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To Mollycoddle or To Let Go

Posted on Trivia – The Spice of Life on 26/11/2022

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I am sure all parents would have been told that life will be less stressful, once the children grow up and become more independent. The truth is that there are challenges at each stage of parenting. It is just that the conundrums of parents keep changing with the age of the child. Also each generation of parents feels that they have faced the toughest challenges in bringing their children up. You speak to your grandparents and that is what they will tell you with great relish. The point is that the challenges of each generation have been different and thus are not quite comparable. Technology is the biggest villain as well as hero of this generation. Today, monitoring gadgets that our children use is our biggest job as parents.

But the fact remains that our grandparents and parents perhaps knew exactly where to mollycoddle and where to let go. They brought us up as more confident individuals who could actually run small errands and do chores at a very young age – be it buying a packet of salt from the mom-and-pop store in the neighbourhood or even getting vegetables from the vegetable vendor. They were perhaps less paranoid and believed that the children could fend for themselves. I remember walking to school as a child, sometimes all alone as my friends would have already left. This entailed crossing a couple of roads which were quite busy and had cars and other vehicles zooming past. Yet, I do not remember my parents fretting. The belief that the child would learn on its own and that the passers-by would be compassionate always helped. There were no tracking apps as mobile phones had thankfully not emerged on the horizon. Yet, our parents would know what their child was up to. They would supervise the child without the child even realising this. The bonds in the neighbourhood were very strong and information would pass on even without twitter and other social media platforms.

Today, as we bring up our children, I realise that we have become over protective. We keep tracking the school bus on an app to ensure that the child has reached school safely. How many of our children can actually confidently walk on a busy road all alone? How many of them can actually buy milk or vegetables or groceries from the market without us worrying whether they have been able to cross the road safely? Lifestyles have changed completely because of which everything – be it groceries or even cooked food – is delivered at our door step. The confidence-boosting experience of running to the nearby store to buy milk for making tea for unannounced guests is something our children will never have.

Since we have cosseted our children excessively, many may end up hiring life coaches to teach them how to walk on the street or cross the road. Gone are the days when life would itself be the coach. Today’s children of middle class parents have to actually be taken to a street and made to learn how to walk on one or cross one carefully as many of them just get in and out of cars, cabs and school buses without having to walk a few steps. This has also led them to grow up as individuals sans empathy as they do not know the travails of the common man. Thus, they have to do projects on empathy and to learn how one can empathize. I speak from personal experience. The strategy our parents adopted while rearing us was extremely effective in making us independent, sensitive and confident individuals. I wish we could be like them. It takes a lot of courage to let go.

2 thoughts on “To Mollycoddle or To Let Go

  1. Anita,
    You have focussed on a reality of today. I doubt if it can be done any other way. The option of letting go is not really available. With both parents working there is a pressure to compensate by over-parenting. The environment has become immensely competitive. When we were children there was no notion of moving heaven and earth to get the child admitted to the best “English medium” school. A bright child should do well at any school. This attitude would be unthinkable today. My grandfather’s generation could have hardly imagined that for a 2 year old kid the parents would be willing to shell out lakhs of rupees to send her to a play school. The parent cannot afford to be left behind. I think we have to live with it.


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