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Social Consequences of Today’s Parenting Practices


anthrosophy inpired parent coach

Asawari Joshi Salwan

As our children grow, we look around and observe society undergoing irreversible changes. Every time we experience something positive or negative as a community, we are bound to brood upon societal and external influences, and what we can do to ensure that our children grow into a healthy society. It is vital to remember that the society, after all, is us, a collection of people like us coming together. So if we want a healthy society for our children, the first question we need to ask ourselves is, are we ensuring a healthy growth for our child, for him to develop and take up his responsibility in building a healthy society?

A lot has been spoken about social consequences of stress, changing work environments, nuclear families and the like. Let’s now think about probable social consequences of our current parenting styles.

1)            Outsourcing early childhood

Children either go to day-care as early as six months of age or are raised by nannies at home under an elder’s supervision. So what have we done here? We have replaced the mother by many others who divide her job into mini-jobs. The day-care systems are no-doubt very professional; most day care centre heads are very caring and loving and parents are in dire need of such a support system. However if we were to keep the child at the center of it all, what is best for the child? When a child has just awakened to the sounds, smells, sights and touches of the world, he needs a nurturing and guiding light to help him understand all of it. Imagine the bombarding of images, signs, smells and unknown touches that haunt the world of the little ones. Who is best as per our natural instincts to help children? Will these finer aspects of a child’s growth ever be focused on when we decide to invite strangers into our lives to handle our children?

2)            Mother Absentia

What I am about to mention is not intended to hurt any fathers or grand-parents. Their relationship is sacrosanct when it comes to them loving their children. However, the connect that the mother naturally and biologically has with the child can be considered to be spiritual. You must have observed how the child naturally recognizes his mother, traces her through smell and follows her with his eyes. The child’s psychological need to be held by his mother is as simple as his need for food, air and poop. In absentia, no-body can replace what she can give. The child obviously copes and learns to adapt to the changes in the environment. But what are the changes that happen inside him when he has to undergo this “adaptation” routine early in their life? We will never be able to quantify it. His ability to trust might go down? And, therefore growing up into a society, where trust should be the foundation of all relationships, he might not be able to put his faith in people around him for the simplest of his needs. We can already see that happening in our lives.

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Asawari Joshi Salwan is an Anthroposophy-inspired Parent Coach. She coaches mothers of young children, helping them feel confident about themselves as parents, and strengthening their bond with one another through one-to-one sessions and group workshops. Her objective is to build a safe, healthy and nurturing community for each child. Through her writing, Asawari wants to help parents connect to their feelings so that they ask the right questions of themselves. She also blogs at http://sowthechange.com/


11 thoughts on “Social Consequences of Today’s Parenting Practices

  1. Ujwala

    Hi! While what you say about a baby’s needs is all true, what is the happy medium for mothers, who need to work outside the home, for a multitude of reasons?
    A mother who is fulfilled and happy due to her work outside the home is also important.

    Reply
    1. Asawari

      Thank You Ujwala,
      I believe one can strike a balance. A woman’s needs today are no longer taking care of her house and family. With growing un-certainities of our society, so do our insecurities. Sometimes the need to succeed and accomplish a position in the workplace is also a satisfying personal need. However you will also agree, that over-doing anything will cause a dis-balance in our life. A child recognizes the connect with the mother very early on and does not understand strange touches, smells and sights (even though they are very friendly). If we were to look at the baby as Project Baby, what aspects of the project would you delegate and what you would keep to yourself? Motherhood can be a very satisfying experience even for working women! The idea is to always remain connected to self and not let societal pressures drive the most important of our decisions in life.

      Reply
  2. Manjiri Joshi Mohanty

    Well said Asawari… In todays fast crazy cranky busy work loaded parent world … Children in a household are no longer the centre. in the race to win.. he is either seeing one parent or may b none!!…. External support systems are taken for granted and many times internal too… Its nice to see your clarity of thought in a society bombarded with so many changes that one often find oneself thinking .. Where do I begin??

    Reply
    1. Asawari

      Thank you Manjiri,
      The desire to want to make a change says, we reflect. We feel the need to make a change. It could also mean we need balance in our life. Motherhood is not all about quitting everything you do for your child. No longer. It is about growth, you along with your child. Doesn’t matter how old your child is. Where to begin is a tricky question, because I Believe, the answers are almost always within ourselves. The problem identification though, is the first step.

