When a child is born, his first connection with the world is established by his mother or, in the broadest sense, by his parents. An infant sees the world through the eyes of his parents; he tries to assimilate everything she recognizes in her parents. Thus, the parent-child relationship lays the foundation for ‘building his life’. Parenting means raising a child. It is like the nutrition a plant needs to become a large and fruitful tree. Therefore, for a child to be a wonderful human being, good parenting is essential.
The style of parenting varies from culture to culture, the value system is divided on some of the main aspects of parenting, exemplified by the comparison of the Indian style with the Western style.
India is a country of diverse traditions, rooted in a common value system. Since the practice of joint families is still prevalent in India, a child is brought up in an environment where he learns to appreciate people and relationships. It is more important to cultivate moral values than to take care of a child’s physical development at an early age. Indian parents firmly believe that their child is part of a family and community and it is of paramount importance that the child understands that whatever decision they take and every action they take is the result for the whole family and community.
Forty or more years ago, good parents were the ones who taught their children to be polite, respectful and responsible, according to Diane Wagenhall, director of the Parent Resource and Education Network. They are more concerned with basic things like food and shelter. Supplementary doubts like dressing appropriately, sitting up straight, providing with a balanced diet and regular vaccinations were rarely paid attention. But in present time, the definition of parenting is advancing almost every single day, resulting in dramatically increase in the difficulties and challenges faced by parents.
To understand the difficulties and challenges that parents face today, we must understand the more complex and altered dynamics.
Parenting during Covid-19
The COVID-19 health crisis has brought incredible change to families around the world. According to UNESCO, more than 1.5 billion students in 165 nations have been affected by school closures. The majority of these are primary and secondary school students. They have had to adapt quickly to the online educational opportunities that the government and schools have taken to deliver. But, for millions of pre-schoolers, the sources of safety, comfort, social interaction, and mental stimulation that are found in the familiar routines and structures provided by the activities planned in the school, have suddenly been stripped away.
As homes multitask for office, school and living space, parents are now keeping themselves in bondage. They have as much extended time with their children as they always want, but the pressure to juggle with multiple roles without support structures has proven to be stressful, giving them less quality time to enjoy parenting.
A survey conducted by the Indian Psychiatric Society found that there has been a 20 per cent increase in mental illnesses since the onset of the epidemic, indicating high levels of stress in society as a whole. Young children pick up their parents ’moods and worries quickly and these impressions can carry on for a long time.
Maintaining a balance between parenting duties and work has become quite stressful for today’s parents which makes them find parenting very challenging. What are some of the most common parenting challenges that parents face in their daily lives? Let’s take a look at them.
Balancing family and career
Parents often feel struggling between professional and personal/parenting duties. When they focus on one, they feel like they are ignoring the other! This is a common dilemma for today’s parents, who often have a busy schedule.
There are so many demands on today’s parents, it is a challenge for them to prepare and deliver the gift of time on a regular basis. Likewise, many children have packed a post-school schedule that allows them to spend time with their parents and siblings, prepare meals together, do household chores, and enjoy each other’s company.
A race of perfection
There is a lot of pressure for the best sleeper, the smartest baby, the most beautiful baby, and so on. There is a lot of pressure to breastfeed, feed nutritious meals, stay active, and so on, which might result in parents rushing to make bad parenting decisions and feeling guilty for not being able to do all the things perfectly.
The economic situation has put a lot of pressure on parents to make enough money to meet the rising cost of education. Parents then feel the added pressure to ensure that their children succeed in school so that they can compete competitively when they graduate and enter the job market. Excessive pressure on parent-child relationships is not healthy.
Overload of information
In a generation exposed to a lot of information about how to parent the children, parents struggle to find their own unique way of parenting. In current time, Parents are much more educated than previous generations but sometimes it leads to information overload with different opinions on the same subject. There is no ‘one size fits all’ mantra and with such conflicting advice, it leaves parents wondering which choice is best.
