Masala Magazine Thailand

Home » The Winds of Changes: Challenges mothers face today

The Winds of Changes: Challenges mothers face today

by Venesa Daswani

Challenges mothers today face that our mothers didn’t 

By: Kiran Khanijow

I’m stating the obvious, but parenting has never been easy. Every generation has had their share of battles and challenges. Most of us are living comfortable lives here because of the previous generations’ hard work, dedication and discipline. However, with all due respect to our wonderful mothers from the previous generations, if they thought they had a tough time raising sensible and wise human beings, they still might have had it slightly easier than mothers today.

Today, children are living their childhoods in a digitally-saturated environment, which adds a major complexity to raising them. They are extra fussy and seem to have a sense of entitlement. Thus, the definition of parenting has evolved through the years; we can’t raise our children the way we were raised. That world doesn’t exist anymore. Our rapid-pace lifestyles present us with unique pressures that our mothers never faced, spanning the combined demands of technology, changing family dynamics, education, and a round-the-clock information cycle.

For instance, in the past, enjoying television meant watching TV shows at scheduled times, when the whole family would come together and sit in front of the TV. Nowadays, children have unlimited access to all kinds of content on the web. Modern families are more secluded, with each family member watching a different show on their devices at the same time. We struggle to teach good values and keep our children healthy, both mentally and physically.

What other challenges have modern mums faced, and how have they handled these delicate situations? Masala spoke to a few in the community to hear their take.

SONIYA GULATI, 44: Freelance Writer/Editor

How do you deal with the major challenges that technology presents when raising kids?

As a joke, I tell people that I know how it’ll end for me – one of my kids will unplug my life support to charge their phone! [Laughs] That’s the meme my kids sent to me on the family chat! As a family of screen addicts, I find my concern has shifted from screen time, to content. We are exposed to a lot very early on, and the digital landscape is the wild, wild West – relatively new, unchartered, and ever-changing territory. So as much as we can, we talk to our children about algorithms and the workings of social media. There’s constant dialogue about the latest games, TikTok trends, and what they are watching and consuming, as well as where they think the future of AI is heading. Intellectualising these topics help us navigate and self-regulate better. I hope to develop self- discipline not just for my kids but for all of us; to recognise the moment when our devices get addictive and to make the choice to put them down.

What about other ways that motherhood has changed? How do you handle these new trials?

If I called my mum, “bruh” and tried to psycho-analyse her using Instagram pop reels, I think she would have thrown a chappal in my direction, followed by a never-ending lecture on respect. [Laughs] Currently, my kids are calling out my ‘societal conditionings,’

‘gaslighting tendencies,’ and ‘toxic positivity.’ Technology has made them too aware and sensitive, but also much more open and authentic with us. There is plenty of space for them to grow, explore and discuss deeper topics. It can’t be a one-way lecture or a list of dos and don’ts that our parents used to hand to us.

What is at the root of all these changes?

If you really dig deep, you’ll question whether that much has actually changed. For example, twenty years ago, “sabse bara rog, kya kahenge log” (the biggest illness is thinking about what other people will say) was the issue. The community lived in constant fear of judgement and coveted their reputation. Today, we say we don’t care what people think, yet we’re still consumed by the number of likes we get. Humans seek validation, regardless of whether they’re holding a device or not!

RASHNI KHANIJOU, 45: Freelance Language and Project Specialist

Technology has changed what it means to be a parent – how have you dealt with that?

I attended a boarding school and only saw my parents for three months per year. Everything was taken care of at school, and my mother’s challenge was to ensure I settled well while she focused on her work. Today’s scenario is different. While technology does offer conveniences, it also brings challenges such as managing children’s screen time and exposure to inappropriate content. I communicate with each of my children, emphasising the importance of responsible technology use. Setting boundaries is easier when they are young, but as they grow older, open communication works better than strictrules. Encouraging physical activities outdoors also helps reduce screen time. Teaching children about the benefits and risks of the digital world, privacy, and how to evaluate online content is crucial. I try to implement simple rules like ‘no phones at the dinner table’ and ‘phones off at bedtime.’ Schools have also been helpful as they educate students on IT, including threats and opportunities.

How do you handle the other challenges inherent in motherhood today?

