It is Monday morning. I am at a bus stop, watching my kids, and you are listening to the voice inside a mom’s head.

Are we raising our kids in a bubble, where everything is easy and comfortable? Will they begin to take these things for granted, and start losing touch with the reality and the ‘real world’ around us? Do they understand the struggles in life?

Whenever you have serious questions such as these, the universe sends answers. Anshu Daga , the founder of Inner Startup, was also at the bus stop to drop her child off. I decided to pick her brain on this topic.

She asked the right questions. It helped me find my answers. Well, one of the ‘unfair things’ about parenting is that most answers point to ‘parenting’ itself and the environment we create for our loved ones. So the ball gets thrown back into our court. How convenient!

Back at home, I am sipping coffee. The scene has changed. However, I am still mulling over the same thing and the questions Anshu asked me. Those, in-turn, lead to even more questions in my head.

I hope I will be right in assuming that most of us grew up in an age when consumerism wasn’t what it is today. There were just two or three good chocolate brands. We adjusted our dinner time to watch our favourite program on Doordarshan with family. After the launch of DD2 or the Metro Channel, we learnt to present our arguments on why should someone at home watch his or her favourite program over others’. We had to wait for the next shopping trip to buy the dress we liked. Families spoke more and spent more time together.

Today we live in a different era. It is the age of Wi-Fi and fast food. You do not need a television to watch your favourite program anymore. You can stream it to your mobile phone or tablet. You watch your favourite serials on demand. You order your favourite item from the internet and observe the lightening speed at which it gets delivered to you. If you are hungry, you order in. Disposable income has gone up, comforts have sneaked in, and personal interaction is slowly declining. Guess who is watching all this?

Before we make an observation that children these days look for instant gratification, shouldn’t we take the responsibility of exposing them to our instant-access culture on an everyday basis?

But let us face it. The world is moving fast and we do not want to be left out. So we definitely cannot get off the bandwagon. However, here are a few things we can consciously do at home — some adjustments that probably will help our kids connect better with the reality and with life.

1. Limit screen time : I personally believe that kids need controlled exposure to smart devices rather than no screen time. Let us remember, it is up to us to decide how they use it and whether the usage is positive or negative.

2. Family dinner time : We were a family that enjoyed our dinner together, watching our favourite music show. Thanks to a good friend, today we sit at the table for dinner. Not only do we dine, but we also share stories. My son greatly looks forward to sharing his school stories most of the days. It is very important that everyone puts away all gadgets and be present at the table ‘fully’.

3. Lead by example: If you want your kids to read, you pick up the book first. You want them to eat healthy, fill your plate with leafy greens. I know, nobody warned us about this before.

4. Allow them to get bored: Today many parenting experts talk about how important it is to allow kids to choose to spend time on their own, even if it means they get bored. It gives them the chance to be creative.

5. Social causes : My friend’s daughter, Aangee, and her friend support a ‘home for strays’. To raise money, they initially sold slime. They realized there was a market, which was eager to learn how to make it. They started summer classes and raised money for the social initiative. It gives them a great sense of accomplishment and understanding of the world around them

6. Visit the native village: It is important that we take our kids to our villages to connect with nature and learn more about where they came from.

7. Encourage more free play : If you are living in a condominium, encourage kids to get down and play together. Allow them to create groups of friends and play whatever they want. It fosters independence , decision-making skills and social skills.

8. Involve them in family finances : Make them a part of your discussions. Let them understand the amount of planning and allocation of resources that go in.

First Published: Aug 13, 2018 06:50 IST

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