The recent drunk driving accidents by teenagers in Gurgaon and Mumbai have again thrown the spotlight on teenage parenting and the changing lifestyle of teenagers in urban India. Never less than forthright when offering an opinion, Renuka Choudhury, the Congress Union Minister, was absolutely spot on in demanding that parents assume greater responsibility if their underage children ( who obviously don’t have a license ) take the family car for a spin.
Though one may not agree with her that only the father should lose his driving license, the issue at hand is not of patriarchal control of the ‘family car’, but the joint responsibility of parents in keeping adolescents under control. And that goes for the all round activity and development of the child.
Driving and drinking are serious issues for parents in a new urban India where adolescents deal with a lot of new age pressures and problems than faced by their parents during their time. Therefore this requires proper attention to the child’s activity and growth. I refuse to believe that parents’ affection for their kids have been compromised in this age where all are involved in a rat race to horde wealth. It is in the display of this love that things have changed.
As parents grow busy and time becomes ‘money’, parents try to assuage this lack of time given to their child by a shower of material gifts like cars, branded clothes and accessories. And as children grow up in such an environment, they naturally tend towards becoming the wild and wicked. Peer pressure, popular demands and trends and a culture of blatant exhibitionism become catalysts in the child’s growth and development. Thus, fast cars, branded possessions, smoking, drinking and even substance abuse become an adolescent’s companion grappling with a superficial and materialistic culture and intense competition.
Even though the feisty minister was way off target when contending that cell phones did not enhance the security of a child, the importance of cellular mobile phones in the present era of instant communication cannot be ignored. Parents have failed to address the importance of the item to their children and thus its various uses are lost in the barrage of abuses adolescents do with their cell phones. Parents unquestioningly give their child expensive cell phones and cater to their never ending demands for a better one, which in the hands of teenagers become a mere article of superiority and a naked display of economic and thus social status.
In analysing this phenomenon, I have only taken a particular section of the society, as this is the segment that has regularly displayed the downside of a post LPG (Liberalization Privatization Globalization) India. It is among the urban upper middle class and higher sections that reports of growing cases of substance abuse and abortion among teenagers come. Under such a scenario, one is challenged to retrospect on where today’s parents have gone wrong. One of the answers lies in the time that parents give to their wards. It is imperative that parents spend adequate time with their child(ren). Servants/ companions or costly gifts can never compensate for a parent and as such social, ethical and moral values, utterly necessary for a child’s overall growth and development is never inculcated and encouraged. It is time that parents realise the hazards of materialistic oriented growth of a child and revert to the time tested basics of proper parenting. Otherwise time may just run out on a generation of ‘McDonalds- Motorola- Mercedes’ kids.
[Image Source: http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007/07_03/childrenREX280707_468x315.jpg]