Voices Buffet MAGAZINE Anand Neelakantan Ravi Shankar Satya Mohanty Jaya Chandrasekhar Badri Narayanan Mata Amritanandamayi People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI november 7 2021 SUNDAY PAGES 12 No Kidding Do Parents Know What Their Children Are Up To And What They Can Do Better? P By Shilpi madan and Noor Anand Chawla arents are Boomers. Kids are Zoomers. With the kicky feeding frenzy that social media, its spin-offs, and peer pools are shaking up today, the mutual trust within la familia is tottering on the stilts of young adult secrets. Admit it. There was a certain degree of power Boomers wielded in the kid domain when the nowjuniors were toddlers. Not anymore. A surreal climate change has been happening through remote learning. With millions of online-spending-time tykes turning Kidults, and sharenting and conscious uncoupling becoming the norm, the relationship between parents and children is oscillating sharply . From warfare narrative to an I-spy commando course to clueless parental presence, it’s all out there. The recent developments in Aryan Khan’s life sharply spotlight the vital question which has been hovering and humming like a background score in everyone’s subconscious: Do parents really know what their kids are doing? Apparently not. Despite being a single divorcee parent, Delhi-based entrepreneur Shikha Sharma* gave it all to raising her daughter Ananya—the best of education, life experiences, and value systems. She firmly believed that her intelligent always-top-of-the-class kid was different from the wayward children of her friends. Eighteen-year-old Ananya*, to all outward appearances, was the rare teenager with a single-minded focus on studies and getting a seat in an Ivy League college. No distractions for her—no partying (raves, absolutely not) or demanding boyfriends. One day Sharma returned home a day earlier than scheduled from a work trip and walked into her daughter’s room to a shocking sight: Ananya was on a video call with three other girls—all masked and each one naked to the bone—pleasuring herself. Sharma went ballistic when she realised that she had walked in on a virtual act of communal yet anonymous sex. Later, even with counselling, she found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that her understanding of her own child was so incomplete. Then there is Prithvi Goel*, a young boy who meets girls through dating apps. Since he lived with his parents and grandfather, he would never bring them home. One night, however, when there was no other place to go, he sneaked his date into his room at 1:30 am and he shuffled her out four hours later. When he woke up around lunchtime, feeling rather clever about his escapade, his 87-year-old grandfather smirked, “Did you have fun?” Embarrassed at first, he soon joined his grandfather’s guffaw, realising that the secrecy had been unnecessary . “Parents are humans too. In the dynamic world we live in, we don’t know what we are doing ourselves. Hence, it’s silly to assume that we’d know what our kids are doing all the time. Of course, we like to believe that we do, it gives us a pretext of being a ‘concerned and responsible’ parent, but the truth is far from it,” says Arouba Kabir, Gurugram-based mental health counsellor and founder, Enso Wellness, adding, “The story with young adults is like a thriller with new twists and turns every day —hormonal swings, making new friends and relationships, developing curiosity towards unexplored spheres of life and so on. It is also the time when the sense of ‘being an adult’ sets in their mind, and at this vital point, your relationship with your child is put to the litmus test.” pictures are for representational purpose only Gen-Z refers to the generation born roughly between the years of 1997 and 2012, following the millennials—kids raised on the internet and social media. According to a survey conducted by Sprout Social, a global social media management platform, 66 percent of Gen-Zers use social media purely to kill time, making them the only generation to rank that above connecting with family and friends. THE TRAGEDY OF UNBELONGING Like Ananya, 15-year-old Ankita Dua*, daughter of a bank employee and a schoolteacher, was on track to becoming the head girl of a prominent Mumbai school. She had friends with rich parents but could not afford their lavish lifestyles. When an end-of-year ‘conti-party’ (teen slang for continuation of the school farewell celebrations) was around the corner, her tony friends bought matching designer dresses, the price tags equal to her father’s salary for three months. Desperately wishing to keep up with the ‘It’ crowd but too embarrassed to ask her parents, Ankita saw an opportunity when the class teacher absentmindedly left her solitaire engagement ring on the table in the classroom. Unmindful of CCTV cameras, Ankita stole it with the intention of hawking it at a pawn shop her mother went to, when money was short. The desperate teen was caught and immediately suspended from school. Worse, she was humiliated in front of her friends with whom she wanted to ‘belong’ by committing the crime. Her middle-class parents, too ashamed to deal with the fallout, quietly packed her off to Indore to live with her grandparents. There is no class distinction when it comes to teen behaviour. In what he jokingly terms the ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi Syndrome’, Feisal Alkazi, theatre personality educationist, activist and counsellor for , 40 years with NGO Sanjivini, observes that when young people land in Delhi from satellite towns like Meerut, Alwar, Bareilly , etc, they get enormous culture shock. Arriving from modest backgrounds, with nose-to-the-grindstone upbringings, they secure seats in the city’s top colleges and move into paying guest accommodations. Here, they begin to interact with city girls and boys whose lifestyle is absolutely alien to them; expensive makeup, big cars, wild parties, and general freedom of thought and action. They start believing they must assimilate to gain the acceptance of this trendy crowd. Soon, they are going to or having parties, and use dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge for instant gratification. “ young girl was consulting A me for her depression. One morning, she came in and said, ‘Today is a great morning because 12 guys swiped right’. She was thrilled. Many first-time couples Turn to page 2
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