The rules of parenting have seen a definitive change due to the pandemic and its aftermath
Dr. (Mrs.) Amita Chauhan
Chairperson, Amity Group of Schools
Children are the most affected by any calamity, be it man-made or natural and it is always their inner strength that is put to test. History has proven, however, that children overcome every hardship with resilience and determination. I feel this is because children are like a clean slate; they forgive easily, forge lasting bonds, and hold no regrets. Indeed, our children are our most precious legacy. They signify the inherent hope in life which shines brighter with love and care. The way we protect this light defines the path on which the world will walk tomorrow.
The biggest struggle for parents during this time, I believe, has been achieving a balance between work-from-home and their children’s changing needs. Getting children adjusted to a string of online classes, while managing household chores simultaneously has been an uphill task. I am told many young kids showed signs of anxiety because they could not go out and play. Parents, however, adapted to the new normal much faster, responded to these signs in time and became far more involved with their children’s daily activities. Many of them discovered the kind of learners their kids were and responded accordingly rather than forcing their own ideas upon them, like earlier. I have also been told that when they saw teachers take online classes deftly and without any complaints, they were overwhelmed with gratitude, a sentiment that they were then able to pass on to their kids as well.
Parents have shared with me, with great satisfaction, how they innovated and replaced outdoor activities with indigenous indoor games, family workouts and karaoke sessions to keep their children occupied. Trying out recipes together, in fact, has been another discovery for parents and children alike. Parents focused their attention on re-introducing their children to the nutritive value of home-cooked food, and the joy of seeing their young ones share chores, like laying the table and doing the dishes, became the source of a new-found bond between them.
Interestingly, this time also saw gender-based roles being completely overturned, with the man sharing equal responsibility in domestic chores. Children experienced first-hand what it meant to be equals, and they also developed greater respect for those who are caregivers and home-makers. I feel this change was a much-needed reform, even though this may still not be the reality in all homes. I do hope, though, that more families understand the importance of rising above traditional stereotypes so that we raise kids who live and strive for equality, not just at home but in the world.
After all, kids did emerge as “superheroes’ to several parents around the world. As clouds of hopelessness enveloped the world and countless families lost their loved ones, children came forward with all sorts of ideas to support their parents, both physically and emotionally. From leading from the front by forming self-help groups on social media that could assist in healthcare to patiently being their parents’ friends during times of grief, children have truly shown how they can flow with time like a peaceful river.
In fact, I have letters from truly overwhelmed parents who share that their kids helped them in keeping their businesses running through social media. When everything went online, several parents had to resort to taking their children’s help in understanding and using technology for their work. Many parents discovered that their children could find innovative and creative solutions using technology, something they could have never imagined themselves. This also showed them the patient and caring side of their children. New-age parenting has indeed become one of give and take.
However, the biggest challenge during the pandemic has been for parents who lost their jobs and livelihoods, especially those from the lesser privileged strata of society. Even though it sometimes became a struggle to make ends meet, these parents continued to give priority to their kids’education. I am told that some resorted to sharing a smartphone between families and, in some neighborhoods, laptops were being rented out so that online learning could go on uninterrupted. Can anything else exhibit the strength of a parent-child bond?
I hope that these positive changes within families – where everyone rises above-defined gender roles and respects each other, where learning is holistic and two-way, where education is a priority – will continue to thrive and become a permanent feature of our society, with or without the pandemic!
No wonder then, it is the parent- child relationship that was most challenged and has still emerged the most victorious during the Coronavirus pandemic. For most of this period, parents have been locked inside their homes with their children for hours together. Parents have shared with me how this proximity allowed them to discover a new skill and talent in their kids, or how they re-bonded with their young ones.