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Guess what? You don’t really need training in parenting skills, you already have them! A hilarious look at 21st century parenting.
Here I was attending a seminar on parenting. The moment the brilliant speaker started mentioning the list of things you should never tell or do to your kids, I feel like ducking beneath my chair. Has someone installed secret CCTV in my house … oops he is telling my story of parenting. Are you speaking in negative tones with your child? Are you guilty of spending less time with them and therefore you indulge them with luxuries? Are you an anxious, helicopter parent? Do you yell at them? Do you compare your kids with others? And the list went on.
“Bad parenting”, he chuckled, quite sure he alarmed and embarrassed many of us sitting there. I was extremely sure I fell in the category of the bad parent. Now what should I do… Is there a time machine, can I revisit and rectify my wrong doings. Just as if he has read my mind and body language, the speaker presented us with a set of parenting skills which made parenting look like Oh ! Wow so easy if you just follow the steps.
I marched home confidently eager to experiment my new set of skills. Just like how after every PTA, I go armed with ‘how I will improve my child’ pledges. Reminds me of last time when I had vowed to talk only in English with my kid…. he squirmed as his every remark in Hindi got me responding in English with a careful selection of the most sophisticated words from vocabulary hoping he picks them up. He did try to respond but then he discovered my attention was more towards correcting his grammatical mistakes than listening to him. He soon switched back to Hindi or responded in monosyllables to my phrase filled English sentences.
Often while watching kids reality shows with amazing talents on display or the even otherwise during every sports day and annual day, my dreaming mind starts placing my child in the shoes of the winners and if I discover even a slight interest in my child towards the activity, I start strategizing how to motivate him to go on the same track. My ultra smart kid has now understood my intentions and before I start my motivational speech he quickly declares he is not interested in that sport, dance or hobby and won’t join any class for the same. It took him a while however to figure out why I pressurised him always to roam around corners in malls where kids activity were going on. Poor fellow as a kid had often fallen in my trap and sat there making drawing or singing songs and rhymes to even shaking a leg, much to his embarrassment. I soon realized my game was up when he suddenly wanted to go home or washroom as we neared any activity corner in the mall. Now I am figuring out some new traps for him thinking maybe tomorrow he may thank me for discovering his innate hidden talents.
With every parenting workshop, article and seminars and PTA, my list of banned objects keeps increasing. So there out you go — kurkure with plastic, TV, mobile, play zones in malls, junk food etc. Of course my child how to get them back in his life… A slight fever or hurt is enough to push my panic buttons and to jump back to normalcy from the anxiety, I immediately offer him the banned list things… and surprisingly before medicines can act these things work like magic. The blue whale news however was however too strong for me to digest and there after mobile phones were completely off the tempting list.
Of course now social media and Goggle have taken the onus of teaching us everything we need to learn to sustain including parenting. Every time the light on my mobile blinks and a volley of messages appear on the parent’s whatsapp group, I sigh. Somehow the active parents with almost every know how of what their child and even other children did in school, what happened in school etc etc put me into a serious thinking mode as I have limited information and even after prodding my child I fail miserably to fish out such information. The parent-teacher meets further make me question myself. The other mothers have so many questions to ask, while I have to rack my brains to ask even one. Most of my interactions with my child’s teacher end in a minute. I really feel pressurized by glances of other parents to force myself to ask more questions just to prove my parenting skills are intact and operational.
When parents put the pictures of their kids with medals in games, dance, olympiads and even their clean, methodical classwork in most beautiful writing I get transposed to a dream world where I am that proud mother gathering all accolades for my prodigy. However to cut short, my reverie is short lived as my child runs to me with a shabbily written answer which he managed to complete in an hour… hi there reality thanks for gate-crashing in my dream. So I leave this technologically fuelled wonderful parenting platform where everyone except me and very few are doing everything right as a parent. I revert back to being my invisible parasitic self on these whatsapp parents groups gorging all information and seldom providing any. Of course these whatsapp groups are a boon for struggling and helpless parents whose children seldom remember other home works apart from the ones where the teacher has asked them to use the computer so that sneakingly they can buy that extra time to play a little game or two on the banned computer or mobile under the pretext of doing homework.
I think why we need skills for parenting has lot to do with evolution which has bestowed are little angles with much more intellect then us. Gone are the days when they said be a friend to your child when they can fit in your shoes,, I think the adage now changes to be a friend to your child when the child is able to do all operations on your phone,,, many which even you were unaware of .
It’s okay to stumble. We are non-technology age parents and they are tech age kids who have seen computers and mobile phones from the time they opened their eyes. Parenting for that matter must have been equally difficult in all centuries. I wonder how my mother kept me entertained without a computer, TV and mobile. Must have been a big pressure on her. At the end of the day when my child hugs me and says I am the best mom in the world it makes me trust my parenting skills and believe that when you become a parent, you automatically transform into the best one for your child. You don’t need training in parenting skills, you already have them!
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I am a post doctorate in social sciences, specializing in education. An assistant professor at
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