Being a parent is a life-changing experience. National Parent’s Day (July 25) celebrates parents’ essential contribution to their children's lives. Presently, millennial parenting is in focus. Since technology and competition contribute to this new-age parenting style, the parents need assistance in dealing with issues .
The term millennial parenting is more valid these days due to circumstances beyond one’s control. The definition, therefore, needs clarification.
Dr Chandni Tugnait, MD (A.M) psychotherapist, life alchemist, coach and healer, and founder and director, Gateway of Healing, says millennial parenting style is more progressive and organised. “In most cases, both parents are working; however, they spend more time with their children as opposed to older generations. They are less authoritarian and more inclined towards positive parenting,” says Dr Tugnait.
She has noticed another feature – parents value specialisation over life skills. “The kids are being pushed by their parents to be experts from a very early age. The technological exposure and massive competition leave little room for free play,” she says.
“A healthy balance is needed to ensure that the social skills, behaviour and emotional well-being are not adversely affected. Some issues faced by these children are anxiety, fears, ego-tussles, low or inflated self-worth, stress and sleep disorders,” says Dr Tugnait.
Finance plays a vital role in this parenting style. Dr Vani Kulhalli, consultant psychiatrist, adolescent and child care, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, says that being a sandwich generation, millennials find parenting to be stressful at times as they are constantly trying to fulfil the expectations of their children and parents.
“Majority are financially settled when they decide to raise children. Thus, they tend to offer material gifts, freedom and space to their children. Millennials are raised mostly in nuclear families without the emotional support of extended family.”
Balancing old and new methods
Educational institutes have an in-depth knowledge of the parenting styles that keep changing with each generation.
Anamika Dasgupta, director, The Wonder School, Pune, feels that a millennial parent's context should be looked into. “Be it socially, lifestyles and concepts and of course technologically, the heavy concoction of change has led to a lot of confusion and millennial parents are bearing the brunt of it. In this context, the 'millennial parenting style' is still evolving and is trying to balance old ways and a new approach,” says Dasgupta.
A parent’s point of view can give an insight into what it means to be a millennial parent.
For Pune-based Padma Rateshwar, being a millennial parent to seven-year-old Siddharth is an experience. “With both of us working, it does get cumbersome to balance work and home. The guilt of not giving enough attention to your child always leads to a state of penance.”
She rues that gadgets keep the child away from making new friends and playing outside. “The pandemic has triggered virtual schooling that adds more time to gadgets. It is overwhelming to ensure that he completes all his assignments on time, eats nutritious food and learns something new while balancing studies and home.”
Just listen and understand
In this age of digital upbringing, a correct guidance makes a difference. Dr Kulhalli believes that millennial parents need to be kind to themselves. “They should prioritise the expectations of their children and parents realistically and maintain an honest flow of communication to avoid misunderstandings. They should seek suggestions from friends and family members for a holistic perspective. While offering freedom and space to their children, millennials should also teach them about respecting authority and personal responsibilities.”
Millennial parents also have to deal with generation gap, despite being a member of the same era as their kids. Dasgupta mentions, “Parents have to do just one thing – know their children very well. It entails understanding the following: What motivates and de-motivates your child? What is your child learning? What manipulation tactics does my child use? After gaining unbiased facts, they must ‘formulate and implement interventions with our children.”
Millennial parents must understand that they are dealing with kids already under pressure that's way different from their times. Dr Tugnait is clear that millennial parents should distinguish between positive parenting and fear-based parenting. “Avoid making things very easy for the kids and let them earn their rewards. Learn to say 'no' to your children.”
She tells millennial parents to allow children to make mistakes, to fail and to learn. “Give them room to grow and progress. Walk the talk – children observe and mimic parents.”
For Padma, millennial parents are more confident of the roles they play. “They develop a stronger bond with their children. Parents can encourage their children’s passion, celebrate their achievements, introduce gadget-free days and family time, educate them about culture, tradition and values and importantly, teach them to be kind and empathetic.”
Not everything from the older generation should be overlooked. Dr Tugnait offers an old parenting tip – have one meal together. “Not only is this a stress-buster, but it also provides a space for connection, listening, sharing, learning and integrating things at a deeper level. It helps build self-esteem and raise kids with values, love, gratitude and compassion.”
The adage ‘old is gold’ can be the practical base for the millennial parenting rule book. One of these rules is having a support system in place, says Dr Kulhalli.
“Older generations believed in the proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Millennials should create a network of friends and family members to build an emotional and psychological safety net around their children. The child learns the intricacies of communication, emotional bonding, perspectives and responsibilities of a relationship,” she adds.
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