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Role of a mother

“Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement, and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.” Bob Keeshan

“When there is a loving and caring mother at home, there will be order in the family, then in society and in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”

            “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the mother, the father,  and the teacher.”

                                                                     Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

The tragic incidents of murders of Arushi Talwar, a teenager daughter of Doctor Talwar and Sheena Bora, D/o of Indrani Mukherji are thought-provoking. One wonders how can a mother/father murder their own daughter? Can a mother be so in-sensitive because of her busy schedule that she has to depend blindly on domestic help? Or as heartless as Indrani Mukherji is? Is it not the responsibility of a mother to save her child from all kinds of problems?

Motherhood is the most wonderful experience in the life of a woman. Mothers are the pivot around whom the whole family revolves. They hold family together, make tough decisions, takes care of each member with love and makes everybody comfortable. Mother is everything for her children. She generates confidence in her children and gives them strength when they go through all the ups and downs, successes and failures later in life.

Divine pleasure in watching their child grow

It is a divine pleasure constantly for a mother to watch her child grow at each and every step. It is full of wonders. Innocent questions asked by a toddler gives many insights into the little and pure world of her child. Many a times she finds it difficult to answer the innocent questions of her child. Her comments/answers inspire and guide the children. Sometimes the insights of children astound mothers. Taking care of a child makes her matured and gives her a sense of fulfillment. More time she spends together is better both the child and mother feel.

Sacrifices her today

Every mother, on her own,  willingly and happily sacrifices her today’s comforts, does everything in her power, she can do for her children – sacrifices her day and night sleep while taking care of a baby, devotes her youth to take proper care of a new life – she has brought into this world – nourishes the baby, brings it up, makes the child comfortable and prepares her children to face the realities of life, when they grow up. Every mother does her best to make a healthier, happier and prosperous future for her children. It is because of her invaluable contribution to the family, society and nation for giving confident and responsible persons/citizens that it is said in Indian scriptures that one can never repay two persons – mother and father.

Changing scenario

Twentieth first century has brought many changes in the mother’s role throughout the world. Modern women are keen to be economically independent, having their own identity. Legally they have got freedom, equality, and access to education and employment. They have broken all glass ceilings in every sphere – be it  economic, political and social – and become bolder and more empowered now through their own efforts and government’s intervention.

Women have entered into the domains which were earlier completely under male domination and worked with them. They have also become career -minded like men. They became more confident. Gradual and greater awareness and realization of their direct contribution to improve the living conditions of the family make them bold. Now they question the stereo type assumptions of motherhood and responsibilities that go along with that. The older typical image, slowly and slowly, is getting diffused and diversified. Modern women are willing to make some compromises at familial front and seek greater support of their male spouses in the upbringing of children.

Modern career women considers themselves as friendly mothers, having a sense of self-realization in  taking good care of their kids, giving them their quality of time and try their best to inculcate in children good values. In her effort to do justice to both the role of an excellent mother and a career woman, she needs more energy.

Over-burdened mothers – In modern two income-group nuclear families, a mother of a small kid is over-burdened. Earlier in joint family system, responsibility of taking care of babies and kids was shared with other members of the family, therefore it was not so difficult, but without proper and reliable support systems, taking proper care of babies and toddlers has become very difficult even for young mothers.

The thinking is changing again slowly, taking a u-turn everywhere.  A young mother has to fulfil familial responsibilities including taking care of small children. Concerns of a young mother, having the responsibilities of raising up her babies into toddlers and then teenagers, can range from sheer logistic problems associated with providing proper child-care to emotional challenges because of not being physically there, when her children need her the most. Her husband is expected to participate actively in rearing up the children and help the mother in household chores.

Young mothers face many difficulties/challenges. Strains of modern living, nuclear family system, stressful and working long hours in offices and then late marriage put so much strain on woman body that that factors like stress, weight change, age, medicines disrupt the balance of her hormones. It is becoming difficult for a working woman to give birth to a normal child.

