Widening Gap Between Parents and their Children


A century or two ago, most of the children in the world would work with their parents in farms and help them in daily home and work related activities. They would learn the skills of their parents, start their own families when they would grow up and pass those skills to their kids.

About 2 decades ago, most of the children in the world spent their time at school and finishing school related work. The rest of the time of the day, the kids would usually spend their time with their parents at either dinner tables, or with the neighbors (if the society was so interactive).

Today, all this has changed. Changed probably for good. Kids have transitioned from playing the role of helpers to being students with independent thought and choice. However, now we are in the phase of transition, where presently parents are having real hard time giving their attention and company to their kids. This is not the case only in the United States or the West, but this problem can equally be found in the East, especially in the urban areas. Many kids have both working parents, they spend their infancy/ toddler age in the Day Care/ Child Care, instead of in the arms of one of the Parents or Grand parents (traditional nannies). The problem doesn’t end here, because this issue has become old. Many parents have gotten used to this way of life because they simply cannot meet their ends meet with only one person working.

The problem that I am noticing is the TV screens in the Cars, and kids with the latest hand-held consoles in the Malls and the grocery stores .

Recently, I went to a local grocery store, and as I was shopping I was astonished to look at a kid playing with his hand-held console, while his parents were doing the grocery. I stood there remembering that just more than a decade ago, my father would take me to the grocery shopping and there was no way I could have done anything else besides tagging along with him, while he would show me which Apple was a good one and what kind of Bananas should we pick. Occasionally, I would give him my best apple and would rejoice (inside) had my selection was up to his standards.  He would show me the way to differentiate a good Papaya fruit (by smelling) and I recalled that when we would leave the Taila (a wooden cart with products), he would tell me in the car the wrong weights the seller had. He would remind me of the red cloth when a seller would use it cover his Taila from sunlight, which would change the color of the fruits and vegetables, thus basically “fool” the foolish customers.

All this was necessary for a kid of around 10 years of age. I remember my parents doing the same thing with my brothers and sisters, when ever we would go out for shopping for anything- big or small. I would get embarrassed, when my mother would try to negotiate the price with the seller by starting her price offer with flat 50% less from the Seller’s :)  [some of you can relate to it!]

It was important because not only Parents would bring a sense of responsibility to the kid but it would also bring them in contact with their parents. Today all this is losing. While parents and their children are busy most of the time of the day, when they go out for what ever purpose, either kids have a controller with them or they are watching their favourite cartoon/ movie/ show in the built-in mini tv in the car.

Dr Kylie Hesketh from Deakin University has been running a trial program in Melbourne (Australia) with 550 first-time parents. While talking about the reducing the consumption of traditional TV and eating, she said:

“We strongly encourage people to turn the television off when they’re having a meal as being a really nice family time when it can be an opportunity to talk about what families did during the day.” Adelaidenow

Dr Kylie said this about the traditional role of TV in the house, what about the Parents cruising with their kids? Although her research is not about that, but I think it is equally applicable to the scenario of the family gathering in a car. TV should be turned off, parents and kids should be using that time having a family talk or discussion.

Prior studies have estimated that preschool-age children watch one to three hours of television a day. But those relied on reports from parents about children’s habits at home and did not count the time they spent in front of the television during day care, underestimating the total TV time by up to 100 percent, researchers said.

“I hope that this is a wake-up call,” said Dimitri Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, the study’s lead author. Washington Post

With this much exposure to TV at home and day cares; the mini TVs in the Vans and Cars is very counter productive. Parents should use any time of the day to communicate with their kids rather than leaving them to their hand-held consoles or new forms of TVs.

After noticing around the way the new generation is growing up, I thank my parents for being there and making me go out in this boring shopping centers and grocery stores/Tailas. I thank them for teaching me little things that now I see that it was important. I also thank Allah Subhanawatallah (glorious and exalted is He), for sending me to such parents.

3 Comments

Filed under America, Pakistan, Umer Sultan

3 responses to “Widening Gap Between Parents and their Children

  1. Moe

    Umer, another change is the impact of smaller families. Here in the US, many 30-somethings have only one child and they focus ALL their attention on and constantly fuss over the one child – who may grow up to believe he/she is the center of the universe. We shall see . . .

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