Now, tell me when was the last time you spent quality time with your kids like narrating a bedtime story or going for a morning walk? When was the last time you took your kids to some museum or an educational tour instead of a mall on a weekend? Have you ever made concern to meet your child’s friends with whom they are spending the maximum time on Facebook chat room or let’s put it this way, do you really know with whom your child is friends on Facebook?
I remember in my childhood in 80s and 90s, we used to eagerly wait in the evening to rush to the playground and after playing for almost two hours, we used to return home so tired that we were able to see our favourite program on Doordarshan barely and go to sleep by 9pm. I still wonder how fast these smartphones and play stations replaced our playgrounds. Isn’t it sad that today a little kid knows how to operate a smartphone but do not know the basic childhood games we used to play like kho kho or hopscotch (we called it stapu) and for sure, if just like me, you too are not born in this millennium, then hundred percent you must have played traditional Indian games like Pakdam Pakdai, Poshampa Bhai Poshampa, Vish-Amrit, Aankh Micholi or Lagori (seven stones). Even in the hot summers, when we were not allowed to go out in the afternoon, we kept ourselves busy with indoor games like ludo, snake and ladder or carom.
Today I wonder how the parents, who used to run to the playground after school in their childhood, prefer their children to sit in front of the television with hand in a bowl of potato chips and other junk food. Evenings are for tuitions and rest of the time kids are busy with Whatsapp, Facebook and Ask.fm. With easy accessibility of everything and virtually all the demands met by parents, some kids are not only becoming more demanding but not ready to accept any defeat or failure, they want to be cool and numero uno in everything they do. More likes on the picture on facebook make them to feel cool. This behaviour is also making them more aggressive. Parents prefer to surrender themselves to their kids’ demands as they have the guilt of not giving a quality time to them.
Let’s try to follow some simple steps to have ‘Achche din’ at home. First let’s make some home rules, like no phone period, can we have at least four hours in the evening without mobile phones and entire family having dinner together on dining table without watching television and using mobile phones. Bed time storytelling to little kids or spend some quality time with your grown-up children to see if they have any feelings of loneliness, isolation, or poor self-esteem or depression. Let’s take kids to Natural history museum or Craft museum this weekend, and do you really know that we have more than 22 museums in Delhi? Remember nobody or nothing can replace a parent’s love and care so even if your children are not happy with your concern showing attitude, do not give up, as it is you who understands them. At least a parent should sometimes keep a check on their activities and friends. Your friendly but balanced attitude towards your children will make them comfortable to share their feelings with you. It is very difficult initially as awareness of the gadgets, craze to be available on social networking sites and the tendency to make them a status symbol is the main cause of distractions in kids but at least even if we could spare some time for them, can be of some help. Also sometimes keeping a vigil on them and occasional counselling is not going to make you an outdated parent.
We still have a few weeks of this summer vacation left, let’s have a new beginning and strong bonding among family.
(Rahul Verma is founder of Uday Foundation, a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to children, health and human rights.)