Dear Parents,

Parenting, as you’d all agree, is a journey that lasts a lifetime, bringing with it a melange of experiences and emotions each day, through which not only do our children grow but we too evolve as adults of different ages. We learn from mistakes and through experimentation, and eventually realise that there is no single, sure-shot strategy to ‘good parenting’.

It is interesting how parents tend to think that things will get less stressful as the child grows, only to recognise that only the nature of responsibilities changes and not the parental function as it is. You remain a worrying, protective parent no matter how many years pass. Different reasons for different seasons.

However, the early years are the most difficult to navigate and now, more than ever before, it has become a walk on eggshells. There are no fixed templates to follow, although rule books will serve as signposts.

One of the new age parenting rules is not to use the words, “when I was your age or when we children…” and then go on to extol your simple, disciplined, obedient, gadget-free, studious, and all the other virtues you think you had possessed at that time, but children these days severely lack.

Know this for a fact – children don’t like to be compared, even if it is with a version of your own childhood. It may be to drive home a point, in terms of how modest growing up in the past used to be vis-a-vis the demanding ways of modern childhood, yet they are going to scoff at it. Any such comparison will be treated with juvenile contempt and raise their ire.

It is true that children these days have a lot more privileges than we used to enjoy back in the day, but these are privileges we have granted them and when they stretch their demands, thanks to their exposure to newfangled things, we pull out the “when we were children we never used to…” rhetoric.

The truth is, times have changed and we cannot expect our children to comprehend the simplicity of our times. While it serves to apprise them of the ways we lived, let us do it in a way that does not frustrate them. Sharing our old stories should be done in a manner that would make them count their blessings and feel fortunate to be born in a world of cool conveniences. Let the tone be not accusatory; let it be one that inspires gratitude.

It is not easy in these days of over-indulgence and material abundance to make children realise the value of the perks they enjoy in life. It is often taken for granted and one of the ways to teach them responsible attitude is by setting an example. Be what you what want them to be. When it comes to possessions, teach them the difference between wants and needs. Tell them how money is directly linked to hard work and dedication. Give them a taste of delayed gratification by teaching them to wait and strive for something they aim to possess. In all these, demonstrate by action what you mean and let them see how nothing in life comes easy.

The world has come a long way since we were children and it will be hard to make our children practise life the way we did, but what remains unchanged are life principles. It’s when we find conducive ways to teach them these principles that we too grow as parents, day by day. Until next, happy parenting.

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