By Thomas Kulanjiyil
Parenting is not something that we can take for granted. None of us is born with natural knowledge and abilities for parenting. It is something that we learn and continue to learn. It is a calling in life, and an awesome responsibility. Those of us, who are parents, know that it takes sacrificial love, dedication, and serious effort to bring up physically healthy, psychologically sound, and socially well adjusted children. Responsi-ble parenting demands consistent discipline and moral instruction. Unfortunately, the popular culture has very little to offer to this kind of parenting.
Have you noticed; nowadays we talk more about care-taking and less about parenting? Parenting today occupies less of our time, commitment, and sacrifice. In our passionate pursuit for success and personal fulfillment, we have relegated children to the category of “the miscellaneous.” They have become less of our priority today. The mistaken assumption is that what a child needs is only a good care-taker, it does not matter, who that person be; it could be a biological parent, a nanny, or a relative. Is there any surprise, then, that quite a number of children in our society are growing up without really bonding with their biological parents? They continue to struggle with issues of loneliness and alienation, constantly looking for love and affirmation. These serious deficiencies in early childhood negatively impact children in their social, emotional, and personality development. For example, according to Erik Erikson, the famous developmental psychologist, when warmth and attention are provided to children, they develop trust. When they are denied they develop mistrust towards others. Lamentably, our understanding of child rearing is flawed.
The popular culture also wants us to believe that a father figure is not necessary for child development. How-ever, the available research tells us on the contrary. Certainly, a single mother, resourceful and determined, might be able to compensate for some of the deficits in parenting due to the want of a father. However, this is only an exception, and not a rule. The absence of a father at home is a major crisis in the contemporary American society. Some statistics indicate that over 24 million father-absent homes are found in the US today. The bare truth is that in comparison to children from two parent households, children raised by a single-parent are more susceptible to such risks as educational deficits, high School drop outs, substance abuse, adolescent delinquency, violent crimes, and other social and personal impairments. We need and should not send our children this path. Parents, resolve in your mind to become the best parent you can be, by investing your time, effort, and re-sources in the lives of your children. That will be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.