Are we making our children irresponsible?

One of my sister’s professors strongly propounds that there is a very thin line between finishing a job and completing it. I agree with him. My observations in various professional environments over some time now have led me to believe the same thing. I think the reason we finish any task without completing it is that we do not pay attention to the ultimate outcome and its impact but focus on reporting the work done so that there is instant gratification and our managers are happy.

Sadly, this is what we are teaching our children too. If you observe carefully, children today do not wait for complete instructions to begin any task. They are impatient to begin and finish the given task, rather than understand the purpose of doing it and what they will learn from doing it. This impatience and lack of focus is evident in the way they work on their homework projects. They know what they need to do and when they need to submit it, yet they leave it to the last minute and the parent ends up doing most of the work. The purpose of the project is that children learn the skills of careful planning and execution, in addition to expressing their talent relevant to the work assigned. This purpose is not served at all because children conveniently pass on the responsibility to parents.

Are they better managers? May be not. I would say they have learnt the skill of manipulation.

When I was a school student 25 years ago, there were not many projects at school. Even when there were, the responsibility of work was very clear. It was my job to complete the project and my parents would assist me only if needed (if something needed to be bought or some heavy duty cut/paste was involved). If I brought things to their notice at the last minute, I would surely take an incomplete project back and was appropriately punished for it. It was very clear – my homework is my responsibility, if I don’t do it, I will get punished for it.

Today however, the principle seems to have changed. Parents are over enthusiastic in making sure children submit good work, so they will go to great lengths in helping (rather taking over) the work for them. It seems to be a matter of prestige. Why will my child see the need to take responsibility for her actions if I’m ready to tap into my technical abilities and networking skills at all hours of the day and night to make sure her project is submitted on time?

The root cause for this is the way we live our life. Maximise efficiency by doing multiple things at a given time. Take office calls while driving with family. Juggle a customer problem over a call at the same time engage with a toddler at play. Do not respect time (our own and others’) and live in the illusion that being ‘busy’ over phone is the ultimate saving grace. Spend more time on devices than necessary. Take children on expensive trips to exotic locations. Think and talk about “quality time” but spend too much time and energy on things that don’t really matter to our happiness but are good for the economy.

If we reflect on these patterns of behaviour, we are the cause for any behavioural challenges our children exhibit. When we were children, we were equally aware of the struggles and luxuries that came with our way of life. There were clear boundaries on what is acceptable and what is not. Today’s children have no idea of the struggles of working parents. They have a false sense of entitlement to everything that they have.

Many of my students feel that without a smart phone, there is no life. When I ask them why they need a phone at school, they don’t have an answer. I know teenagers who think that it is their birth right to get a Rs. 25,000/- gadget as a gift or a Rs. 15,000/- dress for a party. They have no idea what it takes to earn that Rs. 25,000/- or Rs. 15,000/-. Where are they learning this? By observing their elders and peers.

In a parent meeting at school, some parents vehemently defended the need for a phone saying that they needed to keep tabs on their children’s safety. Well I think they should fit a radio collar on their children and then track the signal on their own phones, it would serve the same purpose.

Parents’ instinct to control their children’s lives seems to me the biggest culprit in making children irresponsible.

My sincere advice to parents is to take a deep and hard look at how their lifestyle is shaping their child’s personality and make suitable amends when necessary.

What children need is a basic set of values and the skills to build their lives on them; not the futile practice of finishing one thing and moving on to the next.

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Sriraghavan S M

Sriraghavan (Raghu) is an Astronomer by qualification (MSc, Astronomy, Bangalore University) and a teacher by passion. He is a trained counsellor and psychotherapist. His firm belief and conviction to transform the education system in India led him to be an entrepreneur through NumberNagar®. His core work at NumberNagar® revolves around product presentations, academic content, and training. He teaches Maths and Science to young students, rubbing off his passion to them. He trains teachers as well, inspiring them to better themselves. He has taught Physics in educational institutes, during his early career days. He has travelled extensively all over Karnataka, training teachers and popularising Astronomy. He advocates multiple intelligence and is constantly on the lookout for new things to learn. He is ambidextrous and enjoys sketching. He was an avid cricket player in his younger days. He is an enthusiastic biker and uses long solo motorcycle rides as means of reflection and rejuvenation.

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23 Replies to “Are we making our children irresponsible?”

  1. The parents are not allowing the children to take any risk and act independently. Our education system also totally changed. It is favourable to students only. Children in this generation they don’t know about their wants. They are getting every thing before asking itself. And this is a great prestige issue for parents also. Parents are thinking that their child should not face any difficulties like them during their childhood .finally the children nowadays don’t know the value of money as well as education. I think so this is a present scenario in all the places.

  2. This message is really need of the hour. At times parents forget to imbibe the values rather they focus on identity and lucre. Deliberately they need to administer certain values to bring their wards more responsible and face challenges on their own.

    1. Thankyou for sharing your thoughts. Its time that we do our bit in sharing our thoughts with the world.

  3. Well written. It’s a fact to be accepted. When we were kids we were one among our parents offsprings and treated in a same way as other siblings. But nowadays mostly we have single child so obviously lot of pampering while bringing up But as a teacher and a parent I still have hope that this situation can be managed properly when school n parents join hands. Projects must be made in school hours under the supervision of the teacher. if it is so, the kids might develop a sense of responsibility.

  4. True. When parents do the project work or buy it from a shop or even outsource the work just because of peer pressure of both parent and child, we are going on a wrong way! Well written.

  5. Excellent article. I feel many young adults and parents also need to do some reflection on this aspect and start imbibing some principles to make the life really meaningful for themselves and others rather than just enjoying the glory of the moment.

  6. Very well written. The message is important but it is equally important to suggest ways to handle the problem . Children in their teens are so much influenced by their friends at school that the problem becomes difficult for a parent to deal even though many of them realise what is happening. Parents however can make a conscious effort to cut down their time on their mobiles.

    1. Thankyou.
      The followup article is in the thought process, will try to suggest ways in which we can help the student and the parent

  7. As a parent I can totally relate to what you’ve said. Parents Inthe groups are always seen complaining about their children and comparing their time of childhood with the present. But hardly accept the damages are done by the same patents. They never want to change succumbing to peer pressure. RAGHU this article is an eye opener to all the parents of this generation who wish to raise children normally ethically and responsibly.

    1. This message is really need of the hour. At times parents forget to imbibe the values rather they focus on identity and lucre. Deliberately they need to administer certain values to bring their wards more responsible and face the challenges on their own.

      1. Cant agree more, the article was inspired by the events we see around now a days

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