Friday, February 19, 2010

Co-operative parenting - Parenting in animal world - Part I

Long time back, I saw this National Geographic documentary titled "March of the Penguins". (The official NatGeo site for the film, Watch the short video). It is truly very touching and one of the most memorable documentary that I have seen. It celebrates true love and sacrifice in bringing a new life into this world.

This is the story of the Emperor Penguins who travel all the way to the remotest part of the Antarctic. For some twenty days and nights they walk through harsh conditions until they find a suitable place. The female lays one single egg and shifts it onto the feet of the male which will now take over the job of protecting the egg until it hatches. By now the female penguins have not eaten for two months and hence they leave for the seas to feed and also to get food for their baby chicks! Amazing isn't it?

Now the male penguins huddle together and incubate the egg and finally by the time the chick is hatched the father penguin has not eaten for nearly four months!! It has lost half of its body weight. This is what I call co-operative parenting. I don't think we can see this phenomenon even in higher mammals, in any case not in human beings.

By now the female penguins return and the males transfer their parenting duty to the female and then go to the seas which is about 70 miles to feed in that cold weather. Finally the saga ends with the male penguins returning back to unite with their families. This continues throughout the lifetime of the Penguins.

I recommend that it is a must watch for those who have not seen it yet and for those of you who have then surely there is a lot to be learnt with regard to parenting. Specially all the men out there can learn a thing or two from these wonderful male penguins. Hope there will be more men getting into co-operative parenting.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gran's care can make kids obese

Well this was the article which I came across in the papers - "Gran's care can make kids obese" The University College London undertook this study of 12,000 three year olds and found that the risk of of obesity was 34 percent higher if grandparents took care of them full time.

So many a time when a mother works and if there are grandparents at home then one definitely would like to leave their children under the care of loving grandparents rather than in a creche or a day care centre. Reason being one is not sure of the hygiene that is followed as well as the attention and care that the child gets.

On the other hand looking after a bundle of energy and being constantly on their toes is an impossible task for the grandparents. As it is, these grandparents have gone through all the hardships and troubles of parenting. Imagine doing it all over again!

Hence when the children are under the care of grandparents, most likely they will be over indulged. Children are pampered by giving them their favourite fried food, sweets, chocolates, and so on. Also if the grandparents are not very active, then they would prefer making the kids sit in front of T.V. Hence there is no active play. All these put together is a surefire recipe for obesity in these little ones.

I would not be surprised if they find that discipline will also be another aspect that gets affected when children are under the care of their grandparents. A common grouse that many parents have against their parents is that when they were children their parents never indulged them and were very strict . But the same parents now indulge and pamper their grandchildren to the extent of catering to every whims and fancies and sometimes even getting scolded by these tiny power wielders. Grandchildren after all are very precious for their grandparents, aren't they?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Where's my playground?

Play and childhood go hand in hand. A flashback of our childhood days are always associated with healthy evening doses of playtime and panting back home breathlessly, face resplendant with sweat and smiles. Play is every child's birthright I guess.

Now the situation seems to be different. Schools do not have playgrounds and parks are meant only for walkers and plants. One can hardly see any open, barren playground that is meant for children.

No place to play is what my children come back and tell us. Though we chose an apartment which is huge and has lots of space, it still is not big enough for our children to play football. At different ages children play different games. Right now they are heavily into football and they cannot play as there are complaints of plants getting spoiled, lights being broken and so on and so forth. This is the present day scenario in every place.

Where do children play then? Getting them enrolled into a sports academy seems to be the solution. But the time that one has to spend on the road to drop and pick them up is a major problem what with the kind of traffic maze one has to decipher. Just one hour of free play is what children ask for. The so called bigger apartments spend lots of money on garden and landscaping but hardly ever have I seen the builders assigning space for teenage sports. How I wish they just reserve a small corner, barricade it with mesh and allow it to be used as a ground for football or cricket. That way there is no damage to property and children can have their corner to play.

It was quite a contradiction the other day when I heard my son reading an essay written in school about the importance of play and its role in the healthy development of children. I was not able to answer him when he asked me "But mama, where is the place to play?"

No wonder children are shifting to indoor games and spending lots of time in front of their T.V or computer. Will the days of delightful shouts and laughter of children playing be a thing of the past soon? I remember the story of the giant who never allowed any children into his huge, beautiful garden and the garden withered away.Though the story there had a happy ending reality will be too harsh for our children.