The major responsibility of taking care of home, having  growing up children usually falls on the shoulders of wife/mother alone, which in itself is a full-time job. Working women hardly get enough time to devote on proper upbringing of young children. They need  some reliable support systems to help them out in fulfilling her familial responsibilities. Modern support-systems – help and supervision of others including grandparents, domestic servants, crutches, day-care centres, maids, driver, child minders or hobby class teachers etc. is always available to young working parents, but does it works out as desired?

Quite often dependence on old parents for taking care of growing up children and household chores, becomes problematic because of their old age and failing energies. Total dependence on domestic help because of lack of time because of her responsibilities at work-place and social life, does not workout for desired upbringing of the kids.

Modern Support systems

Support systems available to her are either old parents or baby-sitters/domestic help/crèches/day-care/child minder etc. In all the situations, there are many problems.

  • Old people, due their old age and failing energies, find it difficult to look after kids properly. They have health problems too.
  • Domestic helpers are expensive, unreliable, untrained and temporary.
  • Formal institutions running more on commercial basis like creches/day care centres are overcrowded and are unable to pay required attention to children.

The plight of a young career woman in America is described beautifully by Linda Burton (What’s a smart women like you doing at home? Published in Readers Digest August, 1988). She says that she never intended to stay back at home. “Before the birth of my first child, I had a full time job as a fund-raiser at a public interest law firm”. “After my child was born, I found myself ….getting angry about all the things, he was keeping me from doing. I missed my job and my friends, I felt poverty-stricken and I looked awful. So, like many other women, I decided to go back to work” thinking that she would give her child “Quality” time in the evenings and on week-ends. She tried nannies, housekeepers, home-based day-care centres, crèches etc. but was not satisfied and found them unreliable and unqualified for the job. Apart from it “I found that I had little “Quality” time for my child in the evening; I was tired. I also discovered that I missed my son during day”. “No matter how many licenses we issue, how many guidelines we establish or how much money we pay, it is impossible to have quality controls over the capacity of one human being to love and care for another. I wanted someone who was loving and tender, with a sense of humour and an alert, lovely manner – somebody who would encourage my children’s creativity”…. “Slowly, painfully, I came to a stunning realization; the person I was looking for was right under my nose. I had desperately been trying to hire me. And that is what a smart woman like me is doing at home”.

Difficulties in balancing her responsibilities at home and at workplace. It is quite difficult to balance the responsibilities at home and at workplace. Neither they can do full justice to their familial responsibilities, because they are not there, when their children need the tender care/advice of their mothers, nor they can to concentrate on their work without tension. Young children get deprived of tender and loving care. Nation and society is at loss from having confident and healthy citizens – mentally, physically and economically.

Parents usually get disconnected with children’s friends, habits and mannerism. Children in their turn also do not want any interference in their daily routine and wait for their parents to go.

Today to keep the children busy, working mothers send their little children to play-school, school and coaching classes for other activities/hobbies. Where is the quality time with a working mother? Everyday from morning till evening she gets very little time to spend with her kids. Also many a times,  even when mother and kids are together, mother’s mind is pre-occupied in resolving problems of her workplace.

Giving quality time to their children?

Some full-time working women think that they will give quality time to their children. The comforting concept of giving children their quality time is always there in working women’s minds. Many women develop guilt feeling. They know deep in their heart that giving prime time to children is not enough. This is an excuse to hide their guilt feeling. To lessen their sense of guilt consciousness, they excuse themselves thinking of giving children quality time.

Usually lack of time to think and act for sustainable development of child tends working women  to worry more about children’s physical needs and gloss over their psychological ones.  Many times, mothers buy materialistic goods for their children as a bribe to teach their children mannerism and thus clear their conscience of not being there for them.  Financial position/status is immaterial, when there is a question of affectionate care, protection of the child in developing the personality, intelligence and character or in imbibing the right moral and ethical values. Absence of a mother hampers the child’s personality. A maid’s care is not sufficient to fulfill the growing requirements of a child and cannot compensate for love of a mother. A trial court observed while adjudicating upon child custody case. (TOI, 11.11.11, p. 8)When due to any reason, a mother is unable to give enough time for the proper care of her children, she develops a complex/deficiency or feels insecure. Many women develop a sense of guilt. So, saying quality of time they spend with the kids only lessens their sense of guilt.

