Is Modern-Day Parenting Taking The Fun Out Of Children’s Play?

As a parent why do I feel more burnout and overwhelmed compared to my parents? Why is modern-day parenting so hard? We ask an expert for the answers.
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Somewhere between my juggling my work, deadlines, chores and filing my child’s assignment due for submission the next day, my mom caught me feeling stressed and a tad overwhelmed. “Why don’t you pause for a moment?” she asked.

I wanted to explain to her that I was more fatigued mentally than physically. “You never told me parenting is THIS tough!”, I joked and asked her if she felt this overwhelmed when raising my brother and me as children 30 years back. “Nope. Those days were simpler”, she said with a smile and walked away. And that got me thinking.

We are definitely in a better situation than we were 30 years ago- be it financially or even from a comfortable lifestyle perspective. We are the “Let’s plan the Maldives for summer” generation compared to the Mysore trips we enjoyed decades ago. But weren’t the technological advancements supposed to make me feel better? And shouldn’t I have it all easier as a parent now?

And somewhere between the pressures of delivering as a modern-day parent, are we not doing a well enough job? A recent Essex University study might be suggesting that.

Study Findings From The Essex University Research

Modern-day parenting pressures and expectations are leading to the death knell for children enjoying spontaneous play, according to a new study from the University of Essex.

  • The study looks at the lack of spontaneous play time among today’s children that is affecting their overall development.
  • The pressures of modern-day parenting require parents to spend more time exhaustively watching, noticing and responding to their children’s desires and behaviours and this is cited as a possible reason for the same.
  • The study highlights how stranger danger, traffic on the roads and other factors contribute to children spending more time indoors, and with screens hindering their playtime.
  • The study cautions modern-day parents that without “spontaneous play,” their children won’t be as developed and well-rounded as they could be.  

“Until around the 1990s, parents were not expected to endlessly entertain and monitor their children in the same way they are today, so children had greater freedom to play independently,”

Dr John Day in Sociology of Health & Illness,

In our pursuit to be super cautious and raise responsible and safe children, are we depriving them, of their basic rights to spontaneous play that we probably had a lot more, growing up?

How Has Parenting Changed?

Why do I, as a working mom today feel more stressed out and overwhelmed than my parents who raised us on one source of income (versus two today)? How are we as a generation doing anything to #SimplifyingParenting?

I came across this wonderful article on how modern-day parenting has become so relentless, by Claire Cain Miller and the below lines really hit me hard that I want to share with you.

“The time parents spend in the presence of their children has not changed much, but parents today spend more of it doing hands-on child care. Time spent on activities like reading to children; doing crafts; taking them to lessons; attending recitals and games; and helping with homework has increased the most. Today, mothers spend nearly five hours a week on that, compared with 1 hour 45 minutes hours in 1975 — and they worry it’s not enough. “

When Mansi Zaveri, Founder of interviewed renowned Psychologist and best-selling author Dr Shefali (for the first time in the Indian subcontinent), I made sure I took in everything she said about being a better parent, leading a more conscious lifestyle when raising children. But this question Mansi asked spoke to me.

Why Is Modern-Day Parenting So Hard?

Watch the below video from 21:20 for the question that Mansi asks Dr Shefali on why modern-day parenting is so hard and how we are inadvertently contributing to complicating it. Dr Shefali draws parallels between how things were even a generation earlier and how we have fallen into this complex web.

Also do listen to this podcast on Kidsstoppress Podcasts on what makes modern-day parenting tough.

“Parenting is no longer simply an aspect of who someone is but a role one is expected to extensively perform, Parents and their children are trapped together in this scenario and so we need policymakers to recognise this and work with parents and children to change this for future generations.”

Dr John Day

There isn’t going to be a single solution, or something that changes dramatically overnight, Parents are stressed out, while striving very hard to give the best of their worlds to their children. And if that is helping the kids in the intended way, we probably, as a fraternity, need to take a step back and assess what we are doing wrong.

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