Why are we obsessed about parenting?

Either way, it's a big deal today. You browse through parenting articles and Google throws you ******************websites/blogs. Phew. That's a lot. Our parents were not into such craziness, yet we all grew up to be fine, doing well, earning well, and living well.

I read somewhere that we have moved from 'fairly interested parents that our parents use to be to wholly invested parents.' Yes! And there is a reason behind this.


I shall touch upon few aspects, knowing very well that there are subtle, not so subtle, big and small aspects that contributed towards the current insanity. Are we sure it's insanity, or are we just responding to how the world is changing around us?

Do you know- An iPhone 7 has more processing power than the entire NASA organization had in 1969. That's around the time our parents were around adulthood, starting to work and forming families. And I can quote many such forces where the tidal wave of change will soon make life almost unrecognizable to our parents and the life they lived.

Take my case for an example, and many would resonate with it. 

One coconut oil was a perfect remedy from nappy rash to hair growth and body massage. But, my mother didn't have options. I have. So, what am I supposed to do? Make a choice to get obsessed with all kinds of oils available for each body part or stick to coconut oil?

On a given day, how many posts on parenting one gets to see in an FB group?  Ten or fifteen, each day. That makes roughly 300 each month covering all aspects of raising a child. How to talk to your child that he listens well? Why is yelling not good for your kids? How to keep your toddler engaged? How to have a perfect latch for proper breastfeeding? How to have an obedient teenager? We have it all. It's the awareness that has led to such a whopping amount of information being shared. So, what does it prove? Our parents never bothered much, yet the majority of us turned out to be okay. So, why are we fussing so much? We fuss because we have become aware. We fuss not to raise perfect kids for the next generation but TO DO OUR BEST as parents, and in that effort, we tend to get overboard.

My father was fairly interested in my life but wholly invested in academics. The Pandey Ji ka beta made my life miserable, and my life hung on 90% figure. 90% meant love, approval, positive regards, respect, and glorious life ahead. Many of us have lived school years hanging onto these numbers rather than pursuing what we wanted to.

Now, parents have become cautious because we know comparison doesn't help. They hit the self-esteem'. Mine was hit massively, and to many, it can have quite an impact. We are more aware of the consequences of such comparisons and fixation on the coveted 90%. Hence, we are on RED ALERT.

To my father, academics was everything and marks the deciding factor of life. So he would ensure we finished our homework before we ventured to play. And too much play always invited the sarcastic proverb- ‘पढ़ोगे लिखोगे बनोगे नवाब,खेलोगे कूदोगे बनोगे खराब। ' Literally translated, for the non-Hindi speakers it means- 'if you study you become a royal person if you don't you become a poor person.' We don't live by that adage, thank God.

I wanted to dance, paint and write. I wasn't allowed to because everyone was going to St. Stephen’s, Delhi. That was my destination, and I did land up there. Today I quit my 10 years of corporate life to pursue what I always wanted. I felt so stifled ‘being corporate.’ Quite true, then there weren't avenues for all kinds of 'Fiverr Gigs,' but today there is, and we want our children to explore, pursue what truly interests them and not what interests me, his mom. The world has given birth to Virat, Deepika, PV Sindhu, and Sakshi Malik. These are few names in the sports arena. We know Arijit Singh too, and the list is endless. What does it say?
There is a place for YOU even if you do not get 90% in your 12th boards. To me, it’s liberating.

Play to us was sand, soil, friends, and cousins around. But where are the sand, the dirt, and the park now? Where are the cousins? We all migrated from joint family or close-knit set up to highly nuclear and independent setup, and now can we crib? That gives entry to all kinds of toys which we never had. 

My mother was a Stay-at-home-Mom, and I remember how invested she was in my life. Today when both parents are chasing their career aspirations, 24*7 work demands (my father used to be back from work at 5 pm, his office being 15 minutes away), traffic woes, and job insecurity (our parents were pretty much wedded to the organization they served), a child does get his share of inattention too. When we grew up, my mom started working. She made it a point to be back home by 4. Today, even if we are back, we are constantly pinging and ringing. This madness wasn't invented by us, but we are the contributors and the victim.

