Parents: Year 1990, parents constitutes of Mother and Father. Year 2013, parents constitute of Mother, Father and MEDIA – Yes! Media has become the 3rd parent. These were mere means of entertainment earlier but now movies, TV serials, advertisements, cartoons etc. have huge impact on them. They pick up language, behavior, relationships, moralities, religion, values, what to buy, what to wear, what to eat, what to play.. and the list goes on. As biological parents, we may not like it, we may not approve of it, we may even hate it but the truth is Media is the 3rd parent. The parent that literally spends the most time with them.
Let’s make a start today. The first step is to accept the power of Media, the shift we are asking you to make is the shift from ‘parenting vs. media’ to ‘parenting and media’. Media / technology is great – lets embrace it, let’s look at ways and means to leverage it, rather than fight it.
Let’s look at the world – It has changed most rapidly and most dramatically in the last 20 years. Few examples are…
- Facilities have grown
- Parameters of success have changed
- Technology is changing by the minute
- Knowledge is freely available
- Moralities have undergone drastic shifts
And the list goes on…..
What worked 20 years back does not work anymore.
In these few years we have seen the following too:
- Stress levels going up
- Mental, emotional, physical and social health issues growing all across
- Suicide rates, psychological disorders, drug addiction, alcoholism etc increasing at an alarming rate
- Family values, respect, morality, safety taking a plunge
- Competition replacing Cooperation….
We as parents haven’t looked at these aspects as a shift in the environment and the CRITICALITY to adapt to the environment. Parenting was thought to be a natural skill for parents. Given the dynamics of the environment, the methods learnt from the last generation don’t work anymore.
It’s like a driver who has been driving in India for years and can call himself/herself to be an expert lands up in US. In US the person would have to acquire new skills
- Left hand driving – the need to switch hands for every control,
- Driving on the right side of the road – no more free left turns!
- Traffic rules (and even the need to follow them)
And it’s a different world to “know” about these changes but it’s another world to drive in this situation.
For parenting too – New Contexts, new methods, new skills need to acquired, learnt and practiced.
A few start points with our children could be
- It’s a competitive world out there, they too are under stress to perform – there is a need to be a ‘listener’ to your child: merely being a provider won’t work anymore. Being a sounding board for them is critical. The way to enter their world is to first know their world.
- Technology is a part and parcel of our everyday life. Cell phones have become a part of the body! We carry them to the loo too. No point fighting technology, embrace it. It’s possible that we are not conversant with the functionalities – but the way forward is to learn
- Lets learn – emailing, internet, e-commerce, availability and sharing of information, facebook, sms, etc. has brought in convenience in our lives. Let’s use them – let’s leverage technology. A few area would be
- Learn emailing – the schools are moving to sending updates and homework on mails.
- E-commerce: buying and selling over the net
- Internet: knowledge is available – many times over on the net. Schooling and teaching is no longer about providing knowledge, it’s about applications and
- Reading books, magazines, dailies, weeklies etc. – keeping ourselves up-to-date brings us in touch with current world (the world of our children)
Having said that it’s critical to update ourselves, we all KNOW that, but most of us still don’t take the first step. Let’s go over a few barriers which will come up so that we can be conscious of these and we can prepare ourselves.
- ‘Learning’ is a four letter word! It reminds us of the school days – subjects, tests, exams, results..
- The thought “ab is umar mein kya seekheingey”
- There are enough issues in our life already, I don’t want to add one more.
- English!– “mere bas ka nahin hai” what will others say “I don’t even know the language”
True but remember those school days – even when learning was difficult and stressing, it was the most enjoyable time of our lives. Learning and enjoyment are two sides of the same coin. Put half an hour of ‘learning’ in your schedulers, it’s easier than it sounds. There are enough avenues available, for example..
- Internet has all the content, go to google baba and ask your questions you will get enough videos and learning material.
- Book stalls are full of self help books – they are after all not that bad.
- Ask your child to teach you! they would make great tutors and they learn while teaching you. (Secretly it keeps them away from the things you want them to be away from!!)
- Contact your child’s school, they would be keen to support you
- Ask the experts!
So let’s begin today!! Let’s walk this road of learning with our children. It’s a great path to tread and let’s partner with them!