Kids not listening
Getting kids to pay attention to what the parents mean is one of the biggest challenges parents face these days. Parents should try hard to have a strong relationship with their child. Instead of spending time and ordering, Parents can try making eye contact and express expectations directly and clearly.
Scarcity of Time
One of the most pressing parenting challenges facing many parents today is lack of time. In twenty-four hours a day, they have to spend time between many tasks – completing office tasks, doing household chores, taking care of children and of course setting aside some time for themselves which becomes almost impossible. Parents face difficulties in allocating the best possible time for each task. However, if the same tasks are planned with better time management, parents can reserve time for all tasks without letting their children get into any trouble. They can’t move on and focus only on office duties while ignoring their parenting job. Children need proper attention from parents and if their needs are not addressed, they can fall victim to ignorance and fall prey to inferiority complexes. Therefore, no matter how busy their work routines may be, parents have to set aside some time for their children. If parents are extremely busy or stuck somewhere they might consider to explain to their children why they cannot be available to them and teach them ways to become self-reliant when they are not around their children.
Today’s children are deprived of sleep and this hinders their physical and mental health which is a concern for most parents. They need to push their kids and find out what works because proper rest at night is very important for overall health and development.
The immersion of children in the Internet is huge. The risks are also huge. Therefore, using age-appropriate filters, negotiating content, monitoring and supervising the children are one of the biggest challenges that Parents face.
Failure in Imparting Moral Values
Numerous studies have repeatedly shown that most children engage in unwanted activities because they have not been taught proper moral values by their parents. Due to the lack of ethical principles, they fail to distinguish between right and wrong and are more attracted to achieving inappropriate behaviour patterns. With the increasing use of technology and gadgets, children are attracted to the negative side of the internet if their activity is not monitored by their parents. Ignoring their studies, they focus more on playing games on the internet or constantly talking to their friends on social media. They are exposed to movies, especially pornographic material and other forms of sexuality on the Internet, which they should avoid. This can seriously damage their naive behaviour and lead them down a bad path. As parents spend less time with their children, they sometimes monitor changes in their behaviour. Therefore, if parents engage in their work assignments and other household chores without paying attention to their children, they may put them at greater risk.
Another challenge of modern parenting these days is unbalanced life. It is the fact that we cannot neglect our essential duties of life which include home, office, children and other personal needs. While creating a balance between these tasks can be crucial, if it is not well managed, you can definitely go down the drain. Parents who fail to strike a balance between all these requirements may have to witness a very unbalanced life.
In order to balance an unbalanced life and become effective parents, they need to plan ahead for ways to fulfill the essential duties of life. This is the only key to meeting the challenges of parenting. Once they realize the potential imbalance in life, they can be prepared to face it and even respond positively to it in the best possible way.
Lack of Emotional Bonding
Lack of emotional attachment is also one of the parenting challenges that parents often face. Not spending enough time with their children makes them unable to form an emotional bond with them, as a result children are hesitant to open up with their parents, avoid sharing their troubles with their parents and instead draw the attention of their peers. Knowing and understanding feelings as well as emotions is very necessary to create an emotional bond between the two parties. When the bond between parents and children is not or is broken, children usually get lost in their imaginary world. They can be emotionally devastated, feeling lonely.
Undoubtedly, parents have become very aware of the importance of good nutrition and work hard for it, but nonetheless, children today suffer from malnutrition.
Increasing contamination in food and milk has posed a major obstacle to providing adequate nutrition to children. Due to the complex life, the concept of eating freshly cooked food has also faded over time. The availability of junk food everywhere has further challenged the way children eat today.
In most places like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, the food is cooked once a week, kept in the refrigerator and eaten for the whole week. Although the variety, tastes and options in the menu have improved over time due to the doubling of parental income, nutrition is still a concern.
Excessive use of chemicals and pesticides has degraded the nutritional value of food. These days children are suffering from growing diseases and their immune system is weakened.