Child-care is a full-time job

 Responsibility of disciplining, inculcating good values and mannerism? – Today it is a big question – who owns the responsibility of disciplining, inculcating good values and mannerism in growing up boys and girls – parents, educational institutions or the government? Both the parents are busy in earning money these days. They do not have enough time for it. One of the side-effects of such an attitude is that institution of ‘family’ is weakening. Parents depend on schools for disciplining the child. And both parents and schools depend on Government/Police. Government/police says it is the duty of schools and parents and schools say it is for the parents to inculcate good values in children.  During adverse circumstances, they blame each other and circumstances.

Lack of dependable support system for child-care is one of the reasons that women now prefers to opt out of a regular career, till her baby needs her. A transition is taking place to a stay-home mothers instead of a working one.  According to the latest American census, stay at home motherhood is an increasingly popular choice for women, primarily to care for their children. (Times of India, New Delhi, January 9, 2005, p. 13)

Even in India, as NSSO data shows, female labour force participation (FLEB), was above 40% in early to mid-1990’s, fell to 29.4% in 2004-05,  23% in 2009-10 and 22.5% in 2011-12. ( Quoted from TOI, P.2, 27.9.2014)

Child-care is a full time job. To a great extent, a mother along with the help of her spouse is responsible for all round development of her child. In performing this task, it is her tender love, which plays decisive role. Her role in the development of her child distinguishes her from other institutions.

A woman’s role as a mother is crucial. Nobody else can replace it. Nobody else could cultivate positive qualities in children, which once imbibed, inevitably become part of one’s nature. These in turn, provide guidelines for their future wholesome behavior patterns as responsible citizens and social human beings.

No substitute for mother’s tender care

There can be no substitute for mother’s tender care, be it grand-parents, maids or formal institutions. Society needs its children to be nurtured and looked after well. As traditional family support systems disintegrate, the need for new kinds of support system for proper care of children is an urgent imperative.

In Japan, the community’s perception of a woman’s success depends in large part on how well her children do in school. So accepted is this role, that it has spawned its own label – “Koyukuk Mama (Education mother)”. No one doubts that behind almost every high scoring Japanese student stands a mother completely involved in her child’s education and proper development of his/her personality. She spends hours together in helping kids everyday with homework, hires tutors and may even work part-time to pay for “Juku”. She shuttles youngsters from physical education class to music class to calligraphy and piano.

Access to good education, a mother can empower herself and her children. Education makes women  financially independent having broad mind with principles and ample freedom. Indian society and the nation must duly acknowledge the contribution of women as mother. Japanese society lays a good proportion of the credit for its economic miracle at the feet of Japan’s women (Smithsonian – March 1987 by Carol Simons). Japanese Women gives importance to motherhood and consider education of her child as number one responsibility. She knows it is a demanding job, but consider it prestigious. Intense competition in post-war Japan has made her job harder than ever. Much of a mother’s sense of personal accomplishment is tied to the educational achievements of her children. States “Japanese Education Today” – a 1987 Report from the US Department of education.

Suggestions

In order to ingrain right values in children, a lot of time and patience is required during their growing years. Actually parenting is a 24-hour job. A parent has to be there every-time the kid needs him/her. The concept of spending ‘quality’ or ‘quantity’ time with children does not work well.

Empower family – Happy, harmonious and peaceful environment in family is very important to save humanity. Warm and sensible parenting without bias/gender-discrimination can curb violence to a great extent.

It is easy to deal with the toddlers/small children while growing up. Teen-ager boys and girls, when they develop their independent thinking, need to be guided diplomatically, otherwise they may turn defiant, aggressive or even violent. Every mother should raise her children in a way that gender equity and compassion as core values are inculcated in them in their growing years. They should be guided to overcome injustices and fight against domestic violence, discriminatory social customs and practices.

Enlightened and educated women, should focus their attention  on efforts/actions, they can do themselves without depending on any outside agency or on abstract issues like criticizing patriarchal-system, male-dominated society, reservation for women, discrimination/violence against women, equality etc. The onus falls on women to create a better future and better world to live in for their children.

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October 4, 2015 - Posted by | Women's issues |

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