Times may have changed but not for today’s parents whose collective frustration spills out in the open when it comes to discussing their offspring. Unceremonious adages like ‘highly irresponsible’, ‘grossly careless’, ‘poorly empathetic’ and ‘increasingly narcissistic’ are pressed into service to reflect their unending ire.Age has forced me to switch sides now, but it wasn’t too long when I was one among many of my generation who had braved parental verbal tirade. My mother would often compare me with my father for being ‘half as diligent in discharging my duties towards the household’. Like all parents, she was repetitive enough to trigger my immune response.
Neither was the problem diagnosed then nor is it being analysed now. Across the world, I have learnt, a generation is growing up expecting more from their parents. A narcissistic generation afflicted by the ‘selfie epidemic’ is growing in numbers. Need it be said that the otherness of others has become mostly irrelevant to this generation.
If you ask me, we are the problem we are trying to solve. Haven’t many of us been hollering our children not to forget things they must carry before leaving home? Aren’t most of us doing the household work ourselves because getting kids to do the same will suck more energy out of us? If that be so, then blame it on our style of parenting.
We have allowed children’s sense of entitlement to be inflated alongside decline in their responsibilities towards the household. Gone are the days when children were perceived as a generation which was raised to gain practical tips for survival from their parents, and to lend supportive financial hand for the household to thrive.
In present times we want our child to be child – to play, to laugh, to have fun, and to enjoy the carefree state for as long as s/he can. Perceived as an emotional asset whose primary purpose is being loved, most parents today want their kids to spend time on things that can bring them success. Rarely it is realized that the pursuit of success comes at a price.
It is our attitude plus the change in living conditions that has prompted children to be what they are today. Why should children spend hours doing chores when the technology – mixers, microwave ovens, washing machines, handsets – has improved living conditions in favor of individual emancipation around the house? You do yours and mine too, they seem to be saying as technology has eased the task of doing work!
I would be surprised if there are parents not wanting their children to be tech savvy, and not ape modernity to stay in the race for endless material acquisitions. Comes packaged with it are the terms and conditions that discourage children to do household chores. Knowing it well, as many as 30% of American parents no longer ask their children to do household chores.
So much for our side of the story. Have you ever tried asking the young generation about their side of the story? I have heard many say that they were labelled ‘little emperors’ and ‘little princesses’ on their birthdays by their parents. And they are behaving like what they were labelled as. Where do you see emperors and princesses do household chores, they ask!!
(Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma is Director, Ecological Foundation, New Delhi, India)