When I look back at my childhood and of those around me, I see an entire generation of parents who have given up everything for the sake of their kids. Though parenting in every age and time has its challenges accrued to the ecosystem, I feel that the generation of our parents i.e. the 90s, comprised of a large section of middle-class families where fathers were the prime earners and mothers the homemakers. This is the generation of parents who lost themselves to a constant call of responsibility and their aspirations for their kids to be able to fly high with sky as the limit. Below I iterate how the challenges faced by parents were many with little help on how to deal with them –
The Technological Revolution
In addition to being friends, emotional anchors, and vigilant parents the couple had to deal with the rapidly changing times in terms of technology and culture. The 90s saw radical technological changes that impacted our lifestyles forever. Every parent had to constantly up skill themselves so that they could keep pace with their fast growing and fast learning kids. Remember the pocket video games, TV consoles and then the personal computers that our parents learned to enjoy more than us, but were constantly worried about our addiction to them. In the process they themselves got addicted to a lot of vices is a different story altogether (I can still visualize my mom sitting on the computer table and playing PACMAN with my Dad eagerly waiting for her to be eaten up).
Advent of Cable TV
With the introduction of cable TV, there came a flood of entertainment programs available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Before Cable TV came, it was 9-11 am on Sundays that was considered appropriate for kids to watch (there was Chandrakanta, Jungle Book, Tailspin and one program that had puppets in green and purple). Only summer vacations had an increased TV time with afternoons dedicated to ‘Chutti Chutti’ . Later, with the advent of daily soaps culture, fathers took pleasure in watching television once back home from work, but the mothers had to live up to the challenge of monitoring what the kids watched on television for the most part of the day. I remember the bizarre look when my mom caught me watching TARA and SHANTI. Despite the daily soaps alluring the women with broadcasts all day long, most mothers refrained from watching television themselves even if they had time in hand, only in order to set an appropriate example for their kids.
The Economic Liberation
The 90s was the time when the economy was opening up. There suddenly was this surge of hope and excitement of many and well-paying jobs in the manufacturing and information technology industries. The 90s was the time when every middle-class parent dreamed of their child becoming an engineer, working in the US and fulfill their otherwise impossible dream of having a ‘FOREIGN’ link. This was also the time for encouraging career prospects in unconventional professions related to the entertainment industry and fields related to art and literature. So many parents spent sleepless nights so that they could wake their child up and she could spend an extra hour studying. When the time came, these parents went out of their way so that their children could garner required guidance and knowledge to pursue their larger than life dreams.
The Financial Stress
As has been the case for eons of years, 90s parents also skewed the home budgets in favor of their kids. They always worried about whether their child could have that latest trending outfit, or that new gadget that the neighbor’s son owns, or that latest reference guide for mathematics to help her better her score in exams. With the commercialization of economy came a flood of options for everything in the market, which had a huge impact on the household budget.
The Cultural Revolution
Though an open culture always existed in pockets in the society, yet the 90s saw a huge shift in how the inter-mingling of girls and boys became much more acceptable and prevalent. Our parents grew up in times when schools were either Boys’ or Girls’. The advent and rise of co-educational schools gave many parents sleepless nights. Added to that was the telecommunication revolution that our country saw in the mid-nineties. That was the time we were growing up to be teenagers and with telephones at disposal within the homes parents had a tough time monitoring who their kid was interacting with. Though that wasn’t an iota of the tough task we as parents face today with easy access to internet and mobile phones, yet for them, it was a mountain of uncalled for trouble.
Every generation of parents talks about how changing times made parenting difficult. Yet I often feel that the 90s parents had the hardest of time bringing up their kids. What are your memories of how your parents’ life was made difficult due to the prevalent times?
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