Women are in a better place to decide what they want to do
I think nowadays it is a personal choice. Women are more independent, career-oriented, focussed and know what they want and how they want to progress in life. So, I’m sure the awareness is a lot more than it was earlier. They are also exposed to a lot more globally and have a mind of their own. They don’t really come under social pressure to start a family. Earlier women had to take care of the household and were oriented by their parents accordingly — by the age of 20 you should get married, by 23 have a child. That is your life set out for you.
Today, the financial independence women have because of the fact that they are working is also playing an important role. That, along with the psychological feedom allows them to make their own decisions.
The reason for disconnected parenting could be the fact that women are pre-occupied — they have so many things on their minds. However, upbringing isn’t just the mother’s responsibiilty. Also, every child is different. So, if you see a child throwing a tantrum at a mall, you cannot judge that their parents aren’t connected. It might just be that the child has issues or is different. Also, with nuclear families, parents have no choice but to take children along with them for every trip. When you had extended families, you had the liberty to leave your child in the best care if you did go out to shop. Now, the fact that the children might want to do something else and are being dragged along to the restaurant or to the mall does give them reasons to be cranky.
From Ms Deepali Tulpule
HR Director and mother of two living in Dubai
Distractions play the biggest role in disconnected parenting
There are both sides of this coin, to be honest. Some women take it as a social responsibility but others do take it as a personal responsibility. Right from the time they conceive they have a very strong bonding with the child and it becomes an attachment factor. That is common, according to psychological theories, for any relationship, not just for mother and child.
Disconnected parenting, however, could be due to various distractions that we can see in our lives today. For example, at a mall the parent might be too busy with all the things they need to get done to pay attention to their child. Secondly, social media and the exponential increase of gadgets has become a major distraction. Also, som parents are simply unable to deal with tantrums. If they are in a public place and not able to deal with their child’s tantrums they would rather just leave the place or do what the child is asking them to do because they are worried about how it looks to other people. Or they, too, might be anxious.
One important reason behind disconnected parenting might be a role reversal or role transition that a person goes through when they become a parent. They might be very active and career-oriented but once they have a child, they are not prepared and don’t spend enough time to dive into the role completely. Adjustment is probably one of the biggest challenges in such siuations.
From Dr Shankar Srinivas
Consultant psychiatrist living in Dubai
No one truly understands the attached responsibility
Parenting in most cases is a natural progression to marriage, but in nearly all cases no one truly understands the attached responsibility. There has been a slight shift nowadays, where women enjoy thriving careers take their own time in deciding when they want to become a mother, but those cases are quite few and far between. Usually, it is a natural progression.
I feel that as a society, we haven’t helped the concept of motherhood. For mothers, it has always been a choice — a choice between being a mother or a career woman, since our society doesn’t help the cause of wise parenting. If we had given working women flexible hours, decent benefits and a competitive environment with truncated hours along with a decent welcome post sabbaticals, parenting would have been a very different phenomenon. It would have been a blessing, not a sacrifice.
As far as discipline goes, gadgets have replaced mothers, iPads have replaced fathers and LCDs have replaced aunts, uncles and grandparents. I appreciate the use of gadgets but as a pastime, which would limit them to weekends or 30 minutes every day. Instead, the social deprivation caused by technology is creating a huge communication gap in addition to social disorders like disconnected parenting.
From Ms Zainab Mansoor
Freelance writer living in Dubai
Mothers are too focussed on themselves to pay attention to their children
Earlier, not every woman wanted to be a mother but they had to take up motherhood because of social reasons. It was like a brand — people wanted because they didn’t want to feel inferior. Nowadays, women are more conscious in their decision. Some women are well into their thirties and decide that they want to be mothers.
However, I do think that women aren’t aware of just how much responsibility comes with getting married and having children. You have to with children and instill the right values in them. It requires a lot of patience and energy. If you think you can be a mum and still go out with your friends all the time or not miss any occasion, then there is a problem. Because children need you, especially in the early years. Once they reach the adolescent stage you cannot instill in them everything you want. It has already been instilled by whoever was the caretaker - the nanny or the iPad.
A friend of mine showed me a news report which said that three-year-olds should spend a certain amount of time with iPads for optimal growth and I completely disagree. What a three-year-old needs is to go outside and play. Take them to ride a horse, take them to play. By introducing them to the radiations, you are destroying their development.
As for disconnected parenting, I have actually observed something worse — emotional abuse. You see so many instances of mums posting pictures or videos on social media of their child when he or she is crying. This is the biggest emotional abuse because you aren’t even respecting your child’s privacy or emotions. And what benefit are people getting out of it? Nothing. Instead, they will see you disrespecting your child publically.
When you look at children who have become social media celebrities or reality TV stars, you see such a loss of innoncence. Every phase has its own beauty and the respect and attention you show at this age is what they will reflect later on in life when you grow older.
Another reason behind disconnected parenting is narcissistic motherhood. When I first mentioned it, my friends told me I was being too harsh. But you have so many mums who feel they have to look nice and have a good reputation online but they don’t respect their children. Why else would you publish your child’s photographs?
Recently, at one of the events a minister asked a child in grade 2: What would you like to be in the future. The child’s answer was suprising and sad. She said: “I want to be famous”. Why did children become like this? Because their mothers aren’t stopping to take care of them. Children are a reflection of the environment they live in so yes, they are ambitious, but in a very bad way.
From Ms Aisha Al Janahi
Global leader for young children in the UAE as part of the World Forum Foundation
Gulf News asked: Are women becoming mums as a social responsibility more than a personal choice?