Parenthood is a journey to cherish, not a project to sponsor!

Mr. Sharma casually mentioned , “A laptop and ten thousand rupees was the birthday gift I gave my son this year when he turned fourteen”. I was speechless but gathered some courage to ask him slowly about the party if at all it was going to be thrown. Mr. Sharma left me speechless when he said ,”I organised an Innova (car!) on rent which took my son and his friends to various places to hangout (expenses to the tune of ten thousand).” Father’s love for the son was evident but the way to express it raised some concerns. Understandably, Mr. Sharma has a well established business and cannot spare time for his kid’s birthday. So he has managed to find a way out to make his son happy, or rather found an excuse for himself. But the parents of his son’s friends are in a quandary, as they are not so affluent and their kids arm-twist them for similar, exorbitant deals. I am specifically talking about adolescents here.

Parenthood is a journey. We parents are striking a deal and compromising with our kid’s quality time – its money vs quality time. Somewhere down the line, we parents have found a disturbing shortcut to parenting. I may sound very blunt but –“giving the best, providing facilities, looking after their needs with just your monetary means have an underlying meaning – it can be classified as Sponsorship, practically one is striking a deal, looking for temporary happiness while conveniently ignoring responsibility of sound parenting.

I am not suggesting even for a minute that we deprive them of anything. Only insisting that we make them realise the value of the same first. Let us introspect and ask these question to ourselves – Is investment for kids in terms of money only? What about investing some time, inculcating good habits, making good memories together? Being in nuclear families the onus of passing good values to our next-gen, sits heavy on our sole shoulders. And if we do not have time, then who they choose as their teachers can affect their tomorrow in either a good or a very damaging way.

Being a Mom of two grown up kids does not make me a master on parenting. But having lived with kids for the better part of my life as a teacher, as a parent, as a friend this is what I have learnt:

Be a step ahead of them. In these times it starts with being tech savvy. Ya we have mastered What’s App, now let us figure out the coding and hacking.

Question them on certain issues and give genuine feedback and advise as maybe the case. Be friendly but do not make them your friends.

They need you always but do not make them parasites. Teach them and guide them to be independent but never leave them on their own. Remember parenthood is a journey that never ends.

Do not breach their privacy but keep a track on their activities not by being Sherlock Holmes but by making them believe that you are their well-wishers.

Trust them but be vigilant by monitoring actions and behaviour at home instead of following them everywhere. Do not push them to a stage where they revolt.

We cannot wash our hands off and pass the buck (for anything that does not fall into place) whether it’s the blame for our child’s performance on to the schools or tuition centres just because we have paid the fees. It should be in our interest, to be in sync with the holistic development of our kids. It is therefore imperative for the parents to share a good rapport with the school authorities and other major influencers in their lives. This requires investment in terms of time and loads of patience.

Channelise their energies by helping them to develop a hobby or hone a skill. Focus on making them into good human beings rest will follow. Everything will fall into place and that’s a promise!

Most importantly please remember Time is not money, Time is our kids!

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Seema Bali

Seema Bali is Vice Principal, St. Mary’s School, Dwarka, India and has 20 years experience in teaching. Equipped with a Master’s degree in Science and Diploma in Industrial Pollution and Control,

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