My 13-year-old came back from school a little pale. The moment I saw her face I knew something was not right. After a little prodding, she told me that some boys in school had passed remarks about a girlfriend of hers. They thought these boys were friends but the nasty comments that they passed about her friend left them shocked. How could they say something like that about a friend? That’s something she just couldn’t comprehend.
I was honestly shocked to hear the things these 13-year-old boys said. We still think of them as kids and they are. Unfortunately in their minds, they feel they are teenagers and think its “cool” and “macho” to talk about a girl in derogatory terms.
As a parent of a girl and a boy , what seems to be missing here is the basic sense of kindness and respect for everyone. How a person treats a girl, be it in the house, in school or on the streets, depends on his mindset and that comes from one’s home and surroundings. The onus is on us.
I have spent many restless nights tossing and turning contemplating arguments I have had with my daughter over
- Why can’t I get a phone? I’m the only one!
- Why can’t I be on a social platform?
- Why can’t I wear a crop top? Everyone does.
How do I make her understand? It’s not that I feel clothes define her in any way and they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, the people around us aren’t as clean-minded and these things still stand out and play a big part in the way they enact things. I would not want to expose her to anything that could put her in a vulnerable situation.
A lot of us are so caught up with our own daily lives, our social lives and everything else that’s happening, that we miss out an important ingredient of parenting – sitting and spending time with our child and talking to them – again and again- about what is right and what is wrong.
We as parents have to strike a balance between being strict and open. I know personally, there are times when I’m torn between trying to be a friend to them so they confide me and being a strict parent so I don’t lose control. It’s tough and challenging.
Most kids – girls and boys have access to social media and freedom way too soon. Too much exposure too soon is the reason why things are spiralling out of control.
When parents give kids access to social media and mobile devices way before that and don’t monitor their activities then it will backfire.
And it has! In unfortunate ways that we read about every single day.
Ms Isaac – The Principal of Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai shared her thoughts about what she feels we are doing wrong
Today’s children are being over-stimulated but deprived of the fundamentals that are essential for a healthy mind
- Emotionally available parents
- Clearly defined limits
- Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
- Time for unstructured play opportunities
What Should We Do?
- Talk to your kids every single day. Teach them that basic human traits like respect and kindness are what makes a person. Not what they post on social media.
- Boys need to be taught that respecting and protecting a girl’s modesty is of utmost importance.
- Girls need to know that they don’t need to put themselves out there to impress the boys or your peers.
- Explain to your kids that hormonal changes are happening and attractions are normal. But there is a time, place and age for everything. Think before you act or say something that will offend and hurt someone.
- Teach your kids to have a strong sense of self-worth. So they understand that what you are you are and what anyone says is not going to subtract or add to it. If they understand this they won’t need to look for validation on that elsewhere and amongst their peers.
- Offer children a balanced lifestyle full of what children NEED, not just what they WANT. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your children if what they want is not what they need.
- Change your habits and theirs – Enjoy a daily family dinner without smartphones or distracting technology.
- Teach them to be responsible and independent. We will all do everything to protect our kids, but do not overprotect them. Mistakes will help them build resilience and learn to overcome life’s challenges.
- This can make a world of difference. Connect with them emotionally. Remember when they were young – hug and kiss them, read something together, relieve the day’s stress with some dancing or simply crawl into bed with them and love them.
Peer pressure is real and I have experienced this first hand with my daughter and it is super scary. The kids aren’t prepared for the real world yet and we have to do all we can to counsel them and guide them in the right direction to help them make the right decisions.
If you are a parent who has been in a similar situation then share your views with us. What do you think are the mistakes parents are making today?
We are all in the same boat and every bit of advice from an experienced mom can help make this easier.