This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rashmi Raj. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Are Parents Of My Generation Way Too Protective?

Imagine this: you arrive at the daycare to pick your little one up and you see them wrestling on the ground with another child. What do you do?

Or this: your child comes home in a foul mood because their teacher gave him a C grade on his essay – the very same one you had appreciated just yesterday and assured them that it was ‘awesome’ – and they now want you to negotiate with their teacher for a better grade. What do you do?

Or even this: tour little one has just left on their school bus. You wave them goodbye and come back to see that they have left their lunch bag home. Of course, their school serves decent food and they carry lunch money with them; but you feel you’d rather see to it that their lunch gets delivered to them at school. What do you do?

And finally this: you are at the playground and your little one falls from the monkey bar and scrapes their knee. What do you do?

Faced with similar situations, most parents I know would be only too happy to rush in and help their little darlings. These parents also help their children with homework, project work, school assignments, even stay up with them late in the night if the need arises and ensure that their children know that they are there for them – any time of the day or night – if they need parental support.

These are the parents of my generation – the involved parents – who don’t blink an eye before they decide to step in and rescue their children. They are happy to shower lavish praise on their children and praise them for even their smallest of achievements.

Picture used for representative purposes only. (Image Credit: Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images)

These parents know their children’s schedule, are connected with their children via mobile phones and social media and also keep themselves updated with what games their children play and who their friends are. This does not necessarily make them helicopter parents, mind you, because after all, they are just looking out for their children, aren’t they?

No, they are not helicopter parents, but they are the new-age buddy parents! They know that the world being what it is today, it is really important to stay connected with their children. They prefer to be in the know. And that is why they are there for their children, at all times, no matter what. That is cool.

But what they forget is that one of the most important things in life is balance. For all the love you shower on your little ones, it is important to make them accountable and responsible for their actions too. For all the help you extend to them in their hour of need, you need to teach them to help themselves at times too. For every battle you are only too happy to fight for them, it is important to let them resolve some of their own conflicts too. What most engaged parents forget and do not teach their young ones, is that all actions have consequences. And not all consequences are favourable.

By merely helping our children and not expecting anything from them in return, we are teaching them to lean on to someone for help at their convenience, not necessarily being ready to give something in return. By negotiating with our children’s teachers for better grades for them, we are teaching them that no matter what they do, we will always rescue them. By delivering that lunch box to them that they forgot, we are telling them that they do not have to be responsible for remembering their own things. By helping our children out even before they ask for help, we are overprotecting them. We are being mere short-term parents!

These children, who have always had their parents, literally looking out for them at every turn, are raised as insulated kids who are ill-prepared for the world. According to an article I read recently, “Pain is a necessary teacher. Psychologists in Europe have discovered that if a child doesn’t play outside and is never allowed to experience a skinned knee or a broken bone, they frequently have phobias as adults. Interviews with young adults who never played on jungle gyms reveal they’re fearful of normal risks and commitment. The truth is, kids need to fall a few times to learn it is normal; teens likely need to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend to appreciate the emotional maturity that lasting relationships require.

And this is so true – not only for physical pain but for pain of all kinds. However, most of us parents today are only too happy to rescue our children and praise all their efforts, in the process, inadvertently raising young adults who are ill-equipped to deal with the real world which is nothing like the one we try to give them.

The article I mentioned above, also goes on to mention that because most parents rarely allow children to take risks, we have a situation today where “psychologists are discovering a syndrome as they counsel teens: high arrogance, low self-esteem. They’re cocky, but deep down, their confidence is hollow, because it’s built off of watching YouTube videos, and perhaps not achieving something meaningful.

We are obviously not going to be around forever to help them, are we?

As parents, of course, we mean well. We don’t really mean to raise maladjusted kids. But without meaning to, that is exactly what we do. We don’t let them take risks, we rescue them the first chance we get and we handhold them through everything, for as long as we can. But we have no answer for these questions – What happens when these children grow up? We are obviously not going to be around forever to help them, are we? So what happens then?

Well, that is exactly why being a short-term parent doesn’t help. The role of a parent is to raise children to live a happy and contented life independently – independent even of the parents. The goal of parenting is not to raise help-seekers, but to raise confident individuals who can take on the role of help-providers when the time comes.

And how do we do that?

1. By helping our children take calculated risks.

2. By preparing them to both win and lose.

3. By not showering them with material rewards for doing the things that are clearly expected of them.

4. By choosing for them positive risk-taking adventures such as a particular sport or letting them take up a challenging job, etc.

5. By affirming smart risk-taking behaviour and hard work.

6. And finally, by providing them intrinsic motivation and unconditional love

Dear fellow parents, as we have read in countless WhatsApp messages and forwards – Our children are not our masterpiece. They are not our medals.

So, let them fail, let them fall. Let them work for what they really want.

These views are solely of the author and first appeared here.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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