‘How will I raise my child in this world?’ You might have come across at least one parent who voices this concern. It came as a shock when a Class XI student allegedly killed a junior student to defer an exam and parent-teacher meeting. The fact is, almost all the parents today dread the thought of raising kids safely in this age of cyber crimes and disturbing news involving children and their safety, both physical and mental. The outcome is they are over concerned and over-protective, which ultimately leads to parental paranoia.
What causes this fear and how can we tackle it? “I think what happens around instills the fear in parents,” says Hema, a lawyer and mother of two. In her opinion, the fear is there in every parent’s mind. “But, I don’t pass on the fear to my children. I believe in training them for life. I tell them how to handle a difficult situation,” she adds.
But not all parents are like Hema. Another parent, who wants to remain anonymous, says, “I am afraid to let my child go out alone. I am worried if anything would happen to him. This is what we read in the news these days, right?”
So, that is the problem; they are anxious. Vinaya Sarath, Principal of Aadhyakshari Pre-School, Kadavanthara, says, “I have been teaching for the past 15 years. I have seen the attitude of young parents changing over time. When I was a young parent, we had an entirely different attitude compared to the current generation of young parents. We were confident. The current generation may be more informative, but they are anxious. That reflects in their parenting too.”
Vinaya agrees that enough incidents have happened in our society to trigger this anxiety. At the same, she believes the fear shouldn’t go overboard. “The emotional quotient is going down. They are over concerned. I have seen parents who carry even 5-year-olds in their arms to school because they fear something would happen to the child on the crowded road.”
According to psychologist C.J. John, this panic is due to lack of proper communication between the child and parents. “You get scared when you tread an unknown territory. Similarly, fear creeps in when you don’t know your child. Unfortunately, most of our parents are like that. They are quite busy in their own worlds and they hardly get time for their children. This subsequently leads to over concern, which is suffocating for children. Instead of enhancing the communication part, we are moving to a culture where the parent becomes suspicious. It would make the child rebellious,” he opines. “In most cases, when an issue arises, parents would be the last persons to know about it.”
How can we deal with it? “Be democratic,” suggests C.J. John. “A parent shouldn’t be authoritative. There should be enough democracy, appropriate for the age, when you handle issues. Try to understand them. Don’t treat a small mistake like a criminal offence; resolve it through proper communication. Create a space for your child to say ‘Sorry, I have done wrong’.”
In Hema’s opinion, equip children to confront situations rather than keeping them under one's wings forever. “Don’t create a fancy world for your children. Tell them reality. Tell them there would be difficult situations and failures and prepare them to handle those. Give them real-life examples. After a point in life, they shouldn’t feel that ‘so far life has been good as my parents were there for me, now what will I do?’ Just make sure that your child is safe and let them evolve themselves,” says Hema, while Vinaya feels that parents should get to know more about their children. “You cannot bring up your child within the four walls of home or just in the company of gadgets. There should be an interaction with all people. Parents should know what their child is doing. Outside India, it is a must that parents should be part of students’ activities. Here, they come to the scene only when an issue pops up. That should change. Young parents should find time to do that,” says Vinaya....