5 years back, when my 8-year old daughter came and told me that she knew all about menstrual cycles, I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know how to react, especially because my mother had never discussed all these things with me till I was actually on the verge of it. But, after the initial shock, I was happy that I did not have to initiate this discussion with her and could freely have a talk with her on this subject, now that she already knew about it. Though I gave her a small introduction to it, I also told her that she need not worry about all that till sometime later.

You might be wondering why I started this blog on such a serious note. It is because this is what I want to discuss in this blog. Don’t you feel that the children of this generation are maturing too fast? Why is the innocence and childhood disappearing so quickly? In fact, the children of this age know a lot of things and are smarter than our generation. If I look back at my childhood, I was blissfully unaware of so many things happening around the world. Either I was innocent or I was totally stupid. :-). As per most of my friends, I fall in the latter category. 🙂

Well, I don’t want to deviate from the main topic….

On my son’s 8th birthday this year, we had invited a few of his friends, and were totally surprised by the use of their language and their topics of discussion. My son told me later that some of his friends used the ‘F’ word quite frequently and casually. What shocked me was the indifference of the parents who don’t stop their child from using such words. The child is probably growing up in a surrounding where such a language is being used and the child picks it up from them and uses them liberally, thinking it to be very cool. Or, it is their friends who teach them. Either way, the child needs to be told. We cannot control the child’s exposure, thanks to television and other social media, but we can definitely supervise and monitor what the child is learning and doing, and how he is talking and behaving, right?

One of my friends was telling me the other day that her young son’s older friends forcefully closed the door in their room in the house and showed him some dirty videos. The child felt so uncomfortable with all that and came back and told his mother all about it. I really appreciate the child for opening up to his mother, instead of brooding about it. In fact, such incidents can cause mental trauma to the kids unless they discuss it openly with their parents. As for his older friends, I am surprised that their parents allow them to access internet without any restrictions and supervision.

There are so many parents in our generation, who are handing over the phone to their child, to engage them so that they don’t bug them for their time. Or, it could be because the parents are bowing down under peer pressure and want to look liberal and cool. Agreed that we need to make our kids tech-savvy but it doesn’t mean that the child has to be given a smart phone at such a tender age. Whatever it is, the parents need to understand that the child is too young to understand the difference between good and bad. A couple of days back, my husband’s cousins had come to visit us and we were having a discussion on parenting. They told me that one of their cousin’s child, aged only 7, had a smartphone of his own. Also, he was actively on a Whatsapp group, which had people from the older generations. And, looks like everyone in the group cheered the child for being the youngest in the group. Imagine the kind of forwarded jokes that float around in the family and friend circles. Is it necessary for the child to be a part of all that adult discussion?

Well, I could just go on and on ranting about it but I would like to stop my rants and make a request to all the parents in my group:

  1. Please do take out time from your busy schedules and spend it with your child in a qualitative manner. Talk to them about what’s happening in their life. Even if their stories sound boring and unending, it is a major thing in their life. After all, we have also grown up doing exactly that. 🙂 Talking to them will make you understand what’s going on with them. Also, we need to put ourselves in their shoes while listening to them. Forget for the time being that you are the parent. Act like a friend. It helps. 🙂
  2. Please stop the child when he uses abusive language. Also, explain to him why his choice of words are not acceptable.
  3. Stop comparing, if possible. The other child in the class might score better than your child but we cannot expect every child to be a topper, right? Each child is special and needs time and space to grow. Don’t suffocate him.
  4. Agreed that we are living in a competitive world and our child needs to compete really well in order to beat all the competition. But, please don’t force your aspirations on the child. Give him some space and let him find out what he likes the best. There are many schools here which start preparing the child to become Engineers and Doctors at the tender age of 5 itself. Why are we forcing our children into this mad rat race?
  5. Have healthy discussions with them on all topics. In fact, teenage is the time when the kids get attracted to the opposite sex. This is completely normal and we have also gone through it in our growing-up years. My daughter is quite open with me and tells me about all her friends, including the boys. I listen to her and laugh with her and tell her stories of my own from my childhood.
  6. Lastly, please do not buy smartphones for your children till they are at least old enough to understand the rights and wrongs.

Let the child remain a child till we can help it. Let them grow in their own sweet time. What is the hurry of making them into an adult? Let’s preserve their innocence…

This song from Taare Zameen Par is so apt for it…

Dekho Inhen Yeh hain Os kee boondhen;

Patthon kee Godh mein aasmaan se khoode,

Naazuk se moti hans de phisal kar

Kho naa jaaye yeh taare zameen par…