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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Parenting .... cotton wool culture and helicopter parents

People over 40 may  appreciate this more … others too perhaps  can! .. – When we grew up -  things were not plentiful  – lesser opportunities, lesser wealth, lesser play material, lesser food items, lesser fees ……………….. lesser controls and regulations too… !! – most children of those days did not complain or were not allowed to complain – ate whatever was given, wore what was available, walked to schools, and later went in public transport ….. life was different those days – one would exclaim !!!

As it transformed, we grew up, went to college, got employed, got married, begot children ……….. and when our children (mostly one or at the most two in a family) grow -  many are worried even for simple day to day occurrences.  When the child  goes out – the present day middle class parents are worried  of sending their son/daughter alone – numerous Qs run in the mind ……. whether they would be able to go places on their own  - how will they travel, will they be able to face the outside environ, would they properly cross the road wary of the traffic, get into the right bus / train and return in time ? …… and all this happened simply earlier.

Do you pride yourself as one of those new age parents, indulgent yet strict as per the needs of the situation? Do you worry endlessly and even stays up till your kid get home………  Do you always tell your child ‘what to do and what not to’  just to 'keep them safe'? … Every parent would have their own style of parenting.  Modern Counsellor would say that the parent should respect the emotion of the children.  The modern day children are demanding and at times downright threatening. (emotional blackmailing!) Parenting (or child rearing) -  the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child is complex ~ and parent perhaps is not control of the situation. Unlike the education or training, parenting skills cannot be learnt in a classroom nor read in any standard book. One needs to constantly upgrade their skills.

There is something known as "cotton wool culture" -  of over-protecting children which now researchers say that  has contributed to a decline in freedom for them to play, heath and ability to perform of their own.   In an article in Daily Mail in Feb 14, it was stated that protective parents are stopping their children from playing sports because of fears they could be injured.  We complain that now-a-days children are not involved in outdoor sports.   One in seven parents said they would stop their child playing rugby because of the possibility of injury, as health campaigners criticised the 'cotton wool culture' and warned activity was essential to children. The survey of 2,000 parents, by Omega Pharma's Generations of Care campaign, found that a third of children spent less than five hours a week playing outside.  Competitive parents are stripping the enjoyment from school sport, a leading headteacher has claimed. He is further quoted as saying  that pushy mothers and fathers are making exhibitions of themselves and damaging children’s confidence. Parents who do not allow their children to exercise are contributing to a global decline in youngsters' cardiovascular fitness.

Another term is ‘helicopter parent’ (also cosseting parent) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead.  The metaphor appeared as early as 1969 in the bestselling book Between Parent & Teenager by Dr. Haim Ginott, which mentions a teen who complains: "Mother hovers over me like a helicopter..."

…. What sort of parent are you ? – know which standard your ward is studying … how he/she is performing … do you spend quality time with them – how much time you devote to them – do you play with them and do you get to talk to them regularly ….

Some random thoughts….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Sept. 2014.

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