Was the previous generation better at parenting?

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It is an obvious and undeniable truth that today the world is changing at a rapid pace. There seems to have been a revolution in everything we do and everything we believe in the past decade or so. Ideas, ideals, morals, ethics and general human behavior and attitude toward everything have rapidly been modified by the changes all around us. Our lifestyle, habits, hobbies and day-to-day activities have all experienced a change.

There is no doubt that with everything around us happening so fast, we are left with too little time to accomplish all the tasks that need to be completed. Life is now more demanding than ever. Economic crises, the sky-high prices of just about everything and inflation make jobs or working around the clock for some not a choice, but a necessity. Due to all this, it has been observed that there has been a radical change in parenting.

More and more incidents are coming to our attention indicating that a drastic transformation has occurred in parenting. In a time where basic tasks like feeding, cleaning and educating have been made easy, parenting is now viewed as an utterly exhausting endeavor. Now, more than ever, bringing up children is seen to be a more arduous task than ever. This leads us to question whether we are just not good enough or are worse parents than the mothers and fathers of previous generations.

The reason that parenting is now perceived to be such a complex business is that too much is expected of adults. Parents are expected to be perfect in every parenting technique: the perfect diet, good school grades and making your children excel at extracurricular activities. To do this on top of exhaustingly providing for the upkeep of your children along with paying basic utility bills is really a lot for parents to juggle, leaving little or no time for themselves.

Recent events shed light on the changes that have been brought about. A man was arrested on child abuse charges for leaving his children aged 8,7,5,3 and 1 alone at home. When questioned, the 30-year-old explained that his wife had stage-four cancer and the only way to pay the medical bills was to work. This does not mean that the man was a bad father, but rather that he was trying his best to make ends meet.

Look at the recent case of the homeless woman who left her child in the car during a job interview. She was later arrested for her negligence in doing so. She left her child alone and in doing so put him in harm’s way. We also have the case of the woman who let her child play at the park while she worked. Both these incidents indicate a lack of safety for the child and irresponsibility on the part of the parent. However, they both have one thing in common: The women had to work or rather look for work in the former’s case.

Both the incidents mentioned above could have been avoided if the women had been willing to seek help. Daycare centers are costly but the women could have easily left the child with a relative, a trusted neighbor or friend.

This leads us to our next point, which is that parents nowadays are afraid to ask for help in parenting, fearing doing so would lead people to speculate on their parenting abilities and judging them as parents. This is a major difference between parenting then and parenting now. In the past, parents would look to the community and extended family for help and tips on raising their children. This is a key difference which highlights why parenting is so different and thought to be more complicated. With everything being so fast paced and competitive, people do not ask for help, which is exactly why everything seems so unmanageable.

However, there are always two sides to a coin. Parenting not only affects the parents but also has a deep impact on the children. Owing to the crazy schedules and the never-ending list of tasks, parents now spend less and less time with their children. This in turn leads to children feeling lonely or neglected which is not at all healthy for their mental development in the long run. The fact that parents do not have enough time for their children reflects itself in the personality of the children that they are raising. Children are now more aggressive, rude and misbehaved than before.

The advent of technology is another aspect that has changed parenting techniques. Parents do not really have time to play with their children or engage in outdoor activities. Usually parents are so tired or frustrated due to the grind of daily life that they leave their children to play with some gadget or the other to get them out of their hair. This in turn proves to be detrimental to the health of children. They are stuck all day with their nose in a tablet or a computer while they forget to experience the joy of playing outdoors and learning something new.

Although all the aspects discussed above make parenting very difficult in the present day, we must somehow try to strike a balance. Studies and surveys indicate that our grandparents’ generation was much happier raising children than we are. There is a definitive difference between our parenting techniques and views and theirs. We must decide where to draw the line on these rapid changes. The workload may be immense but parents should know that it is okay to enlist help. Talk to your parents and ask for their help in bringing up your children. Mothers who work long hours in the office and have to manage a household should rethink and maybe get a job with shorter hours and try to compensate by working from home. With the present rate of inflation and increase in prices, parents should avoid luxuries which are only a status symbol and should instead concentrate on the basic needs of life. This will surely go a long way in promoting mental peace, contentment and financial security. Try to relax instead of stressing yourself out and holding yourself and your children to high standards. Try taking a leaf out of our grandparents’ book. You may yet see wonders when you embrace a simpler lifestyle that can be a turning point for your parenting journey.

Bisha Ishtiaq


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