There is no doubt that we parents are deeply invested (arguably, over-invested!) in our children. The quality and extent of this investment is a constant subject for debate and introspection among parents across the world. In a changing India, where economic liberalization has meant new experiences in technology, lifestyles, aspirations and opportunities for a burgeoning middle class, parents are facing new challenges.
Right from the outset of our parenting journey, Indian parents grapple with a clash of tradition and modernity. We ask basic questions about child bearing and rearing- nappies or diapers, when do we potty train, alopathy or home remedies…you get the picture. As our children grow, we struggle to keep the balance between using parental authority and encouraging independent thought. We feel frustrated when the methods our parents used with us fail to engage our children. We worry about safety, education quality and how to nurture talent and inculcate good behaviour even as we watch over ourselves closely, judging our parenting in terms of successes and failures of our children. All of this comes to a head when our children are ready for higher education. Career choices often become bitter battles between parents and children, or utterly confusing experiences for children who try to reconcile their own ideas with parental aspiration. Worse still, with limited tools to understand what they really want, children rely largely on peer pressure and current trends for higher education choices.
As a parent of two children, a 13-year old boy and a 9-year old girl, my parenting worries aren’t anything to write home about at this time. I’m happy observing their activities and listening to their narrations of what they experience in school or among friends. Sometimes, as they flit from one set of obsessions to another, I worry about consistency. I wonder about whether what they spend their time doing is determined by what they like or what they can easily access. At other times, I am concerned that I cannot keep abreast of their lives. Not because I want to control them, but because knowing more about what interests them could perhaps offer clues about how to intervene during difficult times, say when there is a temper tantrum, or when a child is anxious about exams or battling peer pressure.
I should have known that today’s data-rich, tech-savvy world would have a solution for my problems. In my case, the solution was closer to home than expected. When my dear friend Rachna came up with the idea of an app that would map children’s interest by asking them how they felt about the activities in their regular routines, I was truly excited by the possibilities! As her idea shaped up and PiNWi was born, I decided to come on board as a mom investor in addition to my involvement in terms of ideas and feedback. With each step PiNWi took forward , my excitement about the possibilities has grown. In our home we are slowly discovering how, with the mere engagement of a few minutes each day, technology can be leveraged to help us understand our children better (and perhaps shape their choices as well).
We will see where this journey takes us, but it does occur to me that while we find strategic and innovative ways to do nearly everything in our lives (at work, while we socialize, and certainly in how we entertain ourselves), in parenting we stick to the age-old formulae. Why is that so? When our entire world is being shaken and stirred with the onset of ‘disruptive’ influences, why not try something new on the parenting journey as well? I’ll keep you posted on how it goes for us…