I read an article in Times of India that left me heartbroken. It was about children feeling ‘orphaned’ despite having parents as their parents barely paid them attention. The article stated parents’ busy schedules as a primary reason for this. But childhood neglect is an issue that has deeper roots. While the article highlighted some extreme cases it would not be a long shot to assume childhood neglect is becoming more common. Parent-child attachment begins in the womb. An unborn baby registers her parents’ voices. After birth the bond continues to grow as parents hold, nurse and care for their newborn. As the baby grows he begins to form a deeper bond with his parents through social interactions. A young child learns to depend on her parents when they are repeatedly there for her when she needs them. A teenager trusts his parents who devote their time to listen to his concerns. When parents are unable to present these opportunities for developing a bond, problems are bound to surface.
Poor parenting practices can be attributed to a multitude of causes including financial stress, relationship issues, mental health concerns, to name a few. Adults need to resolve their own issues first if they are to be effective parents. While most often people assume childhood neglect is a lack of physical care, an absence of emotional support is a form of neglect as well!
Children are entitled to their caregiver’s attention and care. Many psychological problems in adulthood can be traced back to childhood incidents. This only underlines the importance of having a stable childhood. Of course, it is impossible to be a perfect parent or ensure your child never faces an obstacle. However, as parents and caregivers it is imperative we understand the importance of childhood experiences and do our best to create a safe and enriching environment for our kids.
Leaving children emotionally unattended and neglected is a grievous matter. A support system of nannies, housekeepers, grandparents and relatives definitely helps a working couple. But access to paid services is available to only those who can afford it and leaving children in the care of hired caretakers holds its own risks. Nuclear families living away from extended family do not have the option of relatives helping out.
Despite the challenges of parenting that a modern lifestyle presents us with, parenting need not be about miscalculated actions. Couples planning to have children must understand the responsibilities that come with being parents. They must also be aware of the adjustments that come with an addition to their family. It’s recommended that couples discuss how they plan to share their duties as parents and whom they will rope in for help. While life may not always turn out as expected, planning can help ease bumps along the way. Parents struggling with child rearing must seek help to get back on track. Parenting is a challenging responsibility and no one should have to deal with it alone. It does indeed take a village to raise a child!
Children infuse bundles happiness into the lives of those around them. It would be a special honour to provide them the time and care they deserve.