the fantastic qualities that these inspirational success stories have. Go deeper. Find out, when did these qualities developed and how?
Every time I start this conversation with parents, I hear a sigh. I hear nostalgia. I also listen to a defensive complaining. What is the parent’s complaint? Mostly, they exhort me to ‘be practical’. ‘There is more competition now’, they say.
Ahaa! Really? Let me give you a set of numbers – In 1995, about 20 years back, there was around 2,500 seats at IITs and around 200,000 students would have taken the IIT’s famed JEE. In 2016, they got around 12 lakh applications and IITs today have around 10,000 seats. Earlier, of those who appeared for the exams, 1.25% children would get entrance into IITs. Today, about 1.2% children get through. Has the strength of competition really changed?
Competition has increased in numbers but not so much in proportions. Competition has increased a little, but options have increased exponentially.
Modelling was not a career earlier. Today it is.
Photography was not a career earlier. Today it is.
Sports was not a career earlier. Today it is.
Writing was not a career earlier. Today it is.
Talking was not a career earlier. Today it is. (Radio Jockeys / MCs)
Cooking was not a career earlier. Today it is.
Event management was not a career earlier. Today it is.
Acting was not a career earlier. Today it is.
Teaching was not a career earlier. Today it is.
And I can go on and on…
I repeat, competition has increased a wee bit little but options have increased exponentially.
What has also increased exponentially is parent’s paranoia and anxiety levels. Let me explain.
There is something called as clickbait in marketing. Do you see sensational headlines in media? Every day? You may intensely dislike these headings and those news bits. Yet, you might be reading them.
Ever wonder, why does the media cover the negative news so much? They do that to exploit your vulnerability by playing on our ‘click’/’act’ habit when there is fear or excitement. For proof, just look at the heading of this article :-).
Our children will either anchor their thinking on excitement or they will anchor it on fear.
Recall the 3 Idiots movie, when Raju goes for an interview and he is asked, ‘Why are your grades consistently poor?’
His reply is etched in my mind. Raju says, “Due to fear. I was a bright student. However, since childhood, my parents thought I will abolish their poverty! I felt the weight of that expectation. I started to fear. When I came here, I saw that there’s a race. If I don’t come first, no one will recognise me. I started to fear even more. Fear is not good for grade, sir. I started wearing more rings, praying more…not only praying, I started begging to God to give me this, give me that. Nothing ever worked. I failed again and again.”
And then Raju says, “Sir, today, I haven’t told God that get me this job…I just folded my hands and said thank you for this life. If you guys even reject me today then I won’t have any regrets because I believe I will somehow do something worthy with my life sir…”
The last statement is crucial. “I believe I will somehow do something worthwhile with my life.” I hear that statement again and again in my ears.
Fear needs to be replaced with excitement. That is what Raju did in 3 Idiots. That is what we need to do with our kids.
Majority of parents feel that being a parent is more difficult today than when they were raised. Ironically parents have more support today than they ever did. Do you remember nannies taking care of children when we were kids? Do you remember play schools when we were kids? Do you remember child specialists when we were kids? Do you remember so much exposure to sports, music, dance, arts and knowledge when we are kids?
Majority of parents still believe child parenting is more difficult today than ever before?
A survey was done among new age moms. They were asked are parents more stressed today? More than three-quarters (81 percent) agree that today’s moms are too concerned about how their baby compares to other babies. Half feel that parenting today has gotten away from the basics of the natural mother-and-child relationship (48 percent), and they admit to feeling stressed during baby’s first year to do all the right things to make their baby smart (47 percent).
Moms were asked to rate the importance of ten traits they would like their child to possess. Healthy and happy were foremost. What is interesting is that more moms rated secure, caring, confident, and moral as “very important” than they did smart. Here are the ten traits, in the order of the percentage of moms who rated them as very important:
Trait with the Percentage
- Healthy 98
- Happy 97
- Secure 95
- Caring 94
- Confident 94
- Moral 91
- Resilient 66
- Smart 65
- Social 61
- Spiritual 52
It is so beautiful that a generation ago, these were exactly what parents wanted in their kids. The difference is they could implement it. The new age is not able to implement it easily.
Be involved but not intrusive in your child’s life so that they develop a healthy sense of independence and can cope without you one day.
Till you are able to do that, here is a lighter look at how to parent ‘wi-fi crazy, smart phone addicted, kids’.
“Kids these days” phrase is either followed by an indiscipline issue or some form of technology obsession.
- Never put their phone down
- Always on social media.
- Using Whatsapp.
- Taking selfies.
The list goes on and on. Now, look at this clever, innovative, savvy mom. She uses her children’s obsession with wi-fi to her advantage. She holds onto the family’s Wi-Fi password as collateral (muuaaah) and promises release when they have completed the chores for the day. Classy! Sassy! Innovative parenting indeed.
What does she do? Before heading out for the day, she leaves her kids a note explaining what chores they need to complete. She withholds the Wi-Fi password until she receives a photo showing her that the designated tasks have been completed. Genius. No harsh words. Plain directions coupled with sense of humour. What a combination !!!
But, if your kids aren’t totally addicted to their technology, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Maybe holding onto their allowance will catch their attention. Maybe, a limit on screen time will catch their attention. Maybe, availability of easy food will catch their attention.
All you have to do is figure out your kid’s weakness and you’ll have a co-operative family in no time. And remember, not to feel guilty. You are doing what’s best for them… even if they beg to differ.