This summer I had two moments that, for me, summed up the entire landscape that my kids were growing up in. Allow me to tell you about both.
The first was when my iPhone 6 lit up with a FaceTime call. I didn't recognise the number, so I didn't pick up. I then got a text from my 5-year-old son's best friend asking him to answer the phone. So when he called again, I picked up. My son's friend was calling from his hotel room in Tokyo, where he and his family were on summer vacation. He was calling to show his latest acquisitions. The two five-year-olds spent the next hour chatting about summer holidays and their plans -- completely comfortable doing so with their mom's phones.
The second, was when my yet-to-start-talking-coherently, babbling 18-month-old toddler was shopping with us at the grocery store. At the juice aisle, he stopped toddling, pulled his hand away from my grasp and started pointing excitedly to something on the shelf. "Foooti, Fooooti Fijjj!" he screamed in a high pitched baby voice. It took me a full five minutes to realise that this boy was pointing to Frooti Fizz, and asking me to buy it because he had been watching Alia Bhatt selling it on television the whole summer and was now quite familiar with it. How is that for brand recall?
Giving Them Too Much Because They Know Too Much
For any parent raising their kids today, neither one of these incidents will be anything but ordinary, but that's because we are used to our kids making demands that we never even thought possible when we were kids. Every summer the kids discuss the beaches of Bali, the fantasy lands of Disney, the football stadia of Italy and even the churros of Spain! They want that top Miley Cyrus wore and they know enough to scour through Zara and ASOS. Have you noticed how seemingly inane things suddenly become must-have trends? Fidget spinners, Bey blades, Hatchimals...the list (and the price) keeps increasing. What apps to download and who has the latest (and cutest!) top are topics discussed in the annals of school or in the backseat of the school bus. Kids today, are exposed to way too much, know so much more than we do and parents are officially having a hard time paying the price to keep up.
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An article I read recently sums it up neatly. You can't but agree with the author of this article, that appeared in Scroll.in and Quartz when she says, "Now, children have begun to represent the family not just in name but also in the purchasing power they represent."'
"Now, children have begun to represent the family not just in name but also in the purchasing power they represent."'
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It is not uncommon for a family with two kids to have two tablets - one for each child, so there is no fighting. I would think my parents would solve this issue simply by laying down the law that each of us could use it for an hour in the day or on alternate days. Sounds simple right?
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The N Word
Actually, why blame the kids? Yes, they are asking for things but it doesn't mean the parents need to give it to them. Why can't parents just say NO? As a millennial parent, let me be honest, the N word doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as it did for my parents or my parent's parents. We face a whole lotta guilt when it comes to using that word. It could be our way of compensating for coming home way after our child goes to bed, or it could be to make up for the fact that all of our child's friends went on a foreign vacation and we didn't go, or maybe we just want our child to fit in with their friends in the fancy school we have chosen for them. As parents, we suffer from FOMO and we definitely don't want our kids to suffer too. We worry ourselves sick over the fact that our kids will not fit in with their peers and that we know, and have read, will have long-lasting implications on their psyche. So that's why we don't mind standing in queues for hours and spending about Rs 20,000 on a ticket!
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Whatever be the reason, we are partly to blame for our kid's rampant consumerism and emotional economic decisions. So while we are busy trying to raise children who are global citizens maybe, just maybe we need to take a step back and see what kind of parents we ourselves are turning into.
Image source: goodhousekeeping.com