      Reply
  3. Aubree

    No one will deny that mothers are important. However, I disagree with the focus of this article being not to let strangers take care of our kids. Research studies have indeed gone longitudinal in looking into what, if any, effects are present in children who live in a home where both parents, particularly the mother, are working. Those studies have not demonstrated any negative effects from having working parents/mothers. The key to any healthy, positive environment is positive engagement from the caregiver, whether that be the mother, father, nanny or childcare provider. What has been shown to do damage is lack of social support/financial resources, too much tv time, lack of conversation in any environment, neglect, physical/emotional punishment and shaming of the parent/child. When focus goes to the mom (or other parent/caregiver), it is better approached as “being a mom is hard work, you’re doing a good job, how can I support you?” vs “is working outside the home really the best thing for your child?” 100% of the time the latter question brings up shame, either internal or external. Internal shame because they made a decision (or had no choice in the matter) to either stay home or work and are now having someone else call that into question, or external in that they’ll shame someone else who’s choice is opposite theirs. I was a single, working mom for 3 years while I got my MA in Early Childhood Education (an am still a working mom) and I know from personal experience, as well as from the many parents’ experiences that I’ve worked with on home visiting over the years, that shame is never a good thing and there is a lot of it around working. Adapting to changes early in life (and throughout life in general) has been studied, it’s resilience. Being in the care of a daycare provider at 6 weeks of age doesn’t weaken the mother-child bond.

    Reply
    1. Asawari

      Thank you Aubree,

      Your experiences as a mother and an educator are profound. I cannot even begin to imagine what it takes to be a single mother. The inner strength required to build a growth system for your child when you have to do it all by yourself is daunting.
      There are various kinds of studies done by many credible institutions in the field of early education. I agree that raising the child with the help of day-care systems does not weaken the mother-child bond. That was also not the intention of my thought. But, and you have to try and imagine what I am trying to say here – the societal changes in a developing country. The workplace in India, does not allow any work man/woman to contribute anything lesser than 18 hours. Especially the higher you rise, the worse it gets. That is my premise of thought. Where the mother is there with the child, but is not there. Secondly the way this country has seen growth, day care systems have cropped up everywhere. Did you know we have no system and processes for registering nannies and day-care service providers? Anybody with a home can start a day care. Under such circumstances more than 90% of the day-cares do not have caring people. The maids, and I say maids, because they are not trained nannies, who manage children are under-age, uneducated and are not offered any opportunity to understand what it is to manage a 6 mo child! That is the reality of our daycare systems. Home support has a similar problem. The nannies we have to hire are unhygenic, and the sector that manages domestic help is so dis-organized that working mothers today have to pay more than their monthly salaries to those providers as “commission”. And even after all that, we cannot trust them. In such a scenario, can we even think about how caring this help feels or how engaged they are with the child? The mothers here are constantly worried in their work spaces about how the child will be at home.
      In the Indian context, the society is under-going a drastic change. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, the society and its support system have not stepped up to do justice to working women. I would be lying if I would say – I know what it is to be a single mother or to have to work because I need to. But the fact of our society is, our children are not in safe hands – emotionally. They are growing up with a whole lot of insecurities inside them and this eventually will have consequences some where.
      I decided to speak last about shame. Please believe me when I say, we do not mean to shame anyone, working or no internally or externally. I simply feel day in and day out the need to look myself in the mirror and ask, am I doing enough? Can I do more for my child? This need to ask does not come out of feeing inadequacy. But to grow, to improve as a parent. Every thought will have a negative connotation. But to look at it when your receive it as a different perspective is true growth.

      And I heartily thank you for expressing yourself candidly. I now definitely want to meet more single working mom’s to know their perspective and understand them better!

      Reply
  4. Mike Smith

    Your article is excellent! I am a volunteer fatherhood advocate, encouraging men to be more involved in their children’s lives.

    I see that you place fathers as maybe a close second in importance to mothers. I’m not here to argue that, just to mention that the statistics of children’s failures in life skills (mentally, socially, etc.) when fathers are absent, is astounding. Do you know anyone who blogs about fatherhood, as a professional, like you do for motherhood?

    I do blog and write about fatherhood, but I am just a retired military man who had a bad father and tried to be a good father (a layman).

    Thank you for your article!!

    Reply
    1. Asawari

      Thank you Mike,

      I genuinely appreciate that you are a fatherhood advocate. In our society, we think “parenting” comes naturally. Infact the father figure is the most taken for granted.

      I do not place fathers second to mothers. One fine aspect is that nature did. BUT the reason I have not spoken about fathers above is because the relationship of the fathers with their children over the years has not changed in the Indian society. Fathers of my grand-fathers generation would also indulge in sports, activities and such and so do today’s. Hence I do not honestly think that they are in any more absentia today than my father or earlier. I do follow a few fathers on twitter who are extremely active and engaged fathers. @Nickking @ideas4dads @MrBookieBoo @ADadCalledSpen

      Keep up your advocacy for fatherhood, I am sure you reach out to many good men!

      Reply

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