My safety and security weren't a BIG deal to my father because the world wasn’t Whatsapped or Facebooked then. Bad things happened but weren't televised the way they are served on our platter today. One starts the day reading about child molestation and ends the day reading about rape.  It scares us. Scares the shit out of us. So we go overboard with protection. Back then, I use to cycle my way back from Math’s tuition at 10 pm through a desolate patch and found my parents standing on the balcony but not paranoid.

My parents had an old landline telephone and a TV that came when I was in 5th standard. Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Sunday movies were all that I knew. Today we are Applefied, Facebooked, Instagrammed, Stumbled, Snapchatted, and Amazoned.  Who is using all this? US. We are contributing to this frenzy, affecting our parenting style, and now we want to go back to old-school parenting. Why? For that to happen, we would need to alienate from the world that we exist in?

Why are we so much on red alert with what food our child consumes?
Because food has become adulterated in manifold ways. The cases of childhood cancer and other diseases, in general, have been on the rise. Pesticide contamination is on the rise. We have plastic rice getting produced, artificially created eggs, and all kinds of impurities posing a significant health hazard. The population has surpassed China as per one of the reports, and to meet the ever-increasing demand of the hungry population coupled with the greed that comes with capitalism and to get a piece of that scarce pie, we are in deep trouble. Hence, the madness about food.

Did it exist before? Maybe /maybe not. And even if it did, our parents knew only one thing- buy the vegetable from the vegetable seller, wash it well and cook.

We live in a golden age of information – blogs, podcasts, newsletters, videos, chats, groups, and more. Google has become our classroom. Our network is our extended brain. Awareness has come as a blessing, but like any other thing in life, it becomes a bane and ceases to be a boon when we stretch it beyond.

How do we expect to give our children the childhood we had? We lived in Doordarshan times, and they live in iPhone times.

Our patience levels have dipped, the irritability levels are rising, and we are forever sending or receiving information.

Our parents married and lived until death do them apart. We live in a different society now defined by all kinds of complicated relationships, and hence we are a different set of parents from what our parents were. Our children witness different wife-husband dynamics than what we witnessed.

The nature of the world has changed. An 8-year-old girl wants her body hair to be waxed? Why? We never wanted to? Peer pressure is such. But we did what was existing during that era.  I, too, wanted that Barbie doll that my friend Anwita had.

With the kind of mobile phone addiction that we all have reached, isn't it perfectly normal for parents to get into a spiral of not letting this addiction get onto their children? Hence, comes all the articles, tips and tricks, and hacks about saving your child from excess digitalization.


So, what do we do? Can we go back to old-school parenting? Can we not be bothered about homework and guitar classes? Can we stop worrying about the food the child eats and getting anxious over the weekend sleepover with his friends? No, we cannot unless we start inhabiting some other planet.

We can only try to strike a balance and change ourselves first.

If we play with him in the sandpit, he will. We have to stop fiddling with our phones first.

If we want him to enjoy his childhood, we will have to eliminate comparisons that we make for ourselves and our children.

No one is asking us to cocoon our children and not let them make mistakes. In fact, we as parents are more tolerant of mistakes and do not shout - "You don't even know how to drink your milk properly." We know the beauty of mistakes and let them do. Our awareness has helped us. 

If we want him to be more in touch with the real world, the way we were, we need to take a vacation and go and visit the grandparents’ house and not some exotic locale with the family...posing, clicking, and sharing. I am not against a vacation In Italy, but our parents never took us beyond Nainital. And Nainital happened to us once, not every holiday.

It’s great if your son is learning to play the guitar. But you need to know where to draw the line. He enjoys guitar, then why not. It’s not about having a skillful childhood. It's about nurturing an interest. I wish  I had got that opportunity when I was growing up. 

If we feel that we want to bring up our child differently, we need to be courageous enough to move out of the way society has designed itself now. We need to redefine the way we are. Till then, let's make an attempt to coexist with the enormous change flooding our life in all possible ways and spend more time with our children. That is in our control, and that will take care of any jitters. So go and play ludo with him tonight. What's stopping you?

My parents were not perfect, and I am not a perfect parent either. I wonder if there would be an ideal parenting generation ever? They did their best in the times they lived; I am doing my best in the times I breathe in. Back then, having two or more children was not questioned. Today having even one child is thought, thought again, planned, then planned some more, conceived, and then delivered. My mother-in-law says- 'every child comes with his own destiny, so have more kids.' To agree or disagree is not the purpose. Times have changed ...that's all.


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