Excessive use of gadgets
Not a day goes by when children do not use gadgets to play games on mobiles, iPads or laptops. It is said that children of the 90’s were the last generation to play on the roads.
Nowadays, kids are completely stuck on the screen, as there are so many apps to distract them. You will notice that children are increasingly having vision problems due to frequent exposure to the screen.
In addition, the development of physical and motor skills is affected when children do not get enough movement while playing outside. Children are becoming increasingly obese or overweight, something that was never seen in the older generation.
Keeping children away from gadgets is another challenge for parents today. Parents really have to force kids to go out and play instead of playing games on the phone. If screen exposure is not reduced, it will have a very bad effect on the physical and mental development of children.
Peer pressure is also mounting on children to use mobiles and iPads. At social gatherings or outings, you will see children playing games etc using apps on the phone. Kids are encouraged to use these gadgets more and more by looking at each other.
Today’s children do not listen to anyone. You will see that they respond to you, argue and do what they choose to do. Once they become teenagers, they can’t tolerate anyone’s interference in life, not even their parents.
So why are kids so aggressive these days? Overall, if you look, we as a society have evolved to be swollen and less tolerant. Fights and arguments are common at home.
The movies we watch are full of action and violence. Cartoon shows are also full of negative symptoms of anger and violence. Children are exposed to insecurity, stress, negativity, aggression from the beginning.
At times, Parents may find it very difficult to bring their child to their terms. Children misbehave, get upset, throw things or hit their parents when they are told to do something they don’t like.
This behaviour is sometimes very upsetting, and Parents might have to make a lot of effort to calm their children down.
Today a child is expected to be perfect in all ways to be accepted by his peers at school. If a child does not speak well or is weak in study, it is usually assessed by his peers.
You will find that if a child is shy in socializing, he will have a hard time making friends at school.
Times have changed, and even children have become very critical about each other. Young children may become a victim of bullying, ridicule, and isolation by their peers.
Life is no longer easy and simple for parents these days. There are a lot of problems to handle from the early years of school. At some point, the child is beaten or becomes the victim of another child’s aggression. At other times, he was ridiculed because he did not perform as well as expected in his class.
So, parents these days have to put a lot of effort into helping their child socially adapt to the expected standards.
Too much study pressure
Today, even a 10-year-old child studies about 10 hours a day. The competition is fierce. To make children competitive they have to be sent for extra after school classes.
Children are sent for Abacus classes, Vedic mathematic classes, reading and writing classes, etc. to take competitive advantages over others. Getting children to study hard puts a lot of pressure on parents.
Parents need to make extra efforts to pick up and drop off children and improve the things they are taught in these extra classes. It also adds a little more financial burden on parents who spend a lot on these extra classes.
The whole study method has evolved over time. To survive in such a throat cutting competition the kids have to study and stay up to the mark.
Protecting kids against child abuse
In India, 53% of children are sexually or physically abused. Cases of rape and murder are also rising at an alarming rate, as reported by the National Crime Records Bureau. The changing complexities of life have given children a variety of challenges in the present times.
Parents always need to be more aware of their child. Children need to be protected and monitored at every step. Even when children have gone on play dates, parents need to keep in touch with their friends ’parents and constantly check on them.
The baby in particular needs to be protected at all times. Parents do not allow little girls to go to the elevator on their own. They need to be taken to the playground and watched eagerly for their safety. Sending them to a neighbour is also not safe nowadays.
Little girls need to be wary of male servants like drivers, cooks etc. Over time the moral values of the society have completely vanished. It is scary for parents to read and learn about dirty things happening to children.
Therefore, parental anxiety has increased over time. There is so much more to save your baby. Media, technology, strangers are all a threat to your child.
If parents really want to focus on the healthy upbringing of the child, they need constant supervision for the children these days. Obviously, this has made things more difficult for parents as well as children. These factors have multiplied the stress of parenting many times over, and many parents experience constant fatigue due to the above challenges.