Being a parent has been the most rewarding experience of my life. As I had recalled the birth of the mother in me in my previous post, the many phases of life that I had conveniently slid under the carpet has come out from hiding and are facing me now and forcing me to find answers to some of the things that I have done or not done.
As a primary school student, my son never lost more than a mark or two in any of his test papers. I was managing an infant and a Kindergarten student at the same time. I had a maid who used to come in for cleaning the house on alternate days. With running a home and bringing up two children two years apart, I barely had time to sit down and think about what is happening in the world outside. But come to think of it, internet was basically only catching up then and we mostly used it for emails and finding and chatting with friends online. Google was not a daily must in those days.
The school didn’t have websites back then. School diary and circulars provided the communication channel between the parents and the teachers. Now there are assignments online, teachers are just an email away and even old question papers are put up online for the ease of the children. No circulars are brought home. They are put up online and an SMS is sent to the parent’s mobile number to inform that a circular has been uploaded. The world wide web has revolutionized even the Indian Education system here.
I am an IT person. During my stint as a schoolteacher, I had first hand knowledge and experience on the working of a School Portal. These are, for most parts, still a work in progress. But with time, new features are being added and innovative ways of making student’s, parent’s and the teacher’s lives a lot easier, are being brought in.
My kids work on every kind of smart device with ease. This is nothing new. Even a 5-year-old can work on a laptop now! Most of these kids are on social networking sites. Either on their own ids, or ids of their parents, or on ids which their parents know nothing about. The world is a scary place. Leaving the kids online has become equally dangerous as leaving these kids alone outside in the real world. Everything real is online now. And kids have 24 hours access to them, thanks to the WiFi and the smart phone revolution.
So how much of supervision can a parent do? Most parents of teenagers these days will tell you how impossible a task it is to monitor the online life of their growing teenagers. As if bringing up teenagers wasn’t a challenge in itself, bringing up teenagers in a Facebook era makes it even worse.
A child who is absolutely well versed in good practices of the web already at age 10 , can turn into a totally different person by age 14. That is something that every parent has to accept. How much ever we try to bring out the good things in our children, the bad things in them come out too. And in many ways it is better if it does come out when they are still under our supervision, we can still help them through the consequences, we can still guide them into the right way as perceived by us.
If we curb the child from making his/her own mistakes, for the fear of the hurt and the failure factor, we end up trying to teach children lessons from our own experiences. But the fact remains that in our generation there was no mobile phone, there was no internet and there was not a single mall that had to be visited. We are making new rules to guide our new teenagers. We are paving a path for a generation that will be more exposed to the happenings of the outside world than we ever were.
How many of us are really prepared to face the challenges of parenting in this era? I doubt if anyone can come up and say, I can give you a list of do’s to make a better generation. But I am definitely sure that atleast a few of us can talk about a certain list of don’ts that can be helpful to the next generation of parents.
I am looking forward to getting a few such tips from parents of teenagers here, who will not tell me how to bring up my children or for that matter judge me on my parenting methods, but will help enhance those methods with the wisdom of their experiences.
Jyothi Nair lives in Dubai with her husband and her two teenagers. She is a stay at home mom at present. She is an Engineer by Profession and a Photographer by Passion. She blogs at Jyothi’s Musings and Jyothi’s Gallery.