It truly is overwhelming! We juggle demanding careers and family responsibilities, leading to stress and burnout. The cost of living has increased, requiring dual incomes for many families. The pressure to excel in both your personal and professional life can be overwhelming. Moreover, mothers today are more involved in their children’s education, attending school meetings, helping with homework, and managing extracurricular activities. As I freelance and take up some projects, I try to be as involved with my kids as much as possible, but I also have to explain to them that I won’t be able to attend every school activity. Over time, they have begun to understand and support my decision.

In your opinion, what is it like to raise kids in this day and age?

Children today think and express themselves differently from us. Unlike our generation, where we accepted everything without question, today they challenge us in ways that are both difficult, yet enjoyable. From very young, they know a lot more, and every issue requires reasoning. Discussing these issues with them allows us to learn from each other. This dynamic is both challenging and fun, as it provides opportunities for mutual growth and understanding.

PRAVEEN ANANSONGVIT KALRA, 45:Director of Falcon Mind, Bookkeeper, and Math Tutor

Technology can present a major challenge as a parent. How do you deal with it?

Today, everything is instantly and easily accessible. As parents, it’s fun and comfortable to rely so much on technology, but when we watch our children ‘enjoy’ the same comfort from a very young age, it creates a dilemma. How we were raised back then, worked. We were often aware of our privileges when our parents gave us more freedom, and appreciated what we received. However, today, children seem clueless of these differences, which is why comparisons no longer make sense. Comparing past generations to the Gen Zs and Gen-Alphas needs to stop, as the times have flipped 180 degrees, and there is no turning back. Understanding and accepting these facts and implementing changes ASAP is the only way forward for our sanity, as well as to harmoniously keep up with our children.

What are the other challenges that you face as a 21st Century mother, and how do you handle them?

To keep up with my five-year-old daughter, I have accepted that practicing old methods no longer works. I am responsible for preparing her for her future, but that begs the question: while being open minded and flexible, how much is too much or too little, and where do I draw the line?

Many parents have debates over the use of technology, and yet, we rely on it so much ourselves. We shouldn’t compare our past to their present – kids won’t hesitate to point out that if we can use technology now, why can’t they? From the moment they are born, they watch us hold a phone to photograph each of their movements. Therefore, technology has always been a part of them.

Moreover, children today are more aware of the things their friends have, and naturally want the same. With my daughter, I will first see if it’s necessary and try to not splurge on a lot of things. I try not to give in to all her wants, but when I feel she’s earned it, then I have no issues in giving her a treat to make her happy. In fact, I’ve sometimes found myself in hilarious situations where deals and bargains are being made by my mini-me! I’ve come to realise that diplomacy and patience are always key.

SARIKA KHERA, 37: Homemaker

What are some parenthood-related struggles that you’ve had with technology?

There is a struggle to maintain quality family time in this digital age. For instance, during family dinners, my kids are often more engrossed in their tablets or smartphones than in conversations with us. These constant distractions make it difficult to foster meaningful family connections and teach essential social skills. However, I do ensure that I spend meaningful and attentive quality time with my children.

As a modern mum, how do you handle the new challenges of today?

Striving for a harmonious work-life balance is a challenge! When I was working a part time job and my husband was out of town, it became difficult for me to manage both work and family commitments. I missed my daughter’s dance show and felt terrible guilt when she said that she looked around for me. This experience highlights the constant tug of war between professional duties and family obligations. Currently, I try to prioritise my kids and plan accordingly, using a family calendar to track important events, deadlines and schedules. This has helped me to plan ahead and be present for significant family moments. I’ve also built a reliable network of friends, family and childcare to step in if I really can’t be there for them.

What is your advice for helping our children deal with today’s challenges?

Our children are confronting different societal expectations and mental health issues. Today, they are pressured to excel in every aspect, aiming for admission to prestigious colleges like Ivy League schools. Unlike in the 90s, where parents focused more on teaching survival skills, this emphasis on achievement can lead to depression and rebellion, causing them to lose touch with the joys of life. I’ve witnessed how this pressure affects my own child, who struggles to balance academic success with personal wellbeing, often feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Therefore, I would say that addressing these societal expectations and prioritising our children’s mental health and happiness is key.